I think as humans, we have a natural desire for our lives to count for something. We want to make an impact. We hope that, in the end, what we choose to do with our time and resources is worth it.
But how do we accomplish this? One of the things I’ve learned on my journey is the significance of little things. There’s an old English proverb that says:
For want of a nail the horseshoe was lost.
For want of a horseshoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe.
Obviously, no one would look at one horse without a horseshoe and think, The kingdom will be lost because this horse is not properly shod. It is often only in hindsight that we realize how all the small events and choices of the past affect the present, how they affect others.
In honor of World Malaria Day on April 25, Gospel for Asia (GFA) released an in-depth Special Report entitled Fighting Malaria: The Chilling Disease on the current state of malaria prevention around the world and the efforts being made to eradicate it. According to the report, although many developed nations are now free from this life-threatening disease, it still claims the lives of 400,000 people each year.
Malaria tends to especially hurt vulnerable groups of people who lack immunity, including pregnant mothers and young children. It’s caused, the report explains, by “parasites transmitted to people through bites of infected female mosquitoes.” These microscopic parasites carried by little insects can cause huge problems, many times resulting in death.
Despite many years of research and development, the fight to end malaria continues. GFA’s report shares how a National Institute of Health researcher once commented, “In its ability to adapt and survive, the malaria parasite is a genius. It’s smarter than we are.” There is much yet to be done to bring an end to malaria. There is a great need for more research, the development of new treatments and increased access to preventative measures for those in malaria-prone regions.
But what is encouraging to me in the midst of all of this is that you don’t have to be a research scientist or an infectious disease specialist in order to make a difference in the fight against malaria. You don’t have to have a massive amount of resources to help an individual or family protect themselves from mosquitoes carrying malaria parasites. One of the simplest, most practical ways to help save lives from malaria is through simple, inexpensive mosquito nets.
Let me share with you about a man named Madin, one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have received mosquito nets through Gospel for Asia-supported distributions. Madin and his family had been sick with malaria multiple times and had even come close to death. Madin lived in extreme poverty and wasn’t able to afford treatment or prevention methods to protect his family from the malaria disease.
Noticing the prevalence of malaria in the region where Madin lived, a Gospel for Asia-supported pastor named Ojayit went around asking people if they had ever been affected by malaria and whether they needed a mosquito net. Soon, through a gift distribution, Madin and other vulnerable families in his area received the mosquito nets they so desperately needed. No longer did his family have to worry about whether they were going to lose their lives due to malaria. Not only that, through this experience, Madin and his family realized God’s compassion for them and began to feel a new peace and joy in their lives.
The mosquito net Madin’s family received was such a simple gift, but what a difference it made! And it was all because someone, somewhere in the world, decided to give the $10 or so needed for the net. The small things we do really do matter.
It’s when we make choices like this to become a blessing to others that we truly find fulfillment in life. In sharing what we have, no matter how small, we find our lives counting for something. If we are sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, willing to follow in big things and little things, we will be able to touch others’ lives in ways we may never realize. On the other hand, if we keep our blessings to ourselves, we will become like the Dead Sea, where nothing can live because it gives nothing out.
Some years ago, I wrote this prayer for myself:
Father, I long to be a blessing to all those around me,
and Your creation that You made.
Make me more sensitive so
I’m able to see things as You see them
and respond with a godly attitude.
I want to be a part of the answer,
not a problem.
Make my heart tender and sensitive,
that I may become more like Your Son.
This is my prayer for me and for you. My hope is that in the midst of our own lives, problems, difficulties and anxieties, we would make room in our hearts for others and be willing to make daily choices to demonstrate the love of Christ to others.
And this week, in light of World Malaria Day and the great needs of those around the world, I encourage you to do something to help protect an individual or family from this life-threatening disease. Together, we can save lives, even through something as simple as a mosquito net.
Read Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: “Fighting Malaria – a Chilling Disease.”