Human trafficking occurs at truck stops, on street corners and in luxury hotels throughout the state, with Atlanta being the focus. Members of Georgia Woman’s Missionary Union, shown prayer walking a truck stop, have been leaders in redemptive ministry to women and children caught up in the form of modern-day slavery.
By ROGER ALFORD
The Christian Index
DULUTH, Ga. – September is the month Georgia Baptists have set aside to focus on ministry needs within the Peach State to fulfill the Acts 1:8 strategy that calls for Christians to share the gospel not just nationally and internationally but also right here at home.
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board is kicking off the annual emphasis on Mission Georgia on Sunday.
“Georgia Baptists are Great Commission people and Mission Georgia is all about fulfilling the Great Commission,” said Thomas Hammond Jr, executive director of the Mission Board. “The lostness of our state is heartbreaking to all of us and the love of Christ compels us to do something about it. Mission Georgia is one of the evangelistic efforts that has the potential to see an incredible harvest of souls. This initiative is an opportunity to unite resources and ministry to make a significant difference for eternity.”
Each year, Georgia Baptist churches collect a special offering to support Mission Georgia, a multi-faceted initiative. Through Mission Georgia, teenage girls forced into prostitution by human traffickers are being rescued. Orphaned children who had been stuck in foster care are getting forever families. Mothers-to-be are getting the prenatal care and counseling they need to deliver healthy babies. Kids who can’t read are getting the educational help they need to not only catch up with their classmates but to excel in the classroom. And immigrants from other countries who settle in Georgia are finding homes, getting jobs and learning English.
Those are some of the reasons why the 3,600 churches of the Georgia Baptist Convention give through the Mission Georgia offering, one of three major offerings recognized by Georgia Baptist churches. The others are the Lottie Moon Christmas offering to support international missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter offering to support North American missions.
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s website, gabaptist.org, has all the downloadable resources church leaders need to promote the offering, including materials for printing and a series of promotional videos.
Lorna Bius, a mobilizer for Mission Georgia, said the state faces major spiritual battles and the initiative provides the means to win those battles, including the heartbreak of human trafficking, a criminal enterprise that generates about $290 million a year in Georgia. That’s seven times the amount Georgia Baptist churches contribute to missions.
By giving to the offering, Georgia’s 1.4 million Southern Baptists can help children who have fallen behind in school to catch up. That’s important, Hammond said, because two-thirds of children who do not read proficiently by the end of fourth grade end up on a path that could lead to jail or on welfare.
Bius said a million immigrants, including refugees who escaped horrible circumstances, live in Georgia and need people to come alongside them to teach them English, help them find housing, and to share the gospel with them. Many refugees are Christians who escaped dire persecution when they came to the U.S.
The offering covers some of the costs of ministry to orphaned children in the state. Hammond said Georgia taxpayers spend over $9 million a year for hotel rooms for foster children because they don’t have foster homes or adoptive homes for them to go to, and Mission Georgia has initiatives in place to encourage Georgia Baptists to become foster parents and take these children into their homes.
“The needs are so great all across our state,” Bius said. “Our God is greater than these challenges. By working, giving and praying together, we can meet those needs.”