Foursquare churches are being asked to join forces with other Pentecostal denominations and charismatic churches to help eradicate a disease that claims almost 1 million lives annually. The unprecedented cooperative effort is targeting malaria, the devastating impact of which is part of Foursquare’s own history.
The Foursquare Church is the latest member of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) to sign on for the campaign, which centers on raising money to buy specially treated $6 bed nets that can kill mosquitoes carrying the disease.
Foursquare pastors have been asked to consider holding a “One Day to End Malaria Sunday” before the end of the year, with a special offering for the initiative. The nets will be distributed by World Vision as part of a prevention drive that also includes education programs and medications.
Although malaria was eradicated in the U.S. 60 years ago, it continues to scourge parts of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Though it is totally preventable, it remains among the leading causes of death worldwide of children under age 5. Without treatment, a child with acute malaria can die within 24 hours of contracting the disease.
In addition to the many direct deaths caused by the disease, malaria has far-reaching ancillary impacts on issues such as education and poverty. But with medical advances in both treatment and prevention, experts believe that malaria could be wiped out in a few years if new cases are reduced.
Since the PCCNA joined World Vision's efforts in 2011, more than a dozen member-denominations have organized fundraising programs that have collected a total of more than $600,000. With the group representing 40,000 congregations and 90 million Christians worldwide, “we can change the world by working together,” says PCCNA chairman Jeff Farmer.
Foursquare churches are being recruited jointly by Foursquare Missions International (FMI) and the National Church Office. Participation is being encouraged by Sterling Brackett, the denomination’s COO and corporate secretary, and its representative to PCCNA.
“Pentecostals have not historically been torchbearers on medical issues,” Sterling says. “But the technology and the medical know-how to eliminate this disease is in our hands, and we just need to do it.”
Sterling notes that malaria played an important part in the history of Foursquare—claiming the life of founder Aimee Semple McPherson’s first husband soon after they arrived in China as missionaries. Foursquare was born after her return to the U.S., but “how different would things have been had he not died; in what ways might the Lord have used her in China?” Sterling wonders.
The campaign is ideal for church-wide involvement, because even children could be part of raising enough to provide a $6 net, Sterling suggests, adding that Pentecostal churches “could be very pivotal in the elimination of malaria worldwide.”
Jeff Farmer says the drive to end malaria is the first time PCCNA members have united in such a way, and that other collaborative initiatives could follow. He thanks Foursquare churches and members for taking part.
“I want to express my gratitude to them for joining the battle,” Jeff affirms. “We are engaged in a war where the enemy we are fighting weighs just two milligrams and is half an inch long, but she is a weapon of mass destruction. This is a war we can win if we all come together.” The drive, he states, is “an opportunity to help millions, and to send a huge love letter, a gift of compassion and love saying that we care, and you matter to us.”
World Vision provides free resources for leaders looking to hold a Malaria Sunday event in their church. Find materials at worldvision.org.
Foursquare leaders and members wanting to know more about the initiative can visit Foursquare Relief and Compassion online.
By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer living in the Orlando, Fla., area