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Commentary: God's hand is all over Nothing But Nets campaign

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Martha Taylor
Dec. 1, 2006

A UMNS Commentary
By Martha Taylor*

Moments of clarity are gifts from God. For some, they come as naturally as breathing. For others, they are few and far between.

My moments stand out in my memory. Years ago, I was in an exercise class when I heard a voice say, "Go home!" I immediately left class and hot-footed it to the house. My son had fallen from a second-story balcony and had a head fracture. He fully recovered, and today I still vividly recall that insistent voice. I was not a practicing Christian then, but I now recognize what I heard came from God.

I have conviction about my position as the conference communications director. Accepting this position was easy, even though it involved leaving a job I loved and a community I called home for 13 years. I knew with certainty that all I had experienced in my personal, professional and church life had led me to this point, time and place. A moment of clarity.

I had that same certainty about God's involvement when I heard about Nothing But Nets and The United Methodist Church's involvement. Nothing But Nets is a partnership between the people of The United Methodist Church, Sports Illustrated, NBA Cares, the National Basketball Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, Measles Initiative, Millennium Promise and other global partners. How did the church get to the table with such notables? God's hand is all over it.

In May 2005, Rick Reilly, the noted Sports Illustrated columnist, wrote about the critical need for insecticide-treated bed nets in Africa to stop the spread of malaria, a killer that causes 3,000 deaths each day. In his column, Reilly urged readers to donate funds for bed nets. In two weeks, he raised $1.2 million.

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A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Columnist Rick Reilly (right) visits Yesirat Gafani and her son, Afusat Gafani, to see a Nothing But Nets-provided mosquito net at their home in Epe, Nigeria.
Simply put, Nothing But Nets is a campaign to eradicate malaria in Africa. This can be accomplished through the distribution and proper use of bed nets. One net can cover a family of four and will be effective for many years. A $10 donation will purchase one net, and 100 percent of that $10 goes toward that purchase. There is no overhead or administrative costs, since a philanthropist donated $1 billion to cover those costs.

Any individual or church can give to Nothing But Nets, but United Methodist youth should be particularly excited about getting involved. Youth groups that raise money for Nothing But Nets will be eligible for prizes at Youth 2007, an international event for United Methodist youth in Greensboro, N.C., July 11-15. Fund-raising awards will include a trip to Africa to distribute bed nets, a trip to New York to tour the United Nations and a variety of NBA gear.

A cell phone text-messaging network provides campaign updates to youth. They can send a text message to 47647, type "Nets" in the text field, and hit "send" to be added to the network.

The Arkansas Conference is partnering with The Buzz 103.7 FM radio station in Little Rock for the "High School Basketball Game of the Week." Beginning in January, we will have commercials airing with a message about the Arkansas United Methodist Church and Nothing But Nets. The talent for the spots is Joe Kleine, former Razorback and NBA star.

During each halftime, a local church youth minister will be interviewed about the positive impact the United Methodist Church is having on youth in local communities. Arkansas young people will also have an opportunity to tell what their youth groups are doing to raise funds for Nothing But Nets.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

Muji Bakare clutches an insecticide-treated mosquito net, provided by the Nothing But Nets campaign, in Apapa, Nigeria.
How can you get involved? Go to www.NothingButNets.net and create a team for your family, friends, basketball or soccer teams and leagues, Sunday school class, youth groups, church, women's and men's groups. Challenge one another. You can track fund raising online. Join or sponsor another team. Think of creative, fun fund-raising events and involve the youth in your community. Make a gift this Christmas in honor or memory of a loved one.

To read Rick Reilly's Sports Illustrated article or learn more about Nothing But Nets, go to www.NothingButNets.net. The Nov. 28 edition of Sports Illustrated also has an update from Reilly, "Nothing But Thanks," describing his recent trip to Nigeria to distribute bed nets. Staff with United Methodist Communications accompanied him on that trip and shot photos and video.

One last note. Years ago, Reilly had the opportunity to go to Tanzania with his family. While there, they played soccer with a group of kids. The ball was a taped-up wad of newspaper, and two rocks were the goal. When he returned to the United States, he sent some soccer balls and nets. Here's what Reilly wrote last May:

"I kick myself now for that. How many of those kids are dead because we sent the wrong nets?" A moment of clarity. Don't let us miss our moment.

*Taylor is director of communications for the United Methodist Church's Arkansas Annual Conference.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 
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