Tuesday, June 15, 2010
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Imagine No Malaria
Malaria was “contagious” at the recent North Texas Annual Conference in Wichita Falls, although not in a medical sense.
No one was in danger of contracting the disease there, but excitement about eradicating malaria from Africa was a hot topic in the exhibit booth hall, on the Conference stage and at the Clergy/Laity event on opening night.
Eradicated from the U.S. for the past 50 years, malaria still strikes a precious child of God every 30 seconds in Africa. That’s a shocking record of 120 childhood deaths every hour of every day.
On opening night, the Conference worship service offering was earmarked entirely for a new United Methodist campaign to combat this deadly threat, described by Rev. Gary Henderson, Executive Director of the United Methodist Church's Global Health Initiative.
It’s a denomination-wide initiative, called “Imagine No Malaria,” intended to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by the year 2015.
These children, explained Rev. Henderson, are dying from a preventable, beatable and treatable disease, which he labels as an unbearable situation, especially since every child means the world to somebody!
For example, recently, Rev. Henderson visited his great niece, who is the apple of her great uncle’s eye. She’s two and a half years old, and he thanks God that he does not have to worry about malaria: that he can expect his niece to grow into adulthood.
North Texas Conference Bishop Earl Bledsoe recently visited Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo, where he actually witnessed the death of one of the children stricken with malaria: “It was a heartbreaking, humbling experience,” recalled the Bishop, who promised to continue his contributions to “Imagine No Malaria,” and urged all of us to do the same.
”Imagine if these children had the opportunity to grow to adulthood,” said Rev. Henderson. “Imagine if we could change millions of lives for generations to come. As the people of the United Methodist Church, we have the opportunity, through “Imagine No Malaria,” to do exactly that.”
Rev. Henderson says this new initiative enlarges our territory, playing on The Prayer of Jabez theme: “We have collaborated with a large mobile community to participate in eliminating malaria deaths,” he added. “Notable among our partners is the United Nations Foundation, with whom we were in a founding partner relationship with our previously successful program, “Nothing But Nets.”
As most United Methodists know, “Nothing but Nets” was a giant first step, and “Imagine No Malaria” is now viewed as the next, a much more expansive, step toward the actual elimination of deaths from malaria.
The goal is to raise $75 million dollars, yes, that's $75 million dollars, to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by the year 2015--just five years away--in partnership with our brothers and sisters in Africa. To empower an entire continent to achieve a sustainable victory over the disease. Africa must win this fight, but they need our help, said Rev. Henderson.
Among the keys to the success of this campaign are (1) prevention (providing bed nets and interrupting the mosquito’s life cycle), (2) education (training family and health workers), (3) communication (the ability to deliver messages about malaria and treatment through our hospitals and clinics).
Also at Annual Conference, a puppet show highlighted some targets of opportunity in the new initiative, and some recent fund-raising events. One 10-year-old boy, for instance, raised $10,000 for the program. Others talked about posting on Facebook, and other social media, to create interest in contributing to “Imagine No Malaria.”
A booth in the Conference exhibit hall was manned with volunteers, brochures, and an opportunity to earn a special “zap malaria” bracelet, the mark of being a “warrior” in this initiative. The bottom line is that United Methodists can do this, church by church, if everyone works at getting the word out.
This is a transformational moment, believe Rev. Henderson and Bishop Bledsoe, because we have an opportunity to participate in the transformation of the world, through “Imagine No Malaria,” and thus see children grow into adulthood to become disciples of Jesus Christ, to embrace this Kyros moment at the appointed time in the purpose of God and--most important--to do something!
Rev. Henderson said the gauntlet has been thrown down in Southwest Texas by Bishop James Dorff, and the members of the Annual Conference there. “They stepped out first to help launch the fund raising arm of “Imagine No Malaria,” he explained. “But, Bishop Dorff learned much of what he knows about ministry here in the North Texas Conference. You were his teachers. So, now we call upon the teachers--all of you--to respond to the student.”
To learn more about malaria and the new United Methodist initiative, and the issues around both, visit this website,
Meanwhile, Rev. Henderson suggests raising malaria awareness in every way you can, pray, claim the Scripture of Ephesians 3:20-21 and agree to save lives!