IMB sending more missionaries

By May 5, 2004

USA (MNN/IMB) — An “extremely promising” outlook for the 2003 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering convinced trustees of the International Mission Board to send an additional 200 workers overseas this year.

During their April 26-28 meeting in Nashville, Tenn., the board members also elected a new vice president for overseas operations, voted to consolidate eight of the board’s regions of work into four and appointed 76 new long-term missionaries for overseas service.

David Steverson, IMB vice president for finance, told the board that prospects for the 2003 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions looked “extremely promising.” With still more than a month to go before the books close, the offering stands at almost $127 million — about $19 million ahead of the previous year’s pace. Steverson said he believed the final total May 31 would exceed the base goal of $133 million.

Toward that end, the trustees adopted a recommendation from their Finance Committee to add $13 million to the 2004 budget, including an additional $5 million to send 200 long- and short-term missionaries who would not otherwise have been sent because of appointment restrictions imposed in 2003. Another $4 million in additional funds was allocated for capital expenditures such as missionary housing and vehicles.

The remaining $4 million was added to missionary support, a move made necessary because missionary attrition has been lower than expected this past year. It appears, Steverson said, that missionaries who were planning to retire, resign or complete terms decided to stay when they heard last year that new missionaries were being held up for lack of finances.

The IMB was forced to limit appointments and cut stateside staff in June 2003 because income from churches was not keeping pace with strong growth in the number of new missionaries coming forward for overseas service. Rankin had promised to loosen restrictions on appointments if Southern Baptists rose to the funding challenge.

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