RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptists gave more than $113 million for the cause of international missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in 2000. Those gifts pushed the offering’s 113-year cumulative total past the $2 billion mark.
“This generous offering will meet critical needs overseas,” said Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board. “It means being able to keep pressing forward with the unprecedented opportunities to reach a lost world and continue to appoint record numbers of new missionaries.
“We rejoice in God’s faithfulness through Southern Baptists to give so sacrificially to the support of our missionaries and their work around the world.”
The $113,175,191.96 offering is a 7.3 percent increase over last year’s total of more than $105 million. The growth also represents the second-largest dollar increase since the offering’s inception in 1888. Total receipts since 1888 stand at almost $2.1 billion.
Much of the credit for the $113 million offering belongs to Woman’s Missionary Union, said David Steverson, vice president for finance and treasurer of the IMB.
“Woman’s Missionary Union takes a primary role in promotion of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” he said. “We are grateful for them and the leadership they provide in calling Southern Baptists to reach a lost world through sacrificial giving.”
The annual international missions offering is far more than just a way to raise money, said WMU Executive Director/Treasurer Wanda S. Lee.
“At the heart of WMU is our support for missionaries here at home and around the world,” Lee said. “We are grateful for the increase in gifts this past year to the offering and commend the churches for their selfless giving.
“The LMCO symbolizes more than a fund-raising activity; it is a call to stewardship of all that we are and have. Only when our prayers are offered consistently on behalf of those who have followed his call to go and tell will we truly discover the joy that comes with sacrificial giving,” Lee said.
At least $111 million of the offering will go toward the overseas operating budget, while the remaining $2 million will fund the overseas capital budget. The entire amount will be used exclusively for missionaries and their ministries, Steverson said.
“None of it is spent for stateside administration or promotion,” he said.
The annual offering is crucial for missionaries to be effective in their work, said Avery Willis, senior vice president for overseas operations
“This is very important to the missions mandate because the Lottie Moon offering goes to fund the basics of our missionaries being on the field and of having the means that they need to do their jobs,” Willis said. “They are waiting anxiously to know whether they are going to have funds to do the evangelism, the church planting and the leadership training that needs to be done.”
The goal for the 2000 offering was $115 million. The IMB counts on the entire goal when projecting the budget each year.
“Since we did not reach our goal there will be many other needs that will go unmet,” Willis said. “The Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon offering are the lifelines of Southern Baptist mission efforts for almost 5,000 missionaries in 154 countries working among 1,200 people groups.”
For Christmas 2001, WMU and the International Mission Board have set a $120 million goal for the offering.
“As we anticipate the next offering, I am hopeful we can measure our gifts not in comparison to the year before, but relative to what is needed to fulfill the Great Commission,” Rankin said.
The International Mission Board is a Southern Baptist Convention agency supported by the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering provided 46 percent of the agency’s $263 million budget in 2000.
— Who was Lottie Moon?: http://www.imb.org/ime/lmco/pr_bio.htm.
— Letters from Lottie Moon: http://www.imb.org/ime/lmco/best.htm.
— See God moving throughout the world: http://www.imb.org/video/IME_2000.htm.
(BP) photo Posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ENABLED.