RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–I will never forget the horrible realization three years ago: We would have to defer missionary appointments due to lack of financial resources. After all, we are a missionary-sending entity in the world’s largest evangelical denomination with unlimited potential resources.
Each of the previous two years more than 1,000 new missionaries had been sent around the world, and more candidates were in the process of appointment than ever before. The critical nature of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering became evident as never before. It is not just providing additional support beyond the Cooperative Program to underwrite the budget of the International Mission Board.
It is a vital facet of supporting God-called missionaries to take the Gospel to a lost world.
We in America tend to take our salvation experience for granted as most of us have heard the Gospel all our lives. Yet, hundreds of people groups have never had a Christian witness. There is no church in their town or neighborhood and maybe not in their entire region.
That’s why we give: to send and support missionaries to reach the whole world. This year’s international missions emphasis is on West Africa, a region that desperately needs more missionary personnel. You will read about the Songhai, Fulani, Wolof, Tuareg and other peoples –- but what will it take to reach all 1,600 peoples and tribes of West Africa? And what will it take to reach the world for Christ?
God is moving in our world, using natural disasters, war, political upheaval and other changes to open closed doors for “Last Frontier” missionaries -– people with a pioneer spirit who take the Gospel to difficult places in spite of hardship and isolation.
God is doing His part in stirring world events to create a spiritual hunger in people who are searching for hope only Jesus can provide. God is calling out missionaries from our churches, but will we give to support them and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth?
For the last three years Southern Baptists have stepped up to a new dimension of giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, but there is a price for gaining access and placing missionaries among more unreached people groups. Penetrating lostness can be directly linked to missions giving. Without the support, missionaries cannot go.
One hundred percent of the Lottie Moon offering is used in the overseas budget. Meeting the goal of $150 million in 2006 can assure significant progress in our task of reaching the world. Whenever you read of missionaries at work where God is at work, realize it is because we pray and we give. We are all a part of reaching the world.
Jerry Rankin is president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.