Imagine No Malaria!
Grace, peace and joy from our Lord Jesus Christ.
I am back! After 40 days of renewal leave, I came back to my office on Sept. 2. I am deeply grateful for this time of rest and reflection. During my leave, Kiok and I took three trips for my continuing education or for rest. I also reviewed the first half of my ministry and reflected upon the second half. I reaffirmed that I could not do my ministry without God’s help and that I would more humbly seek and rely upon God’s wisdom and guidance. I thank my office staff for covering everything during my absence.
Since I returned to my office, I have been hearing many wonderful stories about Imagine No Malaria. One pastor challenged her congregation by saying that she would stay on the roof of the church one hour for every $100 raised. One hundred dollars translates into 10 lives saved from malaria. Her congregation and the two congregations served by her husband, responded to this challenge by raising enough money to save more than 380 lives. One small congregation in the far western part of our conference raised an amount that will save more than 400 lives. So far, we have raised about $120,000 which will touch 12,000 lives.
What a great beginning it is! When I proposed this initiative, I had some wishes and hopes. I wanted this initiative to be a part of our spiritual disciplines. In our tradition, spiritual discipline has two dimensions: acts of piety and acts of mercy. For the past two years, I emphasized acts of piety. Through this initiative, I wanted us to have a balanced spiritual discipline. Imagine No Malaria is more than a fundraising campaign. It is a part of our spiritual disciplines. I strongly encourage you to take part in this initiative in prayer.
Another of my hopes was that Imagine No Malaria would be a joyful movement rather than a burdensome plan. I am praying that participants will experience the joy of giving and learn what our Lord meant when he said, “It is more blessed than to receive.” What a great joy it is for us to take part in saving human lives, especially children and expectant mothers! What a great privilege it is that our prayers and participation can make differences in the lives of people on other side of the earth! I pray that all participants in this initiative will experience a joy surpassing human understanding.
When we launched this intiative, I invited every church and every church member to participate. I also encouraged our children, youth and young adults to lead these efforts. I believe that this initiative will provide a great opportunity for our next generation to learn an experience the importance of mission. And if our younger generations get excited, then the church will be energized, and this initiative will have a great and positive impact on the life of the church.
These reasons have made me very happy to introduce Imagine No Malaria. These reasons moved me to do a “happy dance.” Once again, I invite every church and every church member to join this initiative of saving lives from malaria.
The Virginia Conference has a very proud tradition of strong mission support. I hope this tradition will continue during this conference year. I will be deeply grateful if you will visit the conference website (www.vaumc.org) and share your stories with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
Later this month, I will take another group of clergy to Korea. This will be the third time for me to lead this pilgrimage. Participants are excited about this trip. During our stay in Korea (Oct. 15- 23), we will visit various churches and universities and learn the importance of mission. We will participate in early-morning prayer services that will begin at 5 a.m. every day, and we will experience the importance of prayer in our mission and ministries. We will also have a chance to learn about the history and culture of Korea. This will be a heavy schedule and a very long flight. Your prayer for safe travels will be deeply appreciated.
It is already October, and our churches are preparing for their charge conferences. I pray that these annual gathering will be a blessing to all of you and to the churches.
May the Lord continue to guide us and give us peace.
In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho