Record $150 million offering to result in more missionaries
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Southern Baptists topped the 2006 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal, delivering the largest gift in the offering's 118-year history.
After the books closed May 31, the final tally hit $150,178,098.06, an 8.9 percent increase over last year's $137.9 million. Southern Baptists last exceeded their goal three years ago by giving more than $136.2 million to the 2003 offering after missionary appointments lagged because of insufficient funds.
The offering supports the work of more than 5,100 missionaries across the globe. This year's gifts are expected to have a notable impact on the number of personnel being sent to the field. Board leaders anticipate sending 200 extra missionaries over the next two years, in addition to the normal appointment numbers.
"Because we are a missionary-sending organization, the number of missionaries we are able to send is directly related to the gifts we receive from Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering," said Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board.
"Not only will this unprecedented amount enable us to send more missionaries, it demonstrates the heart of Southern Baptists for missions and the high priority they give to reaching a lost world.
"More unreached people groups will have access to the Gospel, more people will be won and baptized, more churches planted and leaders discipled and trained around the world because of such a generous level of giving."
Rankin credited Woman's Missionary Union's support for contributing to the offering's success.
"We are grateful for the partnership with WMU and their conscientious efforts in sponsoring and promoting the offering, as well as the personal sacrifice that gifts to the LMCO reflect in individuals throughout the convention."
Wanda Lee, executive director/treasurer of national WMU, added her appreciation to faithful support of Southern Baptists.
"Support for international missionaries is critical, and we are so grateful to the men and women, boys and girls, who are a part of what God is doing around the world by supporting international missionaries through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering," Lee said.
"When WMU sets the [Lottie Moon Christmas Offering] goal each year, we recognize that it can only be attained when believers prayerfully consider the need and give sacrificially so that others may hear the name of Jesus."
Since the offering began in 1888, the total amount received through 2006 has exceeded $2.8 billion.
GIVING LEADS TO MORE GOING
David Steverson, IMB treasurer and vice president for finance, announced at a May trustee meeting that if early projections held up, the board would be able to send an extra 200 missionaries to the field. Now, the question is whether enough Southern Baptists will step forward to accept God's call to missions, he said.
"We are grateful to the Lord for the tremendous blessing of this record offering given through Southern Baptists," Steverson said.
"Pray to the Lord of the harvest to call out those who will go and proclaim His message throughout the world."
Last year, the board reported that 104 new people groups were engaged with the Gospel, 23,486 churches were started and 475,072 people were baptized.
"Thank you, Southern Baptists, for stepping up to the challenge of global evangelization and funding the highest Lottie Moon offering in missions history," said Gordon Fort, vice president for overseas operations.
"As a result, we will be taking new initiatives to engage unreached people groups and will have the financial resources to increase our capacity to send more missionaries to the front lines."
To learn more about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, visit imb.org or call 1-800-999-3113.