Missions giving up among Southern Baptists

By January 7, 2004

USA (MNN) — Southern Baptists are responding with
vision and passion to this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, if early reports are any indicator.

This past summer, the International Mission Board announced it was delaying the appointment of about 100 new missionaries because support from Southern Baptist churches had not grown as rapidly as the number of church members coming forward for overseas service. IMB President Jerry Rankin challenged Southern Baptists to respond by increasing their LMCO goals by 33 percent.

It appears that many churches thought even a 33 percent increase wasn’t enough.

For example, First Baptist Church of Grayson, Ky., a congregation that runs about 200 in Sunday School, set a church record when they gave $2,500 to the 2002 Lottie Moon offering. The church was moved, however, by the news that new missionaries were having to wait for appointment, and decided to set a goal of $10,000 for this year’s offering. Pastor John Newland told them they could easily reach that goal if each church member set aside just $3 a week for 17 weeks.

In the space of a few weeks, the church gave $5,400 — more than twice the previous year’s record amount. As of Dec. 14, the congregation had given $6,466.

Beulah Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., surpassed its Lottie Moon goal in 2002 with an offering of $1,500. Missions became more personal for the congregation of 110, however, when the son of their associate pastor was commissioned for overseas service.

This year, their pastor challenged the congregation to set a goal of $1,500 and match it from their bank account if the goal was reached. When they received their offering, it totaled more than $7,000.

Those stories were repeated across the U-S. Sacrificial expressions of personal commitment to the mission task are encouraging, IMB President Jerry Rankin says.

“We are richly blessed by being able to work each day with a staff that has a devotion and passion for undergirding and supporting our missionaries around the world,” he says. “To see them make this kind of sacrificial financial commitment to their support, knowing the needs of their families and limited resources at this time of the year, stirs my heart.

“And while our trustees are leading their churches to give at a significant level to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, they also have reflected their personal commitment to what we are all about by giving more than $100,000 this year. I trust Southern Baptists and all our churches will follow their example.”

Southern Baptists not only are responding to the plight of missionaries who can’t go and a lost world that needs to hear, but also to the amazing opportunities and tremendous openness missionaries overseas are reporting among people groups that have never before heard the gospel, Willis said.

“This is the greatest time of opportunity we have ever seen as Southern Baptists,” he said. “I believe that, as they begin to see the world as God sees it, we will see the greatest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in history. I see it as a chance to put our money where our mouth is.”

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