(Bishop Paul L. Leeland) I, along with our entire church, was stunned to hear the disappointing news that Dr. Sam Dixon, Director of the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR), did not survive the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti. Personally, I experienced the unexpected grief of his death as my mind immediately recalled how years ago we began our shared ministry in the North Carolina Conference. While serving in the same district, we visited in each other’s parsonages, shared more meals together than I could recall, participated in conference youth events and worked on conference missions. Our friendship was merged in our common desire to serve Jesus Christ. I will miss him and his valiant heart for the poor.
Following Sam’s memorial service last week in Raleigh, NC, I joined my family for the evening meal before returning to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. The evening television was captured by a telethon request for financial support of those in Haiti. My five-year-old grandson, Andrew, noticed the pictures of children in Haiti crying and asked his mother, “Mommy, why are they crying?” She gently told him about the earthquake and how badly they needed everyone to help them. The following morning Andrew emerges from his bedroom carrying his piggybank. As he comes to the breakfast table he simply told his mother he wanted to help those children who need our help. He opened his piggybank and gave everything, $2.70. He gave it all.
As I drove home that morning, I remarked how great it would be if each member of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, like Andrew, could give $2.70. Those who wish to do the math will be surprised to discover it would be more than $675,000. I’d like to invite every member of our conference to give $2.70. I don’t think we can do any less.