"Hey mister, can you spare a dime? How about some nickels, quarters, and even some pennies?" We all have them - those loose bits of change that have a habit of accumulating in the bottoms of our purses and dresser drawers. We casually toss them into the consoles of our vehicles. They often have a way of disappearing into the deep, dark abyss of the car wash vacuum cleaner. If you're like most, you shrug your shoulders and think to yourself, "Oh well, it's only a nickel, only a handful of pennies, only a dime." But just imagine for a moment if only all that loose, dispensable change within the confines of Lycoming County was somehow gathered up, placed into containers and given away, for the purpose of making a difference in the lives of many.
Ashley Paulhamus, a missionary in training at Faith Wesleyan Church, 1033 Tucker St., is working to make that imagery a reality with her "Change the World" project. The purpose of the project is to raise funds to purchase a new X-ray machine for the Zimba Mission Hospital in Zambia, Africa. According to the hospital website, the Zimba Mission Hospital was founded in 1960 as a clinic and upgraded to a hospital a few years later. The purpose of Zimba Mission Hospital is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and demonstrate the love of Christ through Christians working in the ministry of medicine.
In December 2011, Dan and Joan Jones, doctors at the Zimba Missions Hospital, visited Faith Wesleyan Church and talked to the congregation about their work in Zambia. After their presentation they were asked by the church's pastor, Rev. Tim Hartzell, if there was a special project the church could do to support their work. The Jones' revealed a dire need for a new X-ray machine to replace the antiquated equipment that currently is in place. The price tag for purchasing, shipping and installing this much needed equipment? A whopping $40,000.
From left, Tim Hartzell, Ashley Paulhamus and Heather Hartzell.
Hartzell later met with Paulhamus for discussion of ideas on raising funds for this much-needed equipment. "We're not a very large church, so the idea of raising $40,000 seemed a little crazy," Hartzell recalled. "But as we threw fundraising ideas around, we realized that $40,000 is nothing more than 80,000 people donating 50 cents each. That little thought led to the birth of 'Change the World.' Now we're just trying to figure out how to get those 80,000 people to give their 50 cents!"
In June 2012, Paulhamus met with Heather Hartzell, director of children's ministry at Faith Wesleyan. The subject of the X-ray machine project came up, and Heather agreed that Vacation Bible School would provide a wonderful opportunity to raise the children's awareness of global missions. On the first night of VBS, Heather shared with the kids that their offerings would support two global missions projects, one of them being the new X-ray machine at the Zimba Hospital. The children and their parents responded to the need quite generously, with a total of $3,687.88 in offerings.
"The kids were so excited about giving," Paulhamus said. "Piggy banks were emptied. Birthday money that had been formerly earmarked for new iPods, cameras and a doll was instead eagerly donated to missions. It was so touching to see the kids' response," Paulhamus added.
After VBS, Tim Hartzell and Paulhamus met once again to discuss how to raise additional funds, and decided to ask the church family
to fill up large medicine bottles with their loose change, and donate it to the cause. Not only was the church family asked to give their loose change, but they were challenged to get the community involved by asking family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to donate their change, too. The idea gained instant enthusiasm, and "Change the World" officially was born.
"The church family has really stepped up in helping raise the money for this machine," Paulhamus said. "There has been a lot going on in the church family, as there are other projects to support as well. Even with all of this, they have been very supportive and a huge help in getting the medicine bottles out to friends, families, and businesses." Initially it was thought that the church would have to purchase those medicine bottles, but as it turned out, the bottles were very generously donated by an individual who found out about the project and wanted to help.
The congregation has been very creative in some of its endeavors to collect the change. According to Paulhamus, "One of our couples owns a business in the Lycoming Mall, and has placed a large donation container on the counter. Every couple weeks, they bring that container, filled with change, to the church. Another person has issued a challenge on Facebook, offering to match donations, up to a specified dollar amount."
Students from the Williamsport Area High School got involved by holding a competition between homerooms to see which one could bring in the most change. The winning homeroom then was rewarded with a pizza party, courtesy of Paulhamus' parents. Sunday school classes at the Lighthouse Wesleyan Church in Jersey Shore supported the project by raising close to $160. Paulhamus also is thankful for the support "Change the World" has received from the Woodlands Bank and from Brennan's Coffee and Deli.
Paulhamus' enthusiasm for the Zimba project is rooted in her experiences while traveling overseas to the Dominican Republic and Bolivia, where she had opportunities to serve on medical outreach teams in poverty stricken villages. She has observed first-hand the pressures of trying to provide adequate medical care with limited supplies and outdated equipment, and is able to greatly empathize with the health care professionals of the Zimba Hospital. "Without this machine, the medical staff at the Zimba Missions Hospital has to improvise, or make do with what they have," Paulhamus explained. "In an environment where patients' lives are at stake, that kind of situation can be extremely frustrating."
Paulhamus is employed as a phlebotomist by the Susquehanna Health Regional Medical Center, and feels very blessed to work in a modern health care facility where patients benefit daily from treatment with modern, state-of-the art medical equipment and procedures. Although she very much enjoys her work at the hospital, Paulhamus recently made an exciting announcement which revealed the depth of her true passion, which is working in overseas missions. "I'm going to Africa. I still can't believe it," Paulhamus exclaimed. "My wildest childhood dream is coming true for me. I have always wanted to travel to Africa, and this September that will no longer be just a dream, but probably one of the most valuable memories I could ever ask for."
Paulhamus will be working at the Zimba Missions Hospital with Drs. Dan and Joan Jones, and with the hospital chaplain. "I pray that I can not only help people with their physical and medical needs, but also help them know and understand that we have a sweet Savior who loves us more than we can ever know," Paulhamus said. Her appointment to the four-month term in Zambia is through Global Partners, which is the mission arm for the Wesleyan church. Their mission is to exalt Jesus Christ by calling and mobilizing believers to global ministries of evangelism, church planting, leadership development and ministries of compassion.
It's now been almost a year since the "Change the World" project began, and the church has exceeded 30 percent of the goal, with close to $13,000 raised. Paulhamus hopes to accelerate the process of raising the remaining funds by increasing community awareness. Considering the magnitude of the project, there may be those who question why a used X-ray machine could not be donated instead. According to Tim Hartzell, "Initially, we began seeking a used X-ray machine to ship to Zimba. But after consulting with a specialist that installs medical equipment in foreign mission fields, we came to the conclusion that we needed a new machine and professional installation. The doctors at Zimba, many of them volunteers that travel from the U.S., need equipment that is reliable and effective. We decided early on that if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right."
Paulhamus added, "The church and community can continue to get involved in a couple ways. First, pray that God will provide the $40,000 needed to purchase the machine, and then go out there and get that change," Paulhamus said. "There are no administrative or overhead costs involved, therefore, 100 percent of all money given goes towards the purchase of the X-ray machine. Just a little bit makes a huge difference, and together we can play a part in changing the world."
Donations to the "Change the World" Zimba Project can be made on-line at www.faithwesleyanchurch.com. Checks for the project should be made payable to Faith Wesleyan Church and mailed to 1033 Tucker St., Williamsport, Attention: Zimba Project.