By Robert Dilday
Christian groups battling malaria by distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets are seeing indications their efforts are paying off, says the leader of one organization engaged in West Africa, where the disease is a leading cause of death.
A recent assessment by More Than Nets, Virginia Baptists’ malaria prevention and church planting project with the Ghana Baptist Convention, suggests a significant reduction in a region of the nation now completely “netted.”
Records show that the number of malaria cases in the Adibo sub-district has declined by 42 percent in the last year.
“As far as we can see at this time, there has been no other change to the Adibo sub-district over the previous 12 months other than the distribution of nets to the entire district,” said Dean Miller, team leader of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s glocal missions team.
More Than Nets was launched in 2012 to distribute 100,000 mosquito nets and provide education about malaria prevention, while also starting 300 new churches in northeastern Ghana. So far the initiative has distributed more than 30,000 nets and organized 112 congregations.
“We have potentially saved 969 lives through our efforts,” said Miller. “When we add over 400 baptisms to that number, we feel blessed to make such a Kingdom difference through this partnership.”
One key participant in the project has been tapped to take the helm of His Nets, a similar organization which has collaborated closely with More Than Nets.
Steve Nethery, pastor of Horizon Community Church in Chesapeake, Va., will serve as executive director of His Nets, created by Baptist missionaries 10 years ago. Nethery will remain pastor of the Baptist congregation in Chesapeake.
He succeeds Andi Sullivan, a founder of His Nets, who stepped down to concentrate on her role as senior program officer on Partners of America’s agriculture and food security team. She continues to serve on the organization’s board of directors and in an advisory capacity to the staff.
“Rev. Nethery comes to His Nets with experience in net distribution in Ghana,” said Jimmy Lewis of Toccoa, Ga., president of the board of directors. “We believe he comes to the position with the right gifts to lead the organization in the coming years.”