Beyond imagination: An end to malaria


Imagine No Malaria giving through Aug. 31, 2013I am proud of you IGRC.  Laity and clergy have gone the second and third mile.  How? You have passionately participated in the Imagine No Malaria Campaign sponsored by The United Methodist Church.

A so-called Impossible Dream was the catalyst. Really!! We dared to believe that we could stop, eliminate and/or “deep six” malaria just like we did polio in America. (I still shudder thinking about taking polio shots as a child). So we formed a partnership with the United Nations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Fund, and the World Health Organization.  We decided to raise $75 million by the end of 2013 with the hope of putting Malaria on the ropes and knocking it out by 2015. Lord, have mercy!!

Almost three years ago, IGRC instituted a campaign to combat malaria.  And we’ve made a difference. Thousands of lives in Africa have been saved. We supported though education, purchased lifesaving bed nets; sprayed or drained mosquito infected areas, provided clean water, medical care and prayed on behalf of the children of Africa and the world. Because of our partnership with others; we have turned back the hands of time. Instead of a child/family member dying every 30 seconds of malaria in a third world country; it’s every 60 seconds.  Every day and every dollar helps us enable our brothers and sisters infected with or susceptible to the scourge of malaria “to have life and that more abundantly.”

Illinois Great Rivers’ share of the $75 million goal is roughly 3.4 percent or $2.5 million. As of Aug. 31, IGRC has raised more than $2.1 million. Left on the table is $389,791.85 to be raised. Local churches have pledged $252,569 of that amount. $167,222 is unpledged. We have to finish what we started. When we do, I will be prouder still!

Therefore, Iam asking, inviting and expecting every church, clergy and layperson to do what they can to help us finish what we started. Three acts of kindness would really help:

  • PRAY for its completion as soon as you read this column
  • ASK your pastor if your church has completed its pledge or goal for our Imagine No Malaria campaign. Help your church meet and/or exceed the goal. At the 2013 Annual Conference, we were inspired to raise our goal from $2.3 to $2.5 million.
  • IF the Holy Spirit moves you as an individual to give more, do so. Your Bishop has given and will do so again.

Nevertheless, I was reminded of the importance of the Bishop’s Stewardship Sunday, Sept. 9 at Effingham Centenary UMC. I preached twice.

In the early service, the Rev. Dr. Joe Scheets presented this Bishop with several gifts:  the first, a parking sign designating my parking place and the second a beautifully decorated piggy bank, slightly larger than a pop can, with words and pictures dramatizing our Imagine No Malaria campaign.

Why had I received an empty can?  Members of Centenary UMC have used these cans to inspire their giving to Imagine No Malaria. Upon reflection, the empty can took on a deeper yet simple meaning.

“Fill the can Bishop,” a spirit voice seemed to say. In the words of a retired Episcopal Colleague; “Give until it hurts.” A graphic of our giving to Imagine No Malaria appears beside my article.

WHEN we achieve the final $389,791.85, I’ll dance a jig in my office (off camera, of course) and raise a shout to God’s glory at the 2014 Annual Conference for a job Well Done.

Imagining with you,

Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton