I think in some ways, I’m still in shock. Or exhausted. or both.
At 2:45 on Monday afternoon, we announced that we had raised $2,009,907 for Imagine No Malaria as the Iowa Annual Conference.
I had spent my lunch break sitting on the floor of the treasurer’s office counting the dollars that districts had raised by passing bags and hats and buckets that morning. And as first one district exceeded a thousand dollars, and then another, and then pledges of a thousand dollars and more came rolling in, I knew we had done it.
I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face as I tried to casually stroll to the Diakanos area (our youth who serve as pages for conference). I needed their help in updating our tally boards so we could reveal the new total to conference.
And even as we were recording that unbelievable number, the Iowa Foundation announced a $6,000 match of the afternoon’s donations. They believed we still needed about $12,000 to go over the top and were willing to get us half way there. And the East Central district announced over $1500 in pledges for our rider in the North Central Jurisdictional Ride for Change. Even before we had made it official, our tally was inadequate. Our success was still growing. The gifts were unbelievable. We couldn’t keep up with the outpouring of dollars and cents and checks and pledges.
I strode up to the microphone… flipped on the yellow light… and imperceptibly shook as I shared the good news.
What that number represents to me is not simply money that was raised by folks in Iowa. It represents all of the lives that will be saved because of the work of United Methodists. It represents the churches that were transformed and started to think beyond their walls in this past year and a half. It represents the youth who were given a voice and ran with a cause they knew was making a difference – whether it was with their feet on the pavement, on the ballfield, or by dyeing their hair. It represents moms and dads in places I have never been like Sierra Leone and Angola and Nigeria who have hope their children will live. It represents the effort of communities who have rallied together to educate one another and hold each other accountable. It is the pennies of children and the pocketbooks of millionaires. It is diversity, and beauty, and joy, and sacrificial, and empowering, and far beyond anything I ever asked or imagined was possible.
I believed we could raise the money.
Don’t get me wrong.
I got involved in this whole wonderful mess in the first place because I knew that if every United Methodist in Iowa gave only $10, we would have raised nearly $1.8 million dollars.
It was weird for people to come up and congratulate me after the big announcement, because this was OUR success and not mine. This was OUR effort and I simply had the honor of being the midwife. The resources were there for this to be a successful campaign. Of that, I had no doubt.
But I never imagined how it would transform the people of Iowa. I have been blown away by the stories of individuals and communities which have been transformed by Imagine No Malaria in Africa. And I never imagined how this whole experience would transform me.
Hopefully I’ll have time in the next few weeks to process some of what I have learned and some of how God has moved in my life.
But for now, I simply say: God is Good.