DALLAS (BP)–First Baptist Church of Dallas has announced that members of the storied congregation have given more than $1 million through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, more than four times its gift last year and twice as large as the biggest sum ever sent through Lottie Moon to fund Southern Baptists’ work abroad.
Mac Brunson, First Baptist’s pastor, and his wife, Debbie, an International Mission Board trustee, made the announcement in late December via a videotaped message. Brunson and his family were leading a mission trip to Beirut, Lebanon.
IMB President Jerry Rankin filled the pulpit in Brunson’s absence.
“I’m supposed to preach after that?” Rankin asked rhetorically after stepping to the pulpit. Rankin said he originally came to challenge the people to give to mission work. Instead he said he was quickly “shifting gears to a celebration of praise.”
Rankin said this is the largest single offering ever given to the IMB through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering; as of Dec. 28, First Baptist’s offering stood at $1.16 million. The previous best was just under $400,000.
Last year, First Baptist Church’s $240,000 placed it among the top 10 churches in Lottie Moon giving. This year, the church raised the bar by setting a challenge goal of $300,000.
First Baptist’s offering comes in the midst of a $44 million “Rising Together” building campaign.
The IMB had challenged some of the larger Southern Baptist churches that are traditionally large contributors to the Lottie Moon Offering to give $500,000 this year. However, Rankin said he never expected this type of response.
“Talk about being blown away and overwhelmed,” Rankin said. “It’s more than I can even comment on. This is just awesome. I think it reflects the heart that First Baptist Dallas has for missions.”
Brunson agreed. Speaking from Lebanon, he said he believes the offering resulted from what God was doing in the hearts of His people the last few years at the downtown Dallas church. “They are committed to not just giving, but to going,” Brunson said.
In addition to the current mission trip, which includes 21 people from First Baptist, Criswell College and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the church sent a group of young people to Buenos Aires over the Thanksgiving holidays. The church also is planning another trip to Russia in May.
Brunson said God is moving in the hearts of young people to make the commitment to fulltime ministry as well. He said more than 100 young people have come forward over the past year to say they believe God was dealing with them about some type of Christian service.
Rankin said he has seen reports of churches “giving more than ever before” — going above and beyond their Lottie Moon goals all across the Southern Baptist Convention.
During his sermon, Rankin told the congregation he believes the overwhelming response to mission work is not a random thing. Muslim countries around the world are opening their borders to the Gospel for the first time, he said. As the field becomes white unto harvest, God will have to send the workers. In the last few years, record numbers of people have surrendered their lives to fulltime mission work.
However, some recent work has been put on hold because of budget shortfalls, including more than 100 potential missionaries who have been delayed.
Rodney Hays is a correspondent with the Southern Baptist Texan, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.