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Featured: I Am United Methodist: Monica Kleman

Monica Kleman

Photo courtesy of Monica Kleman

Monica Kleman

I Am United Methodist: Monica Kleman


Crystal Caviness
January-February 2016

When Monica Kleman listens to God, important things happen

Monica Kleman understands stewardship.

The 37-year-old wife and mother of five has experienced firsthand the adage "you can't outgive God."

"I've always been faithful in my giving," says Kleman, who became a Christian in college. "It's not even always money. I am just as giving of my time."

Kleman, her husband, Jay, and their children attend Trinity United Methodist Church in Ottawa, Ohio. The family of seven participates in Bible studies, youth group and regular church activities.

Kleman's most recent giving mission began during Lent 2015 when her pastor, the Rev. Lynda Lockwood, shared a video that focused on Imagine No Malaria, an initiative of the people of The United Methodist Church to eliminate malaria deaths.

"The part that resonated with me is that a person dies every minute from malaria [according to the World Health Organization's 2015 year-end report]. It bothered me so much that I couldn't sleep. (It was) enough that I told myself that I've got to do something," Kleman says.

Kleman soon learned that a contribution of $10 to Imagine No Malaria would purchase one insecticide-treated bed net or two rounds of malaria medicine.

"All I could think of is ‘I can do this. This is doable,'" she says.

As Kleman considered ways to raise money, she thought about selling unused household items, such as a treadmill. When she heard about a seasonal part-time job at the local Elder Beerman department store, she decided this opportunity could help her raise the desired money.

"At first I was thinking that $500 seemed like the magic number (to donate)," she says. "But literally, it was God speaking to my heart saying ‘Give it all; dedicate this job to Imagine No Malaria.'"

When Kleman broached the subject with Jay, he quickly responded, "That's awesome!"

‘We just have to listen to God'

Although it was Kleman who spent five to six hours a day unloading trucks and stocking shelves, the part-time job affected the entire family. Because she often left home as early as 4:30 a.m., the children, who range in age from 2 to 16, became responsible for many morning chores, along with her husband, who is a pharmacist. All of the tasks but one usually are under control, Kleman says. "I can't keep up with the laundry," she admits.

Kleman's aim was to donate $1,000 to Imagine No Malaria. As the Christmas season ended, she had exceeded her goal, sending the money each time she was paid. Following their mother's example, the Kleman children also donated $50, with each child taking $10 of his or her Christmas money to purchase a bed net.

The Klemans' contribution has joined more than $3.5 million raised to date by the West Ohio Conference for Imagine No Malaria.

"Thanks be to God for the compassionate presence of Jesus Christ alive in Monica," says Dave Boling, conference coordinator for Imagine No Malaria and associate director of the West Ohio Council on Development. "It's the same living presence that has swept through West Ohio and ignited hundreds of congregations to become the lifesaving body of Christ for the people, especially the children of sub-Sahara Africa."

Kleman is no stranger to being obedient to God and the ensuing provision. Fifteen years ago, while a single mother and working fulltime to put herself through nursing school, she felt convicted to drop her paycheck into the offering plate following an impactful sermon. Upon leaving the church, she realized that she had $5 in her purse to last her and her young daughter until the next paycheck.

The next day, Kleman received a call from the college finance office saying she had extra money in her account that she needed to withdraw. Then she received a refund check in the mail from an overpayment of a doctor's bill.

Within 24 hours, Kleman says, the amount of the paycheck – to the penny – was repaid to her through unexpected means.

By the end of the week, Kleman learned that she had been selected for a scholarship that would pay her remaining tuition and living expenses, including car payment and babysitter costs.

"I didn't have any worries about money for the rest of my college," she says.

"I think it's important when God puts things on your heart that you know, through God, you can make a difference," Kleman says.

Monica and Jay Kleman have heard God's call to expand their family as well. Four of their five children are adopted, including a sibling group of three. The family is set to adopt a sixth child, a 6-year-old boy, early this year.

"We just have to listen to God," Kleman says. "God's call is a call you can take."

Crystal Caviness is a public relations specialist at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tennessee.