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Rip and Roll – Helping Save Lives in Congo

CHICAGO, IL (November 16, 2010) – About 100 North Park University students spent a recent Friday afternoon in Hamming Hall saving the lives of hundreds of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The students gathered to “Rip and Roll” – tear bed sheets and sew them into bandages that are used in hospitals and clinics operated by the Covenant Church of Congo. See additional photos below.

That may not sound like much to people who live in a country where bandages can be purchased for a couple of dollars at the local drug store. In Congo, however, bandages are in precious short supply.

People who know the need all to well expressed gratitude for the students’ work.

“This is tremendous,” said Dr. Roger Thorpe, a career medical missionary with the Evangelical Covenant Church to the African nation. “These bandages are terribly important. We used them all the time. We used them, not just for wounds, but also to hold up IV bottles, and we even used them to put people in traction.”

The medical facilities are in “desperate need” of the bandages, said Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Covenant’s Department of World Mission. Peterson, who just returned from Congo, said dispensaries are unable to fill the requests for bandages.

It was that need that led North Park senior Aaron Mead to help. He spent many years growing up in Kenya, where his father was a physician and missionary. “I know how important this is,” he said as he cut a starter slit into one of the sheets.

“As college students, it’s hard to find ways to help nonprofits,” said junior Michelle Wells, a member of Creekside Covenant Church. “This is something we can do to help someone around the world.”

Eileen Thorpe (accompanying photo), who instructed students on tearing the sheets and did some of the sewing, noted, “It’s a fun way to help the people of Congo.” That was obvious at the gathering.

The sounds of sheets ripping and students laughing echoed throughout Hamming. Piles of ripped sheets grew several feet high before being taken to the back of the room to be sewn into bandages.

The afternoon also was educational. “I didn’t even know what (bandage rolling) was,” said junior Nikki Bennett. Several speakers, including Thorpe and Byron Miller, director of the Paul Carlson Partnership, shared with the students the need and explained how the bandages are used.

The Paul Carlson Partnership is named for Covenant medical missionary Dr. Paul Carlson who was martyred in Congo after being taken hostage by rebels in 1964. Although many Westerners evacuated the country during the uprising, Carlson had stayed behind to continue treating those in need.

Rip and Roll is a ministry initiated by the Department of Women Ministries.

The bandage rolling was part of THRIVE week, sponsored by University Ministries. Eugene Cho, the founder of One Day’s Wages, suggested to students that thriving is not living a life of ease, but rather engaging in the grittiness of life and doing what God has called them to do.

One Day’s Wages is a nonprofit that has received recognition in national publications, including the New York Times, for encouraging people to donate one day of their wages to help the poor. Cho, who also is pastor of Quest Church, an Evangelical Covenant Church, asked the students to consider what needs to be planted and pruned in their lives.

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