The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church received an offering from representatives of its nearly 500 churches gathered for Annual Conference.
However, the offering was a little unusual in that it was a “roving offering.” Two “mosquitoes” – played by Jamil Harper and Jamar Campbell, members of Grace Community United Methodist Church in Chester, PA – wove their way through the crowd, gathered at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA. Their objective: to “bug” people into donating $10 for Nothing But Nets. They collected funds over two days, June 16-17, delighting the nearly 1,000 conference attendees, and raising awareness of the need to send insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria in Africa.
Then, on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 17, Bishop Peggy Johnson welcomed Eastern Pennsylvania “celebrities,” Katherine and Lynda Commale, members of Hopewell UMC in Downingtown, PA, and presented the sum of the offering, a check in the amount of $4,614, to 8-year old Katherine Commale for her NET-Raiser team. It was an extraordinary moment for the Commales, as the audience rose to their feet in a standing ovation, celebrating the moment when Lynda and Katherine exceeded their initial goal of raising $100,000 for Nothing but Nets.
“It just overwhelms my heart,” said Lynda. She asked her daughter, “Whose goal was it to send 10,000 nets?” Katherine answered, “My mom’s!” Lynda then asked, “What is your goal, Katherine?” Her simple but profound reply was, “That everyone in Africa who needs a bed net gets a bed net!”
Katherine was 5 ½ years old when she first learned that a child dies every 30 seconds from malaria. She and her mother, Lynda, immediately set about raising money to send bed nets to Africa. Katherine may retire from this calling in 2015. Why retire at age 14? “At the rate we’re sending bed nets, by 2015 malaria will be eradicated,” said Lynda.
Lynda asked the audience to keep her family in their prayers, saying, “If our family is going to continue to 2015, we need your prayers.” She also asked listeners to give Katherine some enthusiasm, as Katherine’s question is, “If I stop, who will send them?” Lynda asked everyone, “Is she alone in this?” As one, the audience shouted, “No!”