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Imagining No Malaria Through VBS, Dunk Tanks and Advent


Virginia Conference
January 14th, 2015

In the Virginia Conference, our Bishop has challenged us to saved 100,000+ lives from the devastating disease of malaria through Imagine No Malaria. We have adopted the slogan “Every Life Save A Life” because we know that at a grass roots level, every person can give $10 to save the life of another. It is that simple! Take a look at the journey of one church in the York River District of the Virginia Conference and how they helped save over 2,000 lives!

St. Luke’s UMC began their journey with Imagine No Malaria in the summer of 2014 through their VBS program. Led by Josie Turner, Director of Children’s Ministries, they kicked off their Imagine No Malaria mission by challenging the boys and girls to a little friendly competition. Each day for the duration of the week long VBS, kids were tasked to bring in their change to save a life! At the end of the day all the change was counted and a winner emerged. A summary of the day’s lesson and a reminder to bring in their change (also a shout out to who was in the lead) was sent home at the end of each day. The kids raised $1,000.16 for Imagine No Malaria, saving 100 lives. Kids saving kids…it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Later in the summer, the church held its annual Community Outreach Carnival once again highlighting Imagine No Malaria. Their fearless leaders, Reverends Doug and Clara Gestwick, Josie Turner, Director of Children’s Ministries and Ike Akagha, Youth Director, took their turn in a dunk tank to raise money for this wonderful cause.  Each of them took a 30 minute shift in the dunk tank where each “thrower” received 3 balls for their $5 donation.  Rev. Doug Gestwick received the largest amount of dunk donations and had to sit in the dunk tank for an additional 30 minutes. They raised $1,073.48! Rev. Clara Gestwick shared that not only were her congregation members generous, they were kind. Knowing how much she disliked being cold, they filled her dunk tank with warm water.

To end the year, St. Luke’s UMC challenged every member and friend of St. Luke’s to bring to church on Christmas Eve an amount equal to what they spent on their family for Christmas. The offering collected was close to $45,000! The offering was divided in two.  One half was set aside for their “Miracle Fund” and will be used to help families or individuals in need of a miracle and the other half will go to the Imagine No Malaria where every $10 helps to save a life by providing bed nets, treatment, education and communication for malaria.  St. Luke’s membership will exceed 2,000 in 2015. Their Christmas Miracle offering saved the lives of over 2,000 people. In Pastor Doug’s words, “In essence, we have doubled the size of Christ’s church here in Yorktown by saving lives elsewhere! This is one of the true beauty’s of being United Methodist-we are a globally connected church!”

In final total, St. Luke’s UMC has donated $27,742.64 to the Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria Initiative. Truly, “Every Life Saved A Life!"