Imagine No Malaria - Running for a Cause

Can you imagine running to help save lives through “Imagine No Malaria”? You know, moving the legs, pounding the pavement, covering a few miles.

If you don’t run, perhaps you know someone who does. If you are a runner, you know the physical conditioning, the social aspects of large running events, and of course the competitive sense of accomplishment in finishing a race. Maybe you’ve also participated in running for a cause, paying an entry fee or even raising funds to benefit a charitable organization and their cause. Maybe even one associated with the church.

Have you considered running for the cause of “Imagine No Malaria” – or helping someone who does?

In June at Annual Conference, I mentioned that I ran a marathon last year and raised money for the cause. I also mentioned that I’d be doing it again – on Labor Day in Columbia. Wearing my green shirt with “Imagine No Malaria” on the front and wearing a green wrist band. And I’m glad to report that I made it – ran with perseverance, finished the course, and raised a few more dollars. Hopefully the event also raised a little more awareness about the impact of Malaria and how WE – the United Methodist Church in Missouri – plan to help save nearly 150,000 lives through raising funds at various events this year.

Running for a cause involves preparing – training – to go the distance. Training for a challenging event like a marathon, or even a 5-K or 10-K, has its ups and downs. I enjoy the ups of good training days, but sometimes it’s the downs that can provide perspective on life. In this case, one “down” in my training helped me identify a bit with those who battle the effects of disease – though I know that malaria is much worse than what I went through.

You see, a few weeks before the race I developed some kind of rash that spread across my neck and chest. I still have no idea where it came from. It seemed like a very bad case of poison ivy, but when I finally listened to Kim and went to the doctor, he said it was something different and would take a couple of weeks with treatment before it would get better. So for the next 2-3 weeks I continued to fight itching and sleeplessness, taking the medication and wondering when it would finally end.

During that time I remembered that the cause I’m running for – malaria – is much worse. So this was simply a “thorn in the side” like Paul described, to remind me that I’ve got to trust in God and not myself. In my case, the “thorn” finally did go away (thankfully). But with malaria, while it sometimes can go away over time with treatment, often for those in Africa it’s a death sentence. The good news is that we do have a chance to do something about that.

So I’m excited to have completed a couple of marathons for the cause – certainly blessed with the physical ability to still do that, and gaining some spiritual insight as well. And I’m thankful for all the people who participated through encouragement and contributions to the cause.

What about you? If you’re not a runner, I hope you’ll find some way in the next few months to be part of the effort to wipe out malaria. I know that most every congregation will be offering at least one opportunity to “Imagine No Malaria”.

And if you are a runner, perhaps you could include a race and pay an entry fee. Or run and raise funds. Or even organize a race event to contribute to the cause. Imagine that!

I hope that all of us Missouri Methodists can find a way to combine our talents / gifts / passions in unique ways that raise awareness and funds for the cause.

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