Polio was the epidemic of the 1950's in the United States. Old and young, rich and poor, stood in lines to have their children or themselves protected from infantile paralysis, permanent disabilities or death.
As a 9-year-old in 1954, I hated polio shots. But I loved the oral vaccine. It meant no more needles. America had engaged the scourge of polio as an enemy. It was to be "a fight to the finish." While we don't have a world without polio, the unfettered march of the disease in the United States has been virtually eliminated. Uncle Sam had imagined a world without polio and delivered.
The United Methodist Church and its Global Partners have imagined a world without malaria. We haven't succeeded yet. Malaria is a mosquito borne disease caused by a parasite. Victims experience fever, chills and flu-like illness. Left untreated, death occurs.
At this moment, EVERY 60 SECONDS A CHILD DIES OF MALARIA. By raising $2.5 million for Imagine No Malaria, we have slowed the death rate in Africa. We've funded much needed research and enhanced methods of prevention. We've helped fund the distribution of 1.9 million mosquito nets through the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
To complete our $2.5 million goal, we have approximately $122,000 to raise between now and the first night of Annual Conference. Lenten offerings have been taken. Pledges made three years ago have continued to come in. An offering will be taken in the Opening Worship service. Bring your check book. And I'll bring mine. With God's help, I will take an extra offering if needed.
And WHEN WE GO OVER THE TOP RAISING THE $2.5 MILLION for Imagine No Malaria, you'll see the Bishop's RED FLANNELS crossing the finish line signifying WE FINISHED WHAT WE STARTED. Hallelujah. I can hardly wait for that GREAT CELEBRATION. We can do anything with God's help!!!