(Susan Hunt) - 65,321. That is roughly the population of the city of Dothan, Alabama. That is also how many people in Africa will now have the chance to live because of the effort you, the Alabama-West Florida Conference, have made toward beating malaria through the Imagine No Malaria campaign. We are now 65.3% of the way to our goal of saving 100,000 lives.
Imagine No Malaria is the commitment by the United Methodist Church to fight malaria and end deaths due to this completely preventable and treatable disease. Our conference is among the many annual conferences that are joining in this effort. This is a historic campaign in the life of our churches, conference, and for the denomination as a whole because it is the single largest mission ever undertaken by the United Methodist Church.
We are putting our faith into action! Jesus has sent us in to this world to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. With Imagine No Malaria, we are doing both. For example, in Sierra Leone, the Bo district of the Sierra Leone conference took up the effort to train community health workers. They distributed education materials, treated bed nets, medication, and so much more. In this area where the majority of the population is not Christian, the people were so impressed with the compassion and non-discriminatory approach taken by the health workers that at least six communities requested churches and health centers. Bishop John Yambasu said, “The good news is that while we aimed at healing souls, a miracle was taking place - God was at work using the ministry to win souls at the same time. Together we celebrate the Holy Spirit at work in the life of our denomination.”
At the recent conference CORE team meeting, I spontaneously challenged everyone present to join me in saving a few lives each. They met that challenge and we saved 37 lives right then! This is the same group – the leadership representing the connectional ministries of our conference – who, along with other conference leadership, resolved to take up the challenge of joining with the rest of the connection to end the needless deaths because of malaria. To end a disease! Maybe your own church leadership council can take up an offering at its next meeting, too. With this type of determination, our conference can reach its goal soon.
Thank you for hearing the call to act. Thank you for saying yes. Thank you for joining with United Methodists across the world as we say a resounding “NO” to death and suffering caused by malaria. This task is the power of our connectional system – one Church, across this globe, all working together. Because of you, we are saving and changing lives.
Visit www.awfumc.org/inmprogress to see detailed progress reports of all churches throughout our conference. Each district set their goals for participation, and many churches have done marvelous work in reaching those goals.
Click here to see how our work through Imagine No Malaria is also starting new faith communities and churches throughout the continent of Africa.