The California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church hopes to raise $2 million in order to save 200,000 lives through Imagine No Malaria, an initiative of The United Methodist Church to end preventable deaths from malaria in Africa by 2015. A generous gift from one church member this week put them well over halfway to that goal.
“I think it’s important that we all give back in some small way to make this world a better place for folks to live,” said Barbara Ferguson, a laywoman from Los Altos United Methodist Church who is donating $1.1 million towards the California-Nevada Conference’s efforts in the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign. “My heart was tugging and I believed that I needed to do it (give to Imagine No Malaria),” said Ferguson
Ferguson decided to make the gift after hearing a presentation by Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. of the San Francisco Episcopal Area, upon his return from a trip to Angola.
“Barbara is a marvelous example of living into our calling to be disciples of Jesus. She faithfully looks for ways she can make a difference in people’s lives,” said Bishop Brown. “I am extremely encouraged by the creative ways in which people in the conference are getting involved in the initiative. Even prior to Barbara’s commitment, we have saved more than 8,500 lives on the continent of Africa.”
Ferguson is a member of Los Altos United Methodist Church since 1985 and one of the leaders for the church’s Stephen Ministry who has worked as a volunteer in the finance office for 17 years. Her late husband, Earl Ferguson, had a successful career in the computer science industry and helped to develop two companies that were awarded four patents. Eventually, one of the companies, Foundry Networks, went public. Following Earl’s unexpected death in 2003, Ferguson and her family have continued to resource efforts to make the world a better place.
Just a few short years ago, statistics showed a child died every 30 seconds of malaria. Today, malaria’s impact has been cut in half. According to the World Health Organization (World Malaria Report 2011), the disease now claims a life every 60 seconds.
Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, who leads the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference and the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria efforts, said, “I am overjoyed by the receipt of this gift … I pray that it will be multiplied over and over. This gift represents the next wave of giving; the large gift connected to the grassroots giving strength of Imagine No Malaria is a winning formula.”