By Dr. Robert S. Bevill
Dunlap Prospect UMC
Illinois River District
I am a member of Prospect UMC in Dunlap. I am also a Family Practice physician. I have deepened my understanding of living the faith these past few years by blending my profession with my faith walk as I traveled on medical mission teams from Prospect UMC. My focus has been expanded, and I sought to be more intentional in learning more of the presence of the UMC in the global community. Prospect responded to the call to care for the "least of these" when the congregation joined the momentum provided by the program Nothing But Nets.
As a physician, I felt called to learn more about Malaria. This I knew: Malaria is a disease which does not impact most living in the United States; and, if it does, it is primarily due to travel abroad. The doors to new understandings were opening quickly as to why my concern about the wellness of others needed to expand. And a new program, Imagine No Malaria was offering me new knowledge.
I was intrigued to learn that not only were nets of great importance but also prevention and education would be critical if malaria were to be eradicated. "Imagine No Malaria" created an avenue for hundreds of thousands lives to be saved. That could only happen if the "Great Physician" were at work in the lives of those who could make this healing a reality. I answered a call to serve on a task force within our congregation as we chose to focus on how Prospect UMC would respond to Imagine No Malaria. Because of the last four years of being educated through Nothing But Nets, I and others were prepared to move quickly and with confidence that our congregation would commit monetary support to this necessary campaign. We set a goal of 40,000 PLUS. The campaign would last four weeks; covenant cards would be created and mailed with a personal letter from the Pastor; and Save a Life Sunday would be celebrated at the conclusion of the fourth week. Today, we are on the PLUS side of the goal and are confident that additional funding will be received.
How did it happen?! For four consecutive weeks materials were freely distributed, banners made, and strategically planned sermons reminded the congregation about God's great gift of unconditional love for all. All age levels and ministry teams were included in the opportunities to learn and respond through giving. Our youth helped to kick-off our emphasis by participating in the B-1 program (a program designed for youth to learn about the needs of others), and acquired pledges as a part of the event for Imagine No Malaria.
God's Spirit works through all of us and His Word is powerful! When persons are open to being educated about facts and figures and then having the knowledge be transformed into images of children, action results. This is a comprehensive program which enables everyone to move from imagining the dream to seeing the reality! $10 can save a life-that is the reality. In my practice of Family Medicine that is nearly impossible! But because of the United Methodist Church and its global health partners, every time I drive into the parking lot of Prospect UMC, I am able to visualize nearly 5000 children gathered with the gift of life. The Great Physician continues to be at work! What a partnership: the Great Physician, the United Methodist Church, and God's faithful children all joining forces to enhance the wellness of others!