Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Imagine No Malaria

I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard a snippet from a story that they were doing about polio and how it is nearly eradicated. Now, don’t forget “nearly eradicated” fits pretty well along the lines that “close is only good in horseshoes and hand-grenades.” Nearly eradicated means that the world is not done yet with the disease and until every case is gone, the disease still rages. I’m thankful that polio will “soon” be eradicated, but I soberly realize that there are many other preventable diseases that are also on our list. Take malaria for example.

The website for Imagine No Malaria puts it this way

This is a Fight We Must Win, Because…

…every 45 seconds, a child in Africa dies of malaria.

…malaria claims more than 1 million lives each year.

…infants, children and pregnant women are at greatest risk.

…90 percent of malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

And…did I mention that Malaria can be eradicated and thus, is preventable? I am so proud that the United Methodist Church has joined with other organizations and people who are working to eliminate malaria by 2015. Something that has caught my eye is the Imagine No Malaria initiative and the House Party idea. They suggest having a get-together that is aimed at educating people in our circle of friends about malaria and giving them an opportunity to donate toward the cause of education, prevention and treatment of malaria. This is a great opportunity for Campus Ministries or Sunday School classes to be involved with! There are lots of ideas, resources, and other help on the www.imaginenomalaria.org/houseparty website. I’m going to talk to some students soon and see how we can participate. I hope that you’ll join me.

When Normal is Exhilirating

I wrote this yesterday about my day. I've been thinking a lot about recognizing God's presence in the midst of life, rather than seeing God's presence after the fact. Yesterday was a good day.

There are many days in ministry that are difficult: institutions are cumbersome, resistance is inevitable, and people are messy. And there are days when ministry is exhilarating: systems work well, creativity is abundant and people use their gifts to God’s glory. Today has been one of the later. It is exciting to watch the college students with whom I’ve been blessed to work discover and live out their faith. Here is a snippet from my day:

  • I woke up feeling rather cranky. In fact, I said out loud (to myself) before I left my house: “Ashlee, why are you so grumpy? Get over whatever your problem is.” (I hope that others have similar habits of talking to themselves. I don’t usually say things out loud to myself, but I was in a foul mood this morning for absolutely no good reason.)
  • I got an email first thing this morning from a student who was so excited to tell me some things that God had been doing in her life that she wanted to meet with me. I sought her out this morning soon after I got in my office. She shared with me some experiences that she and some other students had over the weekend in worship and prayer together. She spoke about some things that I've prayed about over the last several years for my campus and I began to see in her testimony of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer. She’s facilitating a prayer forum online for our campus and I’m excited to see where it goes.
  • I actually got some work done in my office! Go figure!
  • I went to our monthly “Family Meeting” for Discipleship and continue to be blown away by the gifts that my students have. I felt absolutely irrelevant and it was wonderful! Oh sure, I've spent the time with them and they all know what their jobs are. God has matured them in ways that they are powerful leaders and it was incredibly freeing to see the maturity that was exhibited in this group of 13 leaders to the team of 40 others. A visiting religious studies fellow who is in his second year even commented on the maturity that he had witnessed in one of the students in the year and a half that he has been here.

And that was all before noon! The rest of the day, I went to meetings, met with students, and answered emails and my work seemed more connected to God’s mission in the world than usual. It’s easy, especially this time of year, for us to get focused on challenges, problems, and messes that we have to clean up. But let’s not forget that when our work is focused on the Kingdom of God, even our challenges have a new meaning. Today was a day when the veil was thin...when I saw the Kingdom of God in front of my very eyes. The reason it was so notable for me was because while I'm good at seeing God's presence in the "big" days/moments/experiences, it's much harder in the "normal" days. (I wrote about this at the beginning of January.) Thankfully, I think that today was one of those "best days" that I was hoping for more of! Our lives as Christians include many "big" days, but mostly they're just "normal" days when we learn to tune our hearts and minds to God's voice. I can't believe it, but today I'm thankful for "normal."