How Attending a Baseball Game Can Save Children's Lives

May 24, 2012

By Cate Monaghan
Communications Director

We take so many things for granted in this country, and the freedom to sit outside without fear on a summer's evening – at a baseball game, for instance – is one of them. It never crosses our minds to wonder if the annoying insect trying to dive-bomb our bare limbs is carrying a deadly disease, because we know better. In this country, malaria was eliminated years ago.
That is not the case in Africa. In Africa, a child dies of malaria every 60 seconds, and believe it or not, that's the good news. Just a short time ago, it was every 30 seconds.
"Sad," you think. "Truly unfortunate. But them's the breaks. There's nothing I can do about it."
Okay, I know you don't really think that. You're a United Methodist, and you signed on so that you could help change the world, right? Still, you may not realize how great an impact the simple act of attending a baseball game can have.
On June 21, with your help, we're going to invade Raley Field, home of the Sacramento River Cats, like a swarm of … well, you know. We're going to commandeer the jumbo screens and tell 10,000 people about Imagine No Malaria, and how The United Methodist Church wants to make it possible for children in Africa to sit outside on a summer's evening without fear of death, and why the Church actually believes it's an attainable goal. And we're going to display the text-to-donate number, and invite everyone – United Methodist or not – to put their money where their heart is, and help us kick malaria's backside.
But here's the best part. Just by buying a regularly priced ticket to the game, you'll be making a monetary contribution to Imagine No Malaria. And by getting a whole bunch of people at your church to buy tickets to the game, you'll be making a whole bunch of contributions to Imagine No Malaria! Your money will go to the next phase of the fight to eradicate this killer disease, the phase that involves setting up clinics and buying vaccines and educating people about how to protect themselves. Imagine No Malaria is ratcheting everything up a notch (or several) beyond the elementary stage of providing bed nets (that's why donation checks should have "Imagine No Malaria" in the memo line, rather than "Nothing But Nets": It allows flexibility so that the money can be spent where it's needed most in the fight against malaria in Africa, rather than restricting it to the purchase of nets).  
Okay, so maybe you're thinking, "It's a great cause, but I'm not much of a baseball fan – and besides, I really don't want to drive all the way to Sacramento on a Thursday. I'll just write a check."
It isn't just your money that's important – it's also your witness to the community at large. The more United Methodists who attend the game, the greater the probability that a person who doesn't attend church might have a positive experience with a United Methodist. It could be the first step on the path to discipleship for someone!
So please do show up – and be sure to wear a UMC T-shirt of some kind, so that people around you can tell you're proud to be a United Methodist and a part of this great cause. With your help, everywhere they look, River Cats fans will see someone wearing a United Methodist T-shirt, and maybe will think, "Hmmm. These Methodist people are pretty cool. If I ever decide to check out a church, maybe I'll give one of theirs a try."
How awesome would that be!
So what do you think, Friends? Can we fill the stadium with United Methodists?
Buying tickets is easy. Click here and enter the code "umc" (not case-sensitive) to purchase up to 20 tickets per log-in. Contact Ashley Hansen at 916.376.4837 or to purchase a block of more than 20 tickets.
It's a small thing to us – just a ballgame on a summer's evening. But to a child in Africa, it could be the only game in town.
Buy a ticket; save a life.
I'll see you at the ballpark on June 21!
Conference Director of Mission Collaboration Linda Caldwell contributed to this story.