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Effect of Texas drought to reach Baptist missions, treasurer projects

DALLAS (BP)–Even with severe drought afflicting key parts of Texas, Baptists have given during the first seven months of 1998 a record $42 million to the work of Baptists at home, in the state, in the nation and around the world, according to Roger Hall, treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
In reports to several BGCT bodies, Hall has cited news reports which show the drought of 1998 has cost state farms and ranches more than $2.1 billion, with the economic ripple effect to approach $6 billion. He added the experts predict as many as 25 to 30 percent of the state’s farmers, ranchers and others who depend on agribusiness for a livelihood face foreclosure and/or bankruptcy and may not be in business next year.
“When we look at the gifts of Texas Baptists,” Hall said, “the economic news makes us even more conscious of the source of those gifts and the sacrifices they represent” — real people, in real towns, on real farms, in real businesses, who go to real churches.
“This makes us very humble and very grateful to God and to those who are making the gifts,” Hall said.
Hall projected what an economic disaster approaching $6 billion would mean to Texas Baptists as he spelled out the ripple effect which will touch every area of the state’s economic life.
“If we use the figure that 15 percent of the farmers and ranchers and others involved in agriculture are Texas Baptists, then we would project that Baptists might bear the brunt of $900 million of that loss,” Hall said.
If a Baptist agriculture family gives 3 percent of their income to their church, he continued, the possible loss to the churches would be $27 million.
If that church gives 8.5 percent through the Cooperative Program — the state average — it could mean a loss of between $2.5 and $3 million, he said.
When the annual missions offerings for state, national and international causes are factored in, he added, there could be the loss of another $2 million.
Also, he added, “we have not yet seen the full impact of this crisis, particularly if as many as a third of those involved in agriculture will be forced out of business, leaving a void for the future.
“We do not know yet the full extent of the suffering of our farm families, and the kinds of sacrifices they have already made to support our work.”
So, Hall noted, when news reports show farm losses may approach $6 million this year, it is not some abstract, distant population and event.
It involves and effects everyone. Including Texas Baptists and their missions causes.

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  • Dan Martin