At the 2011 Annual Conference Session there may have been a buzz about the elections and the finance report and even holding an ordination service in the dark, but the “buzz” created Monday afternoon was all about fighting the deadly disease known as malaria.
South Georgia United Methodists joined hands and hearts to give more than $75,000 in a single special offering for Imagine No Malaria. Churches were asked to take up a special offering prior to Annual Conference and bring the money with them to Tifton. Churches came bearing checks, and hundreds of conference attendees donated while at the Annual Conference session.
Imagine No Malaria is a ministry of the people of The United Methodist Church to eliminate death and suffering from malaria in Africa by 2015. With a goal of raising $75 million to improve health infrastructure and empower a sustainable victory over the disease, Imagine No Malaria is the United Methodist Church’s opportunity to rethink how it reaches beyond the church, opening doors to those who need it most.
“Mr. Malaria” himself, given that title by the children he spends time with in Sierra Leone, Bishop Thomas Bickerton shared with the South Georgia Annual Conference the huge impact that Imagine No Malaria is having on the African people.
The United Methodist Church has raised more than $18 million for the Imagine No Malaria campaign. That action contributed to the total distribution of 300 million insecticide-treated nets and a 50 percent reduction in the number of malaria deaths in 11 nations.
“Since The United Methodist Church has become involved, awareness of the Nothing But Nets campaign has gone from 22 percent to 55 percent,” the bishop said.
Bickerton, who oversees the Pittsburgh Area, is chair of the denomination’s Global Health Initiative.
Bishop Bickerton shared some of his experiences with Imagine No Malaria.
When he preached at a Sierra Leone church, 75 of the 700 worshippers brought along empty mosquito bed-net bags from a distribution that took place the day before.
“You cared about my body, I can trust you with my soul,” said one of the worshippers who greeted him after the service.
“We are doing all this as a part of a holistic caring for mind, body and spirit,” Bishop Bickerton said. “We are on a journey to make disciples of Jesus Christ and make sure that every family in Africa has insecticide-treated nets in their homes.
“The job is not done. We've got more bed nets to hang; more disciples to be made,” he said.
Bishop King shared his appreciation for the generosity of South Georgia United Methodists.
“Together, South Georgia, we will do our part as disciples of Jesus Christ in helping to save the lives of many,” he said. “Thank you for making a difference and for opening your hearts and giving to be part of saving lives.
“This is just one more way we are partnering together to grow a more Christlike world.”
Gifts to Imagine No Malaria can be sent anytime to the Office of Administrative Services; PO Box 52101; Macon, GA 31208 with the Imagine No Malaria Advance Special #5840. For more information, visit www.ImagineNoMalaria.org.
*Additional content provided by the United Methodist News Service