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IMB trustees OK record budget for mushrooming overseas needs

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–With new fields opening worldwide and record numbers of people hearing God’s call to overseas missions, trustees of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board wrestled with how to stretch limited financial resources far enough to cover all the needs.
The trustees met Nov. 15-17 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sacramento, Calif. In the end, trustees approved a record $256.6 million budget but had to make a $3 million special appropriation from board reserves for special nonrecurring projects — $4 million less than what missionaries said they needed.
The budget included $226.4 million for operating expenses, $14.4 million for capital outlays and $811,885 for special contingencies. A $15 million “challenge” budget also was approved.
The $15 million “challenge” budget would become operative if Southern Baptist giving to the 1999 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering reaches its $125 million goal. The offering last year raised slightly more than $101 million.
While board officials say they desperately need the $125 million goal to meet growing needs overseas, they told trustees they cannot automatically assume Southern Baptists will increase their Lottie Moon giving this year by the nearly 25 percent needed.
Trustees also approved a change in the board’s overseas capital fund, allowing 35 percent of the yearly allocation from that fund to be used to rent housing for missionaries. In the past, the fund could only be used for purchasing housing and automobiles. Board officials said the change was necessary because buying housing is often not possible or economically wise in some of the new areas around the world where board personnel are working.
Trustees also decided to delay until January action on a $22.8 million request for expanding the Missionary Learning Center in Rockville, VA. The expansion is necessary because of the swelling numbers of new missionary candidates. The total number of IMB missionaries is expected to top 5,000 by mid-2000. Five years ago, the total number hovered around 4,000.
About 18 percent of the 5,000 are appointed for two years, which creates a constant need for training replacements.
On Nov. 17, at the close of the meeting, the board appointed 55 new career and associate missionaries, bringing the total in that category to 295 — the second-highest number ever appointed in one year.
Trustees also terminated missionary Troy V. Haas of Kenya for “failure to maintain a lifestyle in keeping with the expectations of the International Mission Board.” Haas’ work among the Turkana people group had been widely featured in board products.
IMB President Jerry Rankin and other senior administrators told trustees that trying to balance rising needs overseas against known available financial resources had created one of the most difficult budgeting processes they had ever experienced.
Trustees passed a resolution asking IMB staff to move up to September from November the presentation of a “rough draft” of the 2001 budget so they would have longer to study that budget.
At the end of the business meeting, several IMB regional leaders shared their perspectives on new ways personnel in their areas are seeking to reach the lost.
Larry Gay told about connecting churches in cities in the United States and western South America “to reach a common objective,” such as ministry to an unreached people group in the region.
Robin Hadaway told about training missionaries in eastern South America “in creative ways of church planting,” including cell church planting and pioneer evangelism.
Eddie Cox told about working in “gateway cities” where as many as 100 different nationalities live in such locales as London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Madrid in Western Europe.
Clyde Meador said earthquakes and cyclones in central and southern Asia have opened doors for introducing non-Christians to the Lord.
Gordon Fort said the entire southern Africa region is a “harvest field,” where people are coming to Christ in record numbers.

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  • Louis Moore