ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions currently is a priority for most SBC churches, but a congregation in suburban Houston has taken its commitment to an unprecedented level.
On Easter Sunday morning, First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, will “give away” all receipts from its three services to the Annie Armstrong Offering, which funds Southern Baptist missions efforts across the United States and Canada.
“Our church is ready to step up to the plate in partnering with our Southern Baptist family in reaching the world for Christ,” said pastor Randy White, who addressed a chapel service at the North American Mission Board’s offices in Alpharetta, Ga., March 31.
White estimated the offering would be approximately $75,000.
NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord said the decision comes at a particularly critical time for NAMB, which currently has 181 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 because of a lack of funds.
“A guy who could easily say, ‘We want to keep this money at home in a burgeoning metropolitan area,’ is instead saying, ‘We want to give this money away because we understand you cannot outgive God,’” Reccord said in expressing appreciation.
One hundred percent of the Annie Armstrong Offering, named for the first leader of Woman’s Missionary Union, goes to support NAMB missionaries who are starting new SBC churches and doing evangelism in the United States, Canada and U.S. territories. Most NAMB missionaries are jointly supported with state Baptist convention partners. The national goal this year is $54 million although the offering has not reached its goal for several years.
White said the idea for encouraging his church to donate its entire Easter morning offering came as he began considering how the United States is currently facing “the best of times, and the worst of times,” borrowing a phrase from Charles Dickens. On one hand, he said, are disturbing trends such as a move to legalize homosexual “marriages,” while at the same time encouraging signs of revival can be seen through such phenomena as the success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ” in theaters.
“I just got this strong conviction that America has three roads in front of it,” White said. Either Christ will rapture His church, the nation could continue on its current path of rejecting God and face the consequences, or revival and spiritual awakening could begin to transform the nation.
“I can’t do anything about the first one — that’s the Lord’s timing,” White said. “And with the second one all I can do is scream and holler. I can’t stop America from going that path. But I can go to the Lord to get revived, and I can lead my church in that. And that could spark into something that would change the path America is on.”
The natural avenue for encouraging national revival, he said, was to support the North American Mission Board in its efforts to see that happen.
“It is essential that we join with our denomination, and together, as servants, win the world to Christ,” he said. “I see more and more churches that want to do it on their own, but I don’t think even the largest ones are making a drop in the bucket.”
When he made the radical proposal to his church at a recent business session, the decision was unanimous.
“As we began the discussion there was one older man who stood up with tears in his eyes and said, ‘I’ve been praying for this day,’” White said.
“A retired pastor said, ‘I’ve started churches in Illinois and Oregon, and lived off the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. I’m burdened to win our nation to Christ.’ Another member stood and said, ‘I don’t even know who Annie Armstrong is, but if she’s reaching our nation for Christ I’m all for it.’”
For more information on the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Season of North American Missions, visit www.AnnieArmstrong.com. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: EASTER GIFTS and THANKS TO A PARTNER.