Lottie Moon offering at First Baptist Statesboro tops $200,000, still climbing


STATESBORO, Ga. — An electronic timer on display at First Baptist Church in Statesboro showed the alarming rate at which people around the world are dying without the hope of salvation.

The number climbed as seconds ticked by. Within 10 minutes, the count had reached 325 people. Each successive 10 minutes added that many more. And in the next 24 hours, according to the International Mission Board, the total would climb to 157,000.

Pastor John Waters used the display during his sermon on Dec. 10 to highlight the urgency of the work of missionaries serving in countries around the world. Since then, he has seen an outpouring of financial support to get the gospel to the nations.

Waters and his congregation find the number of people dying without Christ both shocking and unacceptable. And, in an effort to do something about it, they’re digging deep to support worldwide evangelism through a special offering named for famed missionary Lottie Moon.

The money raised will be used to keep some 3,600 International Mission Board missionaries serving overseas.

First Baptist Statesboro has always been generous in its financial support to the International Mission Board, giving up to $70,000 a year through the annual offering. But this year, armed with the dismal numbers of people dying spiritually lost, they have dug much deeper and, as of last Sunday,  had already topped the $200,000 mark for the special offering.

The number of families contributing to the offering at First Baptist Statesboro, Waters said, has also increased to 295, up from 195 the previous year.

Church leaders had initially set a goal of raising $100,000 for the Lottie Moon offering. The congregation quickly exceeded that. They then set a new goal of raising $177,000, representing $1,000 for each of the 177 years the International Mission Board has existed. The congregation topped that, too, and may well go beyond $250,000 by the end of January, when time allotted for receiving the special offering concludes.

“Our folks see lostness as the cause of all the brokenness in the world,” Waters said. “And they see the Lottie Moon offering as a worthy and timely cause. It helps knowing that all the money given goes to direct missionary support overseas.”

International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood said First Baptist Statesboro’s generosity “is not only good news for the IMB, it’s also good news for the nations.”

“I’m so grateful for the leadership of Pastor John Waters and the efforts of his church to address lostness as the world‘s greatest problem,” Chitwood said. “Taking the gospel to more than 120 countries every year through the IMB requires every Southern Baptist church of every size to be involved. To see one of our churches stepping up like this is incredibly exciting.”

Waters said his congregation takes seriously its responsibility to share the gospel locally, across the state and nation, and around the world.

“They really feel like our missionaries in faraway places are making a difference,” he said. “When people see that a ministry is making a difference, they give to it. People want to be a part of something that’s making a difference.”