By Julie McGowan
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — In the 100th anniversary since Southern Baptists named their global mission offering in honor of esteemed missionary Lottie Moon, churches gave $158.9 million to sustain their international missionaries worldwide — the second-highest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions ever received.
“We praise the Lord and thank Southern Baptist churches who have again generously demonstrated their faithfulness in undergirding the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth,” said Clyde Meador, interim president of the International Mission Board.
With the books on the offering closing Sept. 30, the 2017-18 Lottie Moon offering, at $158,890,638.47, neared the national goal of $160 million.
Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), which promotes the offering in partnership with IMB, also expressed gratitude.
“The breadth of missionary opportunity around the globe must be matched by a God-given vision to reach the lost,” she said. “The totals of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering demonstrate an obedience to the Great Commission. We rejoice knowing these simple dollars will turn into seeds planted for the Gospel. We pray for a rich harvest among the peoples of the world.”
The Lottie Moon offering is crucial in supporting nearly 3,700 full-time missionaries, who are key strategic workers in some of the toughest areas on earth. The offering — and regular giving by churches through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program — funds missionary salaries, housing, medical care, children’s education, field transportation, and other expenses.
Since CP giving provides a substantive portion of IMB’s overall budget (a budget of $264.4 million in 2018-19, according to Rodney Freeman, IMB treasurer and vice president of Support Services), every dollar donated to the offering goes directly to the IMB overseas budget, which directly supports missionaries and their work.
Southern Baptists have given more than $4.5 billion since beginning an offering to support international missions in 1888, Freeman reported.
‘Why we come together’
Through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists directly support the work of their personnel such as:
— Larry Pepper, who traded a space mission for a medical mission among the sick and hurting in Africa. See related story.
— Scott and Joyce Pittman in São Paulo, Brazil, who partner with the members of a Kentucky church to reach the city of 22 million with the gospel. See related story.
— Russell Woodbridge, who works alongside members of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., to train Ukrainian believers who are planting churches. See related story.
“Thank you, Southern Baptists, for giving so generously this year to the spread of the Great Commission to all the nations of the earth,” said J.D. Greear, SBC president and pastor of The Summit Church. “This is at the heart of why we come together. May God make us abound in love for the lost around the world and faith in God’s willingness to save them, and express that through extravagant generosity for the sake of making His name known in all the earth!”
The 2017-18 offering ran Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018, to align with IMB’s fiscal calendar. The 2018-19 offering runs Oct. 1, 2018-Sept. 30, 2019.
Learn more here.
Julie McGowan is public relations manager for IMB.