We believe in doing missions. We’re not interested in just talking about it or thinking about it. Obeying the final commission of our Savior is part of our theological DNA. It is at the core of how we “do church.” North Carolina Baptists want to do missions.
But there is a problem. It takes dollars to plant churches and send out missionaries. Too often we are not willing to “put your money where your mouth is.”
A friend once said, “What you do is what you believe. All else is just religious talk.” That is a painful statement, but it is more true than we want to admit.
Tom Elliff, president of our International Mission Board, made a statement recently that has stayed on my mind. In my editorial in the Feb. 1 edition of the Biblical Recorder, I quoted Elliff from a sermon he delivered at Corinth Baptist Church in Elizabeth City.
He said, “In sacrifice something always changes. If we can give what we give, and still drive what we were driving, and still wear what we were wearing, and live where we were living, and eat what we were eating, and go where we want to go, where’s the sacrifice?”
The Cooperative Program is the primary method by which Southern Baptist churches provide regular support to missions through our state conventions, national agencies and institutions.
Cooperative Program funds are supplemented at the two Southern Baptist mission entities through special offerings that make up a significant portion of their budgets – the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® (AAEO) for North American missions.
Now is the time to demonstrate that we believe in doing missions on our own continent. This is the season when we support missions through the AAEO. The desperate need calls for unprecedented, sacrificial giving.
Kevin Ezell is the president of our North American Mission Board (NAMB). North Carolina Baptists have expressed our love and support for Ezell’s leadership.
I asked him to share something with N.C. Baptists about the importance of this offering.
He said. “Our largest funding stream for North American missions is the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. Our missionaries depend on it for their funding and for the resources that directly allow them to do their work. We are grateful for every penny, and we don’t take it for granted.
“Many of the changes we have made at NAMB in the last three years have resulted in getting more money to the field and more to the areas of North America that need it most.
“We will continue to do that so Southern Baptists can be assured that when they give, their money will go to reaching people for Christ.”
Tanner Turley is the lead pastor at Redemption Hill Church in the Boston area. He is a NAMB church planter who receives support from this offering. His primary sending church is Open Door Baptist in Raleigh.
Turley recently shared with me, “God has done a great work in our church over the past three years.
“We would not be where we are today apart from the generosity of Southern Baptists through NAMB. Your Kingdom partnership has provided immense financial support and encouragement in our journey.”
Dennis Conner grew up in North Carolina and pastored three churches here. He is now serving in Illinois. Conner sent this message to me last week, “Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, I heard about the importance of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering to the mission work in North America.
“As the pastor of three long-established churches in my native North Carolina, I encouraged these churches to give sacrificially to this offering.”
Eight years ago Conner left N.C. to become a church planter in Phoenix. He said the AAEO has fueled his ministry. “As a church planter in Arizona, we received financial support from NAMB that enabled us to give birth to Crosspointe, the Church at Tartesso,” he said.
“Then as a church planting catalyst serving in Arizona with the North American Mission Board, my salary, benefits and operating budget were provided, in part, by the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.”
Now Conner serves as a “Jointly Funded Missionary” with the Illinois Baptist State Association.
He said, “As the director of church planting for the Northeast Region of Illinois, the AAEO helps provide me the opportunity to work with pastors, church planters, interns, apprentices and others to plant churches in Chicagoland and watch God transform the city of Chicago with the gospel.”
He added, “I am the face of Annie Armstrong. Thank you for your faithful, prayerful and sacrificial support to give life to new churches and to give new life to many through the gospel.”
This is what you are doing when you give sacrificially to North American missions through the AAEO.
Turley, Conner and thousands of other church planters and missionaries are the face of this offering. The people in these new churches are the faces of this offering.
The millions in these cities who are lost without Christ are the face of this offering.
Let’s give sacrificially.