ROCKMART, Ga. (BP)–An idea that sprung from this Georgia church’s laity will mean more Bible study books for prison inmates in the Philippines, more church starts in Africa and more believers worldwide.
The Woman’s Missionary Union at First Baptist Church, Rockmart, Ga., challenged the congregation to double this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. It was a giant leap of faith for the congregation, which averages 300 in Sunday attendance and was more comfortable with mission offering goals in four digits rather than five.
Deacon chairman Roy Miller first conceived the idea and floated it with members of the missions organization for feedback.
“I felt that the Lord had been so good to us during the past year and that we needed to do something to recognize that,” Miller said, noting it “just made sense to return to the Lord some of the portion that God had so graciously given to us.”
As a result of the WMU-led emphasis, on Feb. 6 the congregation presented a symbolic check for $18,778 to recently returned IMB missionary Emily Hill of Atlanta.
Reflecting on the doubled Lottie Moon offering during the morning worship service, Miller said that whenever he needed “a pan of biscuits or a bowl of greens, this church has been there to help me. This is our way of sending a pan of biscuits and a bowl of greens to the mission field so that others may know Christ.”
Linda Brackett, WMU director and member of the missions organization for the past 35 years, said she thought the church would eventually give that amount to missions — but not for several years.
“We just had to nudge them along and bring their attention to the needs on the mission field and how God had blessed us,” Brackett said. “We have a lot of faithful givers and they responded out of their gratitude to God.”
Ruth Kinney, mission study chairperson, said the church traditionally takes the amount given in the previous year and increases it by 15 percent to determine the new goal. Thus this year’s goal of $8,832 would have set a record even without the matching amount.
In accepting the check on behalf of IMB missionaries worldwide, Hill said the annual offering provided three levels of benefits.
“First, it is a direct investment in the lives of people. Second, it is an investment with life-and-death consequences and eternal significance. And third, it brings a great return on the initial investment.”
One example of how the funds would be used, Hill explained, is to help provide some Bible study booklets to 60 inmates in a ministry in which she and her husband have been involved in the Philippines — a ministry which saw 30 of the inmates accept Christ last year.
David Taylor, First Baptist’s pastor, noted that the 125-year-old church has had a longstanding commitment to personal involvement in missions as well as giving to missions. That theme was reinforced throughout the service, including a missions testimony by church member Dixie Ford, coupling the need to personally serve with the need to sacrificially give.