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Dear Friends in Christ, we are not too late—that is, we, Saint John’s Lutheran, are not too late to participate in the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. We are late in saving the child who dies every sixty seconds from the curable disease malaria.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) is partnering with Lutheran World Relief (LWR), the United Nations Foundation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to raise $45 million in 2012, with LCMS committed to $14.2 million of that total. The global goal is to eradicate Malaria deaths by 2015 by investing in education, bed nets and antimalarial medicines that prevent and treat Malaria. Malaria is a pandemic disease transferred from one infected person to another by mosquitoes. Children under five and pregnant women are most vulnerable.

If we could defeat Malaria deaths in 1952 in the United States, why haven’t we acted to save all of God’s children? The day I finished reading the book “The Hole in the Gospel,” which is a resource for one of our Sunday morning Bible Studies, I received a special mailing from Lutheran World Relief focused on Malaria. First let me say, if you have a chance to read the book—do! Second, it was not a coincidence that I finished reading the book on the same day I received the LWR literature, but God pulling on my heart.

So why do I feel He is pulling on my heart? I know what a life-threatening disease is like, because I’ve lived it. At the age of three in 1952, three years before a vaccine was available, I contracted polio and was hospitalized for months.

Polio was very disruptive to individuals, families and caregivers. Because infected individuals were frequently isolated, I understand why I continue my struggles in understanding what love means and living with a physical disability. My family was split up. While my father remained in Holyoke, Colorado, to work, my mother was in Denver with me during my Children’s Hospital stays. My mother expressed in her letters to my father, “I find it hard to leave Marilyn in the hospital crying out ‘Don’t leave, Mommy.’” Adding to further isolation, there were the caregivers who had a 10% risk of contracting polio from their patients.

Because the Malaria incubation period and symptoms are similar to polio, this cause has become all-too-real for me. Please help me respond to the cries of these children; let them feel the love of God in their lives, knowing people care, that there is hope.

How can you help? Just $1 can treat an infected child. $10 can give a family a bed net. $100 can train a health care giver and $1,000 can purchase much-needed medical equipment. Besides your treasure, include LMI, the children and their parents in Africa in your prayers.

Your generous gift is needed now to respond to this cry. April 25 is World Malaria Day; your financial gift through a special April offering can make a difference. Use your mission offering envelope (clearly write “Malaria” on the outside of the envelope) or write a check payable to Saint John’s Lutheran with “Malaria” in the memo line.

Please join me in my prayer: “Dear Father, I hear your children crying and dying—help me to respond to this call. Amen.”

Saint John’s Board of Human Needs finds opportunities for the members of Saint John’s to provide a Christian witness by helping people in the community struggling with daily necessities.