Click here to listen to Dr. McClanahan interview Rev. Gary Henderson and Myca Alford
The Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church has exciting new resources available to ramp up giving and engagement in an effort to reach the $75,000,000 goal for the Imagine No Malaria Global Health Initiative.
The initiative has been ahead of schedule for well over a year and to date is just shy of $64,000,000. Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director of the Global Health Initiative of the United Methodist Church said Annual Conferences have seen people continue to give beyond their Conferences goals and they are looking to continue that trend for the remaining 18 months. So far 42 Annual Conferences have been engaged in the initiative and 31 of those are still currently active. But he has learned from the fundraising world that the last $10,000,000 of a campaign is usually the hardest $10,000,000 to reach. He is hoping that it’s going to be much easier with Imagine No Malaria to reach this goal than it would be for a typical campaign because this one has been atypical. This campaign did not start with an emphasis on major gifts but was started grassroots from zero dollars and it has raised almost $65,000,000 since 2010. Because of this, people have been more excited and willing to donate. With major gift activity still growing, he is hopeful that people will continue to be excited about their efforts.
The United Methodist Church is hopeful about the programmatic expression of Imagine No Malaria too. There is a strong United Methodist presence in Africa and they have seen the death rate from Malaria cut in half in the last three years. The presence of Ebola has made the Malaria work more complicated but there is good news. The rebuilding and resources available in the hospitals, clinics and labs to fight Malaria has given the people working on the front lines the training and equipment needed to fight Ebola.
New Resources Available Online
Several new seasonal Imagine No Malaria worship resources and sermons starters are available online at www.umc.org. These are available to inspire congregations to continue giving to those suffering from malaria throughout the remaining of the initiative and include engagement kits, products and resources for Advent, Christmas Eve, Lent, Mother’s Day and World Malaria Day.
One of the new items is an Honor Card. These allow donors to make a donation in honor of someone they love or would like to give a gift to. There is also a child-friendly small red donation box that can be used by churches to gather donations. Another item that was very popular at the launch of the campaign that is available again is a mosquito temporary tattoo.
Significant Progress Eliminating Malaria
Rev. Henderson explained the difference between eradication and elimination of Malaria by saying, “While it (Malaria) has been eliminated in America, it has not been eradicated in the world.” As a disease it is not likely that Malaria will be eradicated but what can be done is the elimination of the death and suffering from Malaria.
Rev. Henderson says the Imagine No Malaria initiative has made significant progress in the elimination of Malaria in Africa. In 2010 the statistics were that every 30 seconds a child was dying of Malaria but for over a year now that statistic has changed to every 60 seconds a life is lost. This is a quantum leap in progress but there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done.
The United Methodist Church is an integral part of the fight against Malaria and Ebola because of those people “on the ground” already in Africa and on the front lines. These people are living with the disease and, as resources are made available, they are the trusted community and distribution channels in places where unrest is still present.
Bigger Goal is Lives Being Saved
Rev. Henderson said people will often stop him and talk about the amount of money that has been raised and they resonate about the fact the money raised is actually saving lives. He said, “I remember talking to a person in Africa that marveled at the fact that people so far away could care so much about a disease that they don’t even live with. The lives being saved in Africa are the biggest piece of this but the other piece is lives that are being saved in another way.” He has seen lives in North America being saved too! People who were on the fringes of church and faith have return to see their church as a place of relevance, activity and involvement. He has heard people say that they have never been so proud of their church. The spillover effect of giving and saving lives has been even more than he imagined.
Rev. Henderson concluded saying he is proud of the Iowa Annual Conference for exceeding their goal for Imagine No Malaria and that he uses their success as an example and inspiration for others when speaking about the initiative.
*This story was written by Liz Winders from an interview Dr. Arthur McClanahan conducted with Rev. Gary Henderson and Myca Alford on October 24, 2014