Almost 5,000 people groups - 1.6 billion people - still live with little or no access to the Gospel.
USA (MNN) ― In spite of the challenging economy, Southern Baptists gave over $150 million dollars to the 2007 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Over $3 billion has now been given to the offering since it was first promoted by the Women's Missionary Union in 1888.
Although this year's offering surpassed the record set in 2006 by $231,00, it failed to meet the denomination's goal of $165 million. International Mission Board needs the money to support new missionaries, especially as the falling value of the U.S. dollar drives up their living expenses.
"Although we're disappointed by the failure to meet the goal of $165 million, we think it is significant in the context of financial challenges in today's economy that we received the same impressive level of giving as last year," said IMB President Jerry Rankin. The "shortfall in our budget...will have to be made up from other sources, but even more critical is the declining value of the dollar overseas."
IMB supports the work of over 5,300 missionaries around the world who collectively reported a record 60,000 people baptized in 2007. In 2007, IMB also planted more than 25,000 churches and implemented church-planting strategies among more than 1,100 people groups, including 100 that were previously unreached.
IMB leaders are challenging the church to send 2,700 more missionaries to reach more unengaged people groups.
"We don't plan to back off on sending missionaries at all," said David Steverson, IMB treasurer and vice president for finance. "We plan to press forward. We will evaluate all of our planned expenditures and forgo most of our planned capital investments for the remainder of the year. The Lord provides for what He plans. None of this catches Him by surprise. If He's calling missionaries out, He'll find a way to get the funds to us."
IMB is also funded by the Southern Baptist denomination's Cooperative Program and by gifts from individuals toward specific outreach ministries.
"We are grateful for the strong commitment to the Great Commission exhibited by the generous giving of Southern Baptists to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering," said Rankin. "Although we're disappointed by the failure to meet the goal of $165 million, we think it is significant in the context of financial challenges in today's economy that we received the same impressive level of giving as last year."