Combating malaria with a birthday wish and a prayer

As Nate Beaird’s 30th birthday approaches, he’s not thinking about gifts or parties, but how many children he can help protect from malaria.

By James Addis, World Vision U.S.
Published April 25, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

Nate Beaird of Des Moines, Iowa, has an audacious request. Will you give $30 as a present for his 30th birthday?

A unique birthday wish

The digital communications manager for Open Bible Churches does not want the money for himself. He wants to raise $300,000 so World Vision can provide 50,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to help prevent the spread of malaria.

According to the World Health Organization, one child dies every 56 seconds from malaria.

Nate says at least two children can sleep under a single net, so the provision of 50,000 nets could potentially save 100,000 lives. But to raise the money, he needs at least 10,000 people to ante up the $30 for his birthday, which he will celebrate on October 20.

The power of social media

So far, Nate remains undaunted by the challenge, believing that the power of social media will draw people to his website, HappyBirthdayNate.com, where they can donate.

“I had been looking at the number of people on my Facebook newsfeed. I started to think, ‘What can I do with this platform?’” he says.

“Thirty dollars is nothing — especially when we know it’s for such a practical and doable thing, to save lives.”

He notes that the recently released “Kony 2012” video — which urged people to publicize the crimes of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony — achieved a spectacular response and demonstrates the power of social media to galvanize support for important causes.

Inspired by ‘Crazy Love’

Every 60 seconds, a child dies from malaria. But a simple $6 bed net can help save lives and break the cycle of this disease. (Photo: Kenneth Kibet/World Vision)  Nate adds that he was unenthusiastic about getting gifts on his birthday, as all his material needs are being met. He says he was inspired to make a positive impact in the world and his community after reading preacher Francis Chan’s bestselling book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Restless God.

In the book, Chan writes, “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Money donated through Nate’s website goes directly to World Vision to fund the bed nets. He launched the website on March 17 and so far has raised more than $1,500.

Four ways you can help

Thank God for the way he inspired Nate to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and familes around the world. Pray that his endeavor would be blessed. 

Visit HappyBirthdayNate.com to learn more and donate to provide insecticide-treated bed nets. This inexpensive intervention can last for several years, providing vulnerable children with a shield against malaria-carrying mosquitoes while they sleep.

Give monthly to help us fight malaria around the world. Tragically, this disease still devastates communities and perpetuates the cycle of poverty, even though it’s entirely preventable. Your monthly contribution will help our efforts to stop malaria for good.

Host a Malaria Sunday at your church. You can join with your congregation to make a difference in the global fight against deadly malaria.