By Crystal Caviness and Barbara Dunlap-Berg-
“Our God is able!” Celebrating the success of the Imagine No Malaria initiative, launched in 2008, speakers, singers, and dancers offered even more for United Methodists attending General Conference 2016 to imagine – Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children.
“Health is the ultimate design of God for humanity,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, Imagine No Malaria chair. “Health and wholeness have been a hope for Methodists since John Wesley got on a horse in 18th-century England to preach about the love of God and the meaning of faith in Jesus Christ.”
Noting that worldwide 6 million children die every year from preventable diseases, the report introduced the next step – an effort to reach a million children with lifesaving and health-promoting measures by the next time General Conference convenes in 2020. Building on the success of Imagine No Malaria, the Abundant Health program seeks to engage at least 10,000 U.S. churches in programs that encourage promoting physical activities, healthy diet and nutrition, education for tobacco- and drug-free living, and mental health education.
To date, the people of The United Methodist Church have raised more than $68 million to end malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, where one child dies from malaria every two minutes. The Imagine No Malaria campaign aims to raise $75 million to address the impact of malaria in Africa through prevention, treatment, communication and education.
Speakers, on video, shared their stories. “My daughter and my wife died from malaria,” said Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda of Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I lost my father to malaria,” added Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala of Mozambique.
Waving colorful streamers, brightly clad dancers wove through the plenary hall aisles as Jeremy Rosado led an energized congregation to “take a stand and … show the world what we believe in.”
Crystal Caviness is a public relations specialist and Barbara Dunlap-Berg is a general church content editor at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tennessee.