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Largest-ever increase for Lottie Moon projecte

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptists have given the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions its largest dollar increase in history, according to a forecast released March 11. Lottie Moon receipts are expected to total $102.6 million when the books close in May, surpassing $100 million for the first time in history. That would be the offering’s fifth straight record year — and an increase from 1996 of $9.5 million, about 10 percent. That’s the highest percentage increase since 1988.
“This phenomenal level of giving reflects the priority of Southern
Baptists to be on mission with God around the world,” said board President Jerry Rankin. The entire offering will support the board’s overseas budget.
It would be the first time in the past 16 offerings that Southern
Baptists surpassed their goal. The goal has remained at $100 million for the last three years.
“These resources will allow us to be effectively involved in the accelerating harvest,” he said. “We praise God for his faithfulness .. We can press forward in reaching the last frontier of fulfilling the Great Commission with strategies that will impact every nation and people group.”
The yearly forecast — historically very accurate — is based in part on data from selected state Baptist conventions. All show an increase in Lottie Moon giving this year.
If the forecast proves accurate, Lottie Moon receipts will have increased by $19.7 million — nearly a fourth — since 1993. The 1997 offering would bring the cumulative total of Lottie Moon receipts to nearly $1.8 billion, on target to exceed $2 billion by Christmas 2000. That cumulative total hit $1 billion only nine years ago as the 1988 offering filtered in from churches.
Modern technologies and reports by volunteers traveling to and from mission fields have increased available information “about unreached people groups in the world . present(ing) the challenge to Christians to be personally involved in missions through giving, praying and going,” said Dellanna O’Brien, executive director of Southern Baptists’ Woman’s Missionary Union. “We rejoice in the faithfulness of Southern Baptists.”
WMU started the annual missions offering 110 years ago. “We are constantly in awe of God’s activity in the difficult places of the world,” added O’Brien, a former IMB missionary to Indonesia for eight years. “The large offering will make it possible for more people groups to know of his great love.”
This year’s offering would provide $94.5 million to the board’s overseas operating budget and $5.5 million for missionary capital funds, which pay for such things as housing and cars on the field. The boost in capital funds is badly needed, as spiraling costs overseas have required more and more of the board’s budget to pay for missionary support, Rankin said.
How to use a $2.6 million excess over the goal would be determined by trustees after the books close. “Exceeding the goal catapults us into the 21st century of missions advance,” Rankin said.
The offering, generally collected in churches during December, should fund nearly half (47 percent) of this year’s budget of $210.8 million. The rest will come from Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan, the Cooperative Program, and other income, such as investments and hunger and relief receipts.

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  • Marty Croll