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Church gives $77,000-plus to Annie Armstrong offering on Easter

KATY, Texas (BP)–A Houston-area congregation that pledged its entire Easter morning offering to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions gave more than $77,000 in an effort “put its money where its mouth is,” the church’s pastor, Randy White, said.

The offering was a 700 percent increase from the church’s $11,103 offering last year. The congregation voted unanimously March 28 to contribute the morning’s gifts to the offering, which funds missions efforts of the North American Mission Board in the United States and Canada.

Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, praised the church’s unprecedented commitment to impacting the continent with the Gospel.

“In these extraordinary days, keeping missions and evangelism in the forefront of Southern Baptist life takes extraordinary measures,” he said. “Randy White and the members of First Baptist Church have sacrificially set a new pace for partnership in North American missions in their gift to the Annie Armstrong Offering -– while not flinching from their strong support of other vital missions offerings including the Cooperative Program.

“Creative, out-of-the-box thinking and bold faith-filled initiatives like this are the sign of visionary leadership and sacrificial followship, and a faith absolutely dependent on God,” he continued. “On behalf of our missionaries and mission partners across North America, we are thankful.”

The offering was collected from among the church’s 2,000 attendees on Easter Sunday.

The 105-year-old church has a heritage of strong financial support for mission work. In addition to the Easter Sunday offering, since Jan. 1 the church has given or designated approximately $200,000 for missions causes outside its own ministries.

“People may wonder why a church would decide to give an entire Sunday’s offering away,” said Randy Strain, the church’s minister of praise and worship. “Our church wanted to show the world that we love the Lord, and we desire that every person comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.”

White said the church was looking for a way to help spread the Gospel as well as express its gratitude to God for blessings the church has been enjoying. The church has seen its regular attendance increase by 25 percent over the past year, and its membership has grown by more than 80 people since the beginning of 2004.

“We know these are blessings of God, and that the Bible says, ‘to whom much is given, much is required,’” White said. “We also believe that America is in desperate need of revival. We wanted to make a financial commitment to this revival and a bold statement of faith through our contribution to North American missions.”

The annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering supports more than 5,000 missionaries jointly funded by the North American Mission Board and state Baptist conventions. Those missionaries start Southern Baptist churches, meet physical needs while sharing Christ at inner-city ministry centers, lead evangelistic ministries on college campuses, among many roles. The offering goal for 2004 is $54 million.

The Texas church’s gift is especially significant for NAMB this year, which currently has 81 missionary positions vacant because of funding shortfalls either with NAMB or its state convention partners. Additionally, about 100 summer missionaries and 100 semester missionaries could not be deployed last year because of a lack of funds.

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  • James Dotson