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Rip and Roll

Rolling bangages for the Covenant Church of Congo

CHICAGO, IL (November 10, 2010) – About 100 North Park University students spent 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.

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 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 Roger’s wife, Eileen, who served with him in Congo.

It was that need that led 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 a college students, it’s hard to find ways to help nonprofits,” said junior Michelle Wells. “This is something we can do to help someone around the world.”

Eileen Thorpe, 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 how the bandages are used.

The Paul Carlson Partnership is named for the Covenant medical missionary 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.

The bandage rolling was part of THRIVE week, sponsored by University Ministries. Eugene Cho, the founder of One Day’s Wages, told the students that thriving was not living a life of ease, but of engaging in the grittiness of life and doing what God had 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 needed to be planted and pruned in their lives.