By Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor
Imagination is a wonderful part of who we are as human beings.
The imagination of our children and grandchildren is something we both cherish and cultivate. Nothing warms my heart more than my 2-year-old granddaughter pouring me an imaginary cup of tea to accompany the imaginary piece of chocolate cake she has served me.
Our United Methodist Church is involved in a ministry of healing that began with imagining a world with no malaria. For the past four years, our church has partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations, the Red Cross, the World Health Organization and others to eliminate malaria from the continent of Africa.
Imagine this: every 45 seconds a child dies of malaria in Africa. Ninety percent of those who die from malaria are younger than 5 years of age. The sad reality is that this does not have to happen. Malaria is totally preventable and treatable. Fifty years ago, malaria was eliminated in the United States, but the continent of Africa was left behind. Now is the time for us to do something as South Carolina United Methodists.
As a part of the denominational effort to raise $75 million by 2015, the offerings for the 2012 South Carolina Annual Conference will go to Imagine No Malaria. Imagine the lives we could save if every UMC in South Carolina received a special offering to stop malaria. If each of the 1,000 churches brought an offering of $100, we could raise $100,000. That amount would save 10,000 lives. Many of our churches could give much more than that.
Imagine how you would feel knowing you had made the difference and made it possible for a little child to have a life. It is my prayer that you will make this a priority for your local church. Receive a special offering for Imagine No Malaria. Be generous and give as great an offering as you are able. The delegates to annual conference will present these offerings as we gather in Florence, June 10-13.
I pray that we all will imagine a day when malaria is not the death sentence that it is now. I imagine a day when we can focus our efforts on other preventable and treatable diseases. Now is the time for us to act, for us to give, and for us to make a difference in this war on malaria. It is a winnable war.
I want to be a part of this effort, and I believe that you do, as well. It will honor God and save lives.