So much of what we do in ministry is only a small part of a greater whole that we will never see completed in our lifetimes. The Free Store and the Food Pantry work to eliminate poverty but we are light years away from a completely equitable world. Our partner organization ISAAC seeks to reduce the violence in our city but we are reticent to use a more bold word than “reduce.” We are like Moses who could only stand at the edge of the promised-land never given the chance to actually step in. But Malaria can be eliminated in just a few years. Everyone who gives to this campaign can say “I saved a life, and I helped change the world.”
Let me just share a few things from the Michigan Imagine No Malaria Website:
In Africa, a child dies from malaria every 60 seconds, but our church is imagining
a different world by working to end death and suffering from this disease. Through Imagine No Malaria, we are strengthening the infrastructure of malaria treatment and prevention. We are supporting and training community health-care workers who are empowering communities to prevent and treat malaria. We are building communications networks to spread health information.
Already, we see a difference. The death rate from malaria has been cut in half since 2009. Some hospitals and clinics which saw children die every single day can now report zero deaths in their annual report. Churches are being built as our work of healing souls is transforming souls, too. God is doing great things through the United Methodist Church…
I hear this report and I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Ephesians: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Really, I never imagined that something as powerful as Malaria could be so easily eliminated.
This is why I went to the worship band and pitched this idea for the “Behold the Lamb of God” concert and I believe this is why they were all so willing to give it a shot. This is also why I proposed to the church council that we give our Christmas Eve offering to Imagine No Malaria in addition to the money raised at the concert and why they all so readily said “Yes” to this bold offering. What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who “…though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich.” (2Cor.8)
So this year during Advent and on Christmas Eve we are joining with other West Michigan Conference United Methodist Churches to give a gift to the Christ Child that will save millions of lives. Why? Because it is possible. It’s that simple. It’s possible. I can hardly believe it but I know that there will be no greater joy than knowing what we accomplished. And I can’t for the life of me think of a better way to honor the Christ Child on Christmas Eve who came into this world so that we may have life and have it in abundance.