Imagine! No Malaria?

Anopheles stephensi mosquito, one of the few dozen species of the genus Anopheles that carry malaria

Anopheles stephensi mosquito, one of the few dozen species of the genus Anopheles that carry malaria

Can you imagine a world without malaria?  I suppose to us here in the US, that seems so easy.  According to the CDC’s website, malaria was eliminated in the US in the 1950’s, with the 1500-2000 cases reported from recent travelers to areas of the world where it is prevalent.  According to the Imagine No Malaria website, every sixty seconds, malaria claims another life on the continent of Africa.  That’s 525,600 people, most of them children under five.  Imagine No Malaria is an ambitious, wide-ranging, all-encompassing attack on the disease on the continent, with the goal of eliminating the disease from the continent by the end of the decade.  The United Methodist Church is partnering with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Red Cross/Red Crescent; and the World Health Organization and is creating a way to address not only the disease itself, the social stigma that too often follows in some areas when a family member is killed by the disease.  From eradicating the swamps where the Anopheles mosquitoes breed, through the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito netting, to education and the creation of public health infrastructures, INM moves forward, seeing a day when no one on the continent of Africa will die from malaria.

They estimate that it costs about $100 US to save a life through INM.  Lisa and I give $50 a month, which means we have the privilege of saving six lives a year.  Six people will be alive at the end of 2014 who otherwise would have died, just because we send some of our too-much money to INM.  The Northern Illinois Conference has pledged to raise $1 million dollars by next year, and are three quarters the way there already, in gifts and pledges.  Elsewhere, an individual gave $1 million to INM.  If you click here, you’ll go right to the donation page.  100% of the money you give goes to INM.

While a few here in the US bicker over silly issues, a third of the way around the world, United Methodists are working hand in hand with local and regional groups and NGOs to transform the world in the name of Jesus Christ.  Those who threaten schism not only threaten our local churches here in the US, tying them up in bitter arguments and possible legal action; they also endanger the very real work saving lives the United Methodist Church is doing right now.  Imagine No Malaria is certainly our largest, most ambitious endeavor, but it is hardly the only one our denomination supports.  We have schools right here in the US, in the Appalachians and in poverty-stricken areas of New Mexico.  There are United Methodist Hospitals, colleges, universities, and United Methodist-related seminaries across the United States.  We have programs across the globe addressing poverty, illness, social dislocation, the plight of refugees, women who are victims of pandemic violence against women around the world, and so much more.  All of that is put in question by a few people who are more worried about who other people are sleeping with than whether or not we United Methodists are saving lives, transforming the world in the name of Jesus Christ.   Considering the stakes, our current schism talk is selfish, even sinful.  We threaten the mission of the United Methodist Church over some people’s fear of changing social mores and legal and social codes here in the United States.  It is idolatrous, putting the Church, one denomination, ahead of the calling of Jesus Christ to go make disciples and change the world in His name and for His sake.

Just a reminder to click that “donate” link above.  It doesn’t take too long, it doesn’t take all that much to save a life, and, of course, it’s tax deductible!

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