On April 15 many of us were worried about getting our income taxes mailed before the midnight deadline. Hundreds of thousands of others were worried because they could not get home that day.
If you were anywhere in the world and wanted to go to Europe, you were told, "Sorry. You can't." This problem was caused by the eruption the previous day of a volcano in Iceland that spewed a plume of volcanic ash 20,000-30,000 feet into the air. Fearing that microscopic particles of highly abrasive ash could endanger passengers by causing aircraft engines to fail, authorities shut down air space over most of Europe.
In the next week over 100,000 flights were cancelled and over seven million passengers were affected. The disruptions hit tourists, business travelers and dignitaries alike. The International Air Transport Association says the volcano cost the industry at least $200 million a day.
The economic impact was felt across broad segments of industry from highly perishable products to suppliers of jet fuel to airline support personnel. It is not yet possible to put a dollar figure on losses caused by the disruption.
Added to the financial impact of this natural disaster is the enormous emotional toll of the hundreds of thousands of people stranded in airports unable to get hotel rooms or flights home from vacations or business trips.
This incident is another reminder of how small the world has become. Because of the mobility that modern transportation has enabled, we have seen diseases spread across the globe in ways that would not have been possible only decades ago. Failed banks, terrorists, and bankrupt auto makers are among the many examples of how people all over the world are connected. What happens anywhere can affect conditions everywhere.
If negative effects can be felt world-wide, isn't it also possible that positive results can be wide-spread as well?
April 25 was World Malaria Day. Many people and organizations are joining forces to eradicate malaria, a preventable and treatable disease, which half of the world's population is at risk of getting. It kills around 1 million people every year with most of these deaths occurring in Africa. Every 30 seconds an innocent child dies in Africa of malaria. Imagine No Malaria is a ministry of the people of The United Methodist Church to eliminate death and suffering from malaria in Africa by 2015. Just as the cross is a sign to us of God's love, we are called to be a sign of God's love and commitment to the world. What you do here can make a difference there.
A Rethink Church television ad during a basketball game or a radio spot during the rush hour traffic report can cause a person who does not often think about God or faith to decide to attend one of our United Methodist churches. A smile and a kind word to a stranger can change the course of that person's day. A random act of kindness is likely to be replicated and start a chain reaction of good deeds. A personal testimony to the faithfulness of God has the potential of causing others to trust God for their circumstances.
The words and deeds of everyday and ordinary people have power. They build up or they tear down. Let us be intentional in our living, aware that our influence is felt far more widely than we might imagine. What would happen if there was an eruption of love, grace, and forgiveness from Christians? Jesus said it this way: "Let your light so shine that everyone might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven."
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," April 26, 2010, North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]