Imagine No Malaria Gifts top $15 Million

Date Posted: 3/2/2011

Gifts to Imagine No Malaria recently surpassed $15 million, thanks to caring United Methodists who donated to special offerings and participated in fundraisers to wipe out the mosquito-borne disease.

And every dollar helps.

The World Health Organization reported that in 2008 there were 247 million cases of malaria and nearly a million deaths. In Africa, a child dies from malaria every 45 seconds; the disease accounts for 20 percent of all childhood deaths.

Since The United Methodist Church launched the Imagine No Malaria campaign on World Malaria Day last April, congregations and annual (regional) conferences have cast a wide net of support for the lifesaving initiative.

The Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, for example, gave $500,000, kicking off a three-year campaign to fight malaria. In addition, some 6,000 conference youth at a special January event, ROCK 2011, shared a special offering of $18,000.

“Malaria kills enough people to fill two jumbo jets every day,” the conference’s Bishop John R. Schol told the youth. “We know nets are important, but with Imagine No Malaria, we are helping to bring more education about the disease, training health-care workers and improving hospitals and clinics in Africa.”

The work is a reminder of the promise in Ephesians 3:20 “that God can deliver more than we can ask or imagine,” says the Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director of the United Methodist Global Health Initiative.

“Young people in the Baltimore-Washington Conference and across the country are imagining no malaria and taking loving, generous action to make it real,” he said.

Churches ‘Go Out and Make Things Happen’

Leia Williams, an Imagine No Malaria field coordinator, reported significant progress from Grace United Methodist Church in Alamogordo, N.M. The 1,100-member congregation raised more than $35,000 in two weeks, in effect, saving 3,500 lives in Africa.

Starting the day with breakfast at the church, participants learned about Impact 100, a monthly giving program that helps save the lives of 100 people at risk for malaria. Fourteen people signed up. The next weekend, they had a Sunday to Save Lives worship celebration.

Northwest Texas Annual Conference churches designated Sunday, Feb. 6, for this event to educate congregations about malaria and The United Methodist Church’s commitment to raise $75 million to eliminate the deadly, preventable disease.

That afternoon, the adults enjoyed music and guest speakers, and the children built radio towers out of pipe cleaners to illustrate how communication is important in the fight against malaria. The children created mosquito models to learn how malaria is transmitted, and they explored a science center to discover how malaria infects red blood cells. A lively puppet show taught them how they could help their brothers and sisters in Africa get bed nets.

The east campus of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Amarillo, Texas, will highlight Imagine No Malaria as part of its World Outreach Week on May 1-8.

“On Sunday, May 1,” said the Rev. J. Stanley Cosby, senior pastor, “we will launch the week and take a special offering for Imagine No Malaria.” He plans to promote the mission emphasis week significantly. The average attendance for the congregation is 700.

“Those churches know what they can do, and they just go out and make things happen,” said Rob Naylor, Imagine No Malaria communications coordinator.

In Pittsburgh, a U2Charist drew children, youth and adults to the Hard Rock Café. A U2Charist is a communion service, accompanied by songs by the Irish rock band U2. The message encouraged people to rally around the Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to eradicate malaria in Africa by 2015.

The Rev. Erik A. Hoeke brought a group from his congregation in West Newton, Pa. He reflected on the experience. “Recently I preached on Matthew 5:13-20, in which Jesus declares that we are the light of the world,” he wrote in his blog. “But how can anyone see our light shine when we're hiding under the bushel baskets of our sanctuaries?

“Last night, the light of Western Pennsylvania United Methodists radiated through Hard Rock. We placed ourselves in the world, and let our light shine as we received Christ's body and fought to eradicate malaria. We need to be doing these things more often.”

House Parties Mark World Malaria Day

House parties are another way to spread the word about Imagine No Malaria.

The United Nations-sponsored World Malaria Day is April 25, and United Methodists are hosting house parties to mark the day — and change the future.

“Ending malaria-related deaths is a goal that requires the commitment of United Methodists around the globe, but the fight against malaria can start in your own living room,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, campaign spokesperson. “Hosting a house party is an easy way to support World Malaria Day.”

A house party is a cause-oriented fundraising event held in a private home, a church or another community setting. The goal is for each party to raise money for the cause, either through single donations or a monthly pledge, and for party-givers to spread the word by inviting others to host parties and join the fight against malaria.

“We are in this fight,” Bickerton said. “We will win it; we will save millions of children’s lives, making sure these smiling faces see a bright future.”

Last November, Imagine No Malaria representatives distributed 400,000 mosquito-repelling bed nets in the Bo District of Sierra Leone and trained 3,700 community workers to install the nets and teach malaria prevention. Nationwide, the effort distributed more than 3 million nets to protect the country’s vulnerable population.

Now “we are re-engaging that network to conduct follow-up activities in Sierra Leone,” Naylor said. “As we establish these grassroots networks throughout Africa, we will not only be able to engage people about malaria but also to go beyond that — to fight other diseases of poverty.”

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.

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