ALL IN: My Night of Nets Manifesto. Or why I am slightly obsessed with bed nets…

Chip HuberUncategorizedLeave a Comment

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Tomorrow we kick off my favorite event in the Cornerstone campus calendar. We call it night of nets…and it combines two of my greatest passions in life: the beautiful game called soccer or futbal and the people and communities of a sub-Saharan African nation called Zambia…

This is the 4th year we’ve done this event at CU and it is now one of our best attended and embraced student activities…the event is designed to use the platform of athletics in our culture to bring awareness and real change to one of the world’s greatest global issues.  We are trying to raise funds to provide insecticide treated bed nets for families that face incredible health dangers caused by the deadly disease malaria.

We’ve watched this event grow quickly in the amount of money we’ve raised, the attention given to the issue on our campus, the number of students involved, and now this year has been exported to other university and high school sports and teams to expand the impact of these truly life changing items…

To be honest, this little idea I shared first with a few CU soccer players in an impoverished community in the Dominican Republic has morphed into something I hoped and dreamed it could be…and with that growth has demanded more of my time, my resources, my thinking, and my skills as a leader and educator…

And this thing we dubbed night of nets keeps perhaps most importantly grabbing a deeper and fuller grasp of my heart…I am quite sure that many of my co-workers, friends, students, players, and family members wonder at times why I tweet so often about malaria, create & post a multitude of different visual pieces of promotion about NETS on our campus walls and doors, and cast vision almost hourly in classrooms, leadership trainings, staff meetings, soccer fields, and conversations in my office about the chance we have right now to change lives forever on the other side of the world…

So as we head into our 6 night of nets matches for this year, here’s a little list and explanation for why I am all in on this event, why I think it is one of the most important things we will do as a Christian college during the 2013-14 school year, and why it causes my heart to jump and my voice to speak loud as I join so many other people to try and end malaria in our generation…

1. I can’t think of anything more ready to be used to invite large numbers of people in my world to do great good than the power of sport…soccer is our world’s global game and there’s something so special to connect as people and friends through a game we love to watch and play…and we have watched athletes, coaches, and fans embrace with gusto their chance to make sports something beautiful and brilliant as a tool to draw many together to both watch and do something extraordinary on and off the field of play…

2. I love the way God has given a ragamuffin group of young men a cause that unites them and allows them to come together to do something that others would never expect them to do…the driving force in night of nets has been a large crew of male college soccer players who have thrown off their selfish and entitled mindsets to be remarkable advocates for a people often forgotten and marginalized in our world…and their involvement badgering and cajoling fellow students to buy a Night of Nets shirt or fund a bed net has caused them to eventually end up in Africa where God changes them into people they could have never imagined they would become…

3. The scope of the issue is so massive that it demands an immediate and real response…malaria is an awful disease that affects hundreds of millions of lives…and as Rick Warren has said the greatest issues in our world do indeed respond the greatest responses…when you end malaria, you impact positively economics, health care, education, families, and the churches of communities in unprecedented ways…

4. Something so cheap and so simple can produce transformational change. A bed net that costs $6 can alter the life, the future, the ambitions of children and families simply because they no longer have to worry about an insect bite ruining their lives…I can’t even begin to describe the opportunity bed nets provide to prevent sickness, death, orphans, and immense heartbreak and grief…a bed net is something almost everyone I know can provide for another whose life hangs in the balance without it…

5. I love the sense of unity and connectivity that this event brings to my life and the college community I love so much…Night of Nets might be one of the very few things that can draw together students from all residence buildings, student interests, and friend groups to be part of something at CU…I love seeing hundreds and hundreds of students walking across campus

6. It’s personal for me…I’ve taken hundreds of malaria pills to prevent being infected while I travel to Africa and it’s something I’ve read about in all kinds of books and journals and websites…and I am committed to trying to stop my African friends from getting infected by malaria because I’ve seen friends lose their children because a mosquito bit their son or daughter in the night as they slept…and I refuse to accept the fact that anyone dying from a ridiculously preventable disease is the way God wants our world to be in 2013…

7. I am convinced that it is something that Jesus and the Scriptures call me to do as a follower of Him and a person who is seeking to live by the words of the Bible God has written to call me to live a different life…Jesus brought physical healing, a call for justice, uplifting of the oppressed, and a love for those the world had forgotten…and He invited His disciples then and His followers even now to announce and help bring about the coming of His Kingdom…and I can’t help but want to be like Him…

The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 says it better than I could as I think about God’s call on my life to be a person who tries to have God’s love for me to move me to action…

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

So I am called by God’s voice and moved by His Spirit to be all in…to be OK with being thought of as a little overzealous, a little crazy, and a little too focused on one thing…

And being all in means I can’t wait to invite people to share God’s blessings in their live with others in great need through the gift of a bed net at Holland Christian, at Calvin College, and at Cornerstone University in the next few weeks…

And being all in means I can’t help but dream…dream of providing 5000 bed nets via Night of Nets for families that are praying God will provide one for them tonight on the other side of the world…dream that many more college and high school soccer and volleyball teams will join us to bring Night of Nets to their campuses in the near future…and dream that one day malaria will no longer be on the minds of people in Zambia just like it is never thought about by people living in my city, my state, and my country…

I can’t wait to see friends in Zambia sometime soon again…and tell them a little story about how students in Grand Rapids, MI responded to Jesus’ call in an event called Night of Nets, and then watch them sing and dance and whoop with joy as they receive a net that ends malaria in their house…

That’s why I am all in, why I love being part of Night of Nets, and why I invite you to be part of a campaign to held end malaria…

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Chip Huber is Dean of Student Engagement at Cornerstone University & Founder of NIGHT OF NETS

Chip HuberALL IN: My Night of Nets Manifesto. Or why I am slightly obsessed with bed nets…

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