As I write this, I can hardly contain my joy! Recent reports from the World Health Organization show that more people are surviving malaria in Africa than ever before. Praise God! With His blessing and your help, we are making a difference!
When The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) initially took steps to help form the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) in 2007, nearly 1 million people were dying from malaria every year in Africa. The disease was killing a child EVERY 30 seconds. But, mercifully, that statistic today has been reduced by more than half. The child malaria mortality rate in Africa now is one in every 66.5 seconds.
We celebrate this progress, but there’s still much to be done. With your help, the malaria mortality rate can be reduced even more.
Malaria is both preventable and treatable. The preventable deaths of millions of people in Africa cry out for a compassionate response. Our work through LMI is that response — an expression of Christian service to our neighbor, which finds its source, motivation and example in Christ’s incarnate, redeeming, atoning, active love (Phil. 2:1-11).
While your Synod helped form LMI in 2007, it began actively fundraising for malaria work in Africa since 2010 — when LCMS convention delegates in Houston unanimously voted to adopt and embrace the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. Since then, education, prevention and treatment programs have been implemented in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Mali and Liberia. We also want to implement malaria work eventually in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Guinea, Niger and Ghana. These are places where the need is great and LMI has partners — church partners and others in country — with whom we can work to put education and medical programs in place.
You are an equal and important partner in this effort.
World Malaria Day is April 25. It’s a day to focus global awareness on the ravages of the disease — which disproportionately affects children under 5 and pregnant women, and especially those who live in poverty and don’t have access to healthcare — and to encourage people around the world to join in the fight against malaria.
April also marks the close of active LMI fundraising.
At its most recent convention (July 2013), Synod delegates again voted collectively for LMI — and this time the unanimous vote called for the church to close out the LMI campaign with a strong finish.
We have made major strides in the fight against malaria, but we can help many more. With increased efforts — and this final fundraising push — millions of lives will be protected and health will improve substantially in malaria-affected countries.
When speaking recently about LMI and why our church body is partnering in the fight against malaria, LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison said, “A relationship with God the Father without a relationship with others in fellowship is impossible. A denial of love to a brother or sister is a denial of fellowship in the Lord.” Christ’s call for unconditional mercy informs our Lutheran response to helping those in need. Our work is making a difference in the fight against malaria in Africa, but tens of thousands of lives are still being lost each year to this preventable disease.
Will you help us finish strong? Will you give a special gift today to help our brothers and sisters suffering from malaria half the world away? Will you stand with us to restore health and inspire hope to those fighting to stop malaria deaths in Africa? I pray you will.
In His service,
LCMS Director for Lutheran Malaria Initiative