Here’s an alarming statistic: every 60 seconds malaria claims a life in Africa through a mosquito bite.

The malaria death rate, however, was one every 30 seconds some three years ago. But that was before the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church threw its support behind Imagine No Malaria, a life-saving program aimed at eradicating the painful disease that costs the African continent $12 billion a year.

Great strides are being made to wipe out the disease carried by the nocturnal Anopheles mosquito through bed nets treated with insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact. For those without beds, the individual-sized net can be draped over the users for protection.

Many Africans, though, are not financially able to purchase a $10 life-saving net.

However, you can assist the campaign to eradicate malaria in Africa by attending a fundraising Christian music concert in Independence featuring Matt Vollmar and The Great Romance, a worship band from the St. Louis area.

Independence First United Methodist Church is sponsoring the 7 p.m. concert on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple Ave, Independence. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m.

Tickets are available at for $5, plus handling fees. They also can be purchased at the door.

“The concert has the potential of saving 400 lives,” says Rachel Andrisevic, director of Youth and Adult Ministries at the host church. “If we sell 1,000 tickets, which is what (the building) holds, that’s $5,000. We will put $1,000 back into the youth budget for budgeting the event and send $4,000 to Imagine No Malaria.

Selecting The Great Romance to perform wasn’t a pig in a poke. The youth at First Church heard the band perform last winter at a weekend WOW youth conference in Springfield, Mo.

“They enjoyed them immensely,” she says of the four-member band that travels across the country spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through music and more.

Says Rachel: “This concert is geared for the whole family; for anyone who likes good, clean concert music. ... (It’s) not wild or crazy, or anything like that. They write their own music ... and will bring their own speakers. So (the music) will not be loud and powerful.”

Now on its Christmas tour, the band has opened for such Christian artists as Lincoln Brewster, David Crowder, Shane and Shane, Gungor and others.

According to a news release, the name, The Great Romance, stems from what the band sees as its goal: leading others into worship.

“We want people to experience an intimate relationship with God, which is better than any other experience in life – even better than the most passionate, romantic relations imaginable. ... It’s our goal to help people know the greatest romance possible, the one with our Savior,” wrote lead vocalist Matt Vollmar, who also plays rhythm guitar.

The fundraiser, Rachel says, materialized during a discussion on how best to build up the depleted youth group, “The Mighty Warriors.”

“How about if we do a concert with The Great Romance,” Hollee Lynch, a William Chrisman High student, suggested.

“So (the event) evolved from a youth saying, ‘Let’s have a concert’ to ‘Let’s raise money for this great campaign of Imagine No Malaria,’” Rachel recalls.

“We thought that for $5 a ticket, if we could sell volume, we could really do some good work with Imagine No Malaria, plus having good family entertainment.”

The fundraiser also is another way for the entire congregation to serve the community.

“With a congregation of 180 people, we are asking everyone to be involved with it,” she says, “from the youngest to Mr. Howard Mayhew, who is 101 years old and still comes to church. We are asking everyone to get involved.”

Rachel, though, has a different way of looking at Imagine No Malaria. Her adoptive daughter, who will celebrate her sixth birthday in January, came from the Mary Morris Orphanage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The facility is run by the United Methodist Church in Kamina.

“When Kamina (renamed after the African village) was 5-months old, her mother complained of a headache,” Rachel recalls. “Within two days she was dead; we don’t know what caused her demise. She was a young woman in her 20s.”

Kamina is alive today, perhaps because she was the only child in the orphanage at the time protected by a $10 mosquito net.

Why netting for Kamina and not the other orphans?

Rachel believes it was because Kamina was the baby and they doted on her.

Says Rachel: “Kamina is perfect for America. She is perfect for out society. She just truly needs to be here.”

Rachel is optimistic malaria will soon be wiped off the face of Africa. And she believes the upcoming concert will help that happen.

“This is a faith concert,” she says, “for anyone who has faith that we can step out and have fun ... and help others in return. ... You are helping to save lives, and you never know who you are going to bless (at the concert) or who is going to bless you.”

Remember, your donation will help save a life. Please be supportive during this season of peace, love and goodwill. Africans are counting on you. Don’t let them down.

Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.