Bishop visits 13 congressional offices

Hoshibata and Winkler

Bishop Robert Hoshibata and Jim Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, walk last week to the Imagine No Malaria Days on the Hill conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (UMNS photo by Jay Mallin).

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Before the day was over on Dec. 4, Bishop Robert Hoshibata and members of the Imagine No Malaria delegation had visited 13 Senate and House offices on Capitol Hill to advocate for continued support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria.

“I represent over 30,000 United Methodists in Arizona,” the bishop told an aide to Jon Kyl, the outgoing Arizona senator. “We have an interest in the budget and are especially concerned with programs dealing with global health.”

We have an interest in the budget and are especially concerned with programs dealing with global health.

Hoshibata emphasized that the number of deaths is decreasing because of the work being done to fight malaria. He said the delegation wants it to continue.

The bishop went on to visit the offices of Sens. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Dean Heller, R, and Harry Reid, D, of Nevada, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Jeff Flake, R, also of Arizona.

Crucial part of work

“A crucial part of our work is to spread the word to those who have the power and authority to contribute to the work of Imagine No Malaria,” Hoshibata explained. “Every source of funding for this critical task is important.”

A crucial part of our work is to spread the word to those who have the power and authority.

The bishop was among more than 100 United Methodists on Capitol Hill last week to share their faith and to state boldly that Jesus calls his followers to care for others, reaching across the globe to offer love.

”Our United States government spends a relatively small amount, less than 1%, on global needs,” Bishop Hoshibata said. “We believe it is crucial that we not reduce the funding at this time so that we can continue to offer the care and the hope to those in danger of contracting and dying from malaria.”

$2 million commitment

Hoshibata was the highest-ranking member of The United Methodist Church making the office visits. The Desert Southwest Conference, which also includes Nevada and a small part of California, has just committed to raising $2 million toward the $75 million goal the denomination has set for fight against malaria.

During the closing sermon, the bishop told the 107 advocates who participated in Imagination No Malaria Days on the Hill: “We’ve been here and we’re inspired by each other. In the midst of a perverse world, we’re supposed to be shining stars.” The bishop told his listeners, “We have done that.”

Editor's note: Sandra Long Weaver is director of communications for Imagine No Malaria. She sat down with bishop Hoshibata and asked him about the denomination’s commitment and his own to Imagine No Malaria, which continues through June 2014.

Following are the questions and brief excerpts of the bishop’s answers. You can find more in-depth answers at Bishop Hoshibata shapes vision for malaria fight.

  • When did you first learn about Imagine No Malaria? What made you decide to become a leader in the campaign?
    The introduction of an even grander vision of completely eliminating deaths from malaria that included treatment, education, communication and advocacy in addition to the distribution of life-saving nets has really captured the attention of secular and religious groups and individuals.
  • Raising $75 million to $100 million is a formidable task for any undertaking. What makes you believe The United Methodist Church can accomplish this goal?
    Once you add the Holy Spirit to an endeavor as noble as Imagine No Malaria, you begin to realize that you are not talking about dollars and cents, but rather, about saving human lives.
  • How will the Desert Southwest Conference accomplish its goal of $2 million?
    I would like to believe that our congregations will want to be in ministry through this movement in our church in partnership with sisters and brothers around the globe.
  • Why is it important that this $2 million goal be reached?
    Our goal has been characterized not as an effort to raise money, but rather to save lives. We are measuring the success of our efforts in terms of the number of deaths from malaria that we can prevent.
  • What impact have you seen on young people because of the campaign?
    The vision of a world free of deaths caused by malaria captures their collective imagination and inspires them.
  • How do you think your annual conference will be affected while working toward this goal?
    Generosity begets generosity. I fully expect that as we work toward the goal of saving 200,000 lives, we will find that our hearts are also going to be opened to the needs of the communities in which we live and serve.

More information about the United Methodist commitment is available at Imagine No Malaria.

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