By Rev. Mary Kathryn Pearce
Dunlap Prospect UMC
Imagine No Malaria...
...safe and blessed living quite comfortably in Illinois makes it difficult for one to contemplate malaria. So, how does one begin to: "Imagine No Malaria?"
I believe it is easier for 21st century disciples living their faith through a denomination called the United Methodists to "Imagine No Malaria" than any of us might easily conceptualize. It is easier because we are the United Methodists! We hold the legacy of being mighty change agents.
Our history -- our foremothers and forefathers of this faith -- embraced a theology which set high standards for being the change-agents to attempt with heart, mind, and soul, to bring wholeness and healing to those most in need. John Wesley applied the lenses of his heart to understand the relationship between poverty and poor health. He expected a high level of accountability for those who became the Methodists to care for those on the margins of society. And, for those who had no access, he took it upon himself to create availability for care. Wesley recruited health care workers to provide free clinics for others; he spent his experiential and academic energy in writing Primitive Physic: An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases.
Today, in this global community, the margins of society can be found in many of the communities in Africa. The health infrastructure has never been constructed; there is a lack of sustainable access to basic nutritious foods, clean water, shelter, and necessary medicines; and there is an unacceptable lack of public health care professionals.
The denomination's Global Health Initiative addresses this horrific lack of health infrastructure and is the essence of the 21st century call to all United Methodists to attend to those on today's margins of society. As John Wesley so eloquently spoke in the 1700's that the world was his parish, so the world is the parish for of all United Methodists today. Wesley confronted the English system of medicine being available to only the wealthy and for those who knew how to acquire health care.
How we respond to the call to "Imagine No Malaria" will become today's disciples' legacy. We are called to "Imagine No Malaria" and stand with those who are on the margins of society, but also to work diligently to remove all margins. Because we have dared to "wade in the waters" of discipleship, we are the visionaries to know how to make the waves of change. We can "Imagine No Malaria" and, as United Methodists, we must succeed!