GRAYSON, Ky. (BP)–John Newland recognizes his church can’t single-handedly send missionaries overseas. However, he believes God will bless its step of faith — collecting its largest-ever Lottie Moon international missions offering.
With its four-month campaign entering the final stretch, First Baptist Church of Grayson, Ky., already has raised the largest mission offering in its history. The $5,400 collected is more than twice last year’s record amount of just over $2,500.
However, the church still hopes to make its goal of $10,000. Newland challenged the church to set the ambitious target in August after financial cutbacks by the International Missions Board meant 100 new missionaries would have to wait for appointment.
“I realize our group can’t even get one missionary off the deferred list,” the pastor said. “… [B]ut we can do our part.
“If we are faithful, God will multiply it and use it,” Newland added. “We leave the results in God’s hands, but do what he calls us to do.”
First Baptist, which averages about 200 in attendance each Sunday, had steadily increased its giving to the annual missions offering. But the pastor said the congregation hadn’t aggressively challenged itself for a while in the area of giving.
After praying about what they could do, Newland calculated that if each person in attendance gave $3 a week for 17 weeks, it would raise just over $10,000.
He also drew inspiration from Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
“I thought, ‘We are within reach of this and now is not the time to slow down,'” Newland said. “It was a rather mystical experience. I felt we should do something way beyond what we’ve done.”
Although the pace must pick up to make the $10,000 goal, two current missions projects are stirring interest in the offering:
— A group of 30 teens and adults traveled to Charlotte, N.C., Nov. 23-26 to help prepare gift boxes for Samaritan Purse’s international outreach, Operation Christmas Child.
— After concluding a three-part series on evangelism Nov. 30, Newland is departing Dec. 4 for an overseas mission trip.
“We had a testimony service [recently] and several folks expressed confidence we would meet our goal,” Newland said.
Significantly, the special offering comes at a time when the church is struggling with other demands. Located in downtown Grayson, it needs more parking and has been discussing building renovations. First Baptist also would like to hire an associate pastor, the post Newland held before he became pastor three years ago. “We’re kind of an in-between church,” he said. “We’re not big enough to support a second, fulltime staff member, but we’re big enough to need it.”
Along with its association and First Baptist of Sandy Hook, the church also is helping start a congregation in Horton Flats, a small community near Grayson Lake.
Although it is too early to tell if the Lottie Moon offering will spur more members to get directly involved in missions, Newland said, “We look for God to do exciting things in the days ahead.”