RICHMOND, Va. — Gifts from several sources are enabling the International Mission Board (IMB) to send additional missionaries to the field this year after a shortfall in the 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions forced suspension of some programs and restricted new missionary appointments.
IMB President Jerry Rankin expressed appreciation to individuals, churches and Baptist entities for their additional financial support in response to a drop in Lottie Moon receipts.
“I cannot adequately express my heartfelt thanks for these gifts,” Rankin said. “This tangible expression of love for Christ, a heart for missions and a desire to reach a lost world will help Southern Baptists be faithful to the Great Commission by sending more missionaries to the field.”
The 2008 annual offering totaled $141 million, $29 million short of a $170 million goal. It was also $9 million less than receipts from each of the past two years. As a result, appointments to International Service Corps and Masters programs were suspended and other missionary appointments severely restricted.
Speakers at the annual Southern Baptist Convention and the Pastors’ Conference — both meeting in Louisville, Ky., in June — noted that sending missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission must remain Southnern Baptists’ priority.
An offering was taken at the Pastors’ Conference and a check presented by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) during the SBC annual meeting.
Ed Litton, Pastors’ Conference president, asked those attending for a special offering to help IMB. More than $43,000 was given by attendees at the two-day pre-SBC gathering.
Jim Richards, executive director of the Texas convention, presented a check for $100,000 during the IMB annual report to the convention to show their support for international missions.
Several churches have contacted IMB, indicating that their churches are taking special offerings.
“The money will be used to send missionaries called and qualified to go who we would not be able to send and support this year without these gifts,” Rankin reported.
Rankin emphasized that this is not just about the number of missionaries and meeting the needs of the mission board. “God is moving in amazing ways through global events to reach a lost world,” he said. “The opportunities are unprecedented to impact lostness and engage unreached people groups.
“We are seeing record baptisms and church growth, and God is calling missionaries to join Him in His work around the world. This will help us to more effectively respond in reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Reported by the International Mission Board’s communications staff. To support the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, go to imb.org/offering.)