[SLIDESHOW=48162,48163,48164]RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Southern Baptists’ contributions to support international missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering are 3.75 percent ahead of the May 2017 offering totals, according to a report by Rodney Freeman, IMB treasurer and vice president of support services.
At the end of May, IMB had received $142,683,654 so far for the 2017-2018 campaign, which began Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30. This total is $5,161,874 (3.75 percent) ahead of last year’s LMCO receipts to support Southern Baptists’ 3,551 international missionaries.
The total represents money received by the International Mission Board or postmarked by the close of the last business day of May 2018 and includes receipts from the SBC Executive Committee, state conventions, churches and individuals.
Freeman also reported that at the end of May, IMB had received $66,840,768 in Cooperative Program (CP) funding for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which started Oct. 1. This total is $1,014,337 — 1.54 percent ahead of last year in gifts from Southern Baptist churches channeled through state Baptist conventions.
A vision for the nations
Gifts from churches such as Houston’s First Baptist Church support Southern Baptist missionaries around the world who work to take the Gospel to those who have never heard it. Houston’s First has contributed $1.2 million toward the 2017-2018 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Their gift joins with the gifts of other churches to make it possible for missionaries like Texans Lindsay Mikeska, from Houston’s First, and her husband Shane, who serve in London,  to reach unreached people around the world.
“I’m very grateful for the generosity of First Baptist Houston and the vision and leadership of pastor Gregg Matte, and the ministry of their mission pastor William Taylor,” said Edgar Aponte, IMB’s vice president of mobilization. “It’s encouraging to see their commitment to engage the nations, not only through prayer and giving but also by raising missionaries like Lindsay Mikeska.”
Contributions from church members across the Southern Baptist Convention also make it possible for Texans Todd and Anne Beel to serve in Mexico City . The Beels are part of a 12-member team who often contemplate how they even start to reach a city of more than 28 million with the Gospel.
“This is a massive city,” Beel, the team leader, said. “There are unreached people and places within it, and we want to take the Gospel to those places.”
The team is seeing it start to happen already, and they’re seeing new believers catch a vision for reaching the nations. That’s exactly what they pray for. “Because this is a world-class city, it has connections around the world and people are coming and going every day, so this city has a reach worldwide,” Beel said.
Each time an airplane lands, the vast city opens its arms to a little more diversity, and each time the task of reaching them for Christ gets a little bigger. But that’s why the team is compelled to be there.
“Those are people coming and going all day long for business, work, sports and study,” Beel said. “It’s kind of like, ‘Who has the Lord brought to this city today who needs to be reached with the Gospel?’ Many of them are coming from unreached people groups around the world.”
And as those planes leave again, they could be taking the Gospel back with them, he said. That’s the hope of the team, a dozen people working together to equip new believers to take the Gospel to unreached pockets of Mexico City and the world.
Above and beyond
Houston’s First also gave $162,000 to fully fund several additional specific opportunities above and beyond their LMCO gift. Those included a program for children living with their mothers in a women’s prison as well as a Syrian refugee response program, both in Central Asia, and a girls’ shelter in South Asia.
The gift related to the women’s prison will allow Southern Baptist workers to open and support a kindergarten inside the prison, allowing mothers to take skills and education classes while their children receive care. The gift focused on refugees allows field personnel to continue to operate a community center in a major urban city. The ministry of the community center helps Syrian refugees rebuild their lives as field personnel meet physical needs and share the Gospel.
The church’s gift for South Asia will allow a girls’ shelter to continue its ministry to beggar girls and their families for several more years. The center provides an education for girls who were raised to be street beggars. Their skills training allows them to break the cycle of begging and poverty.
One worker wrote in response to the Lottie Moon gifts, “Our desire is to see the lives of [people here] wholly transformed as they encounter followers of Jesus loving them and treating them with dignity while pointing them toward the hope that surpasses their immediate physical well-being. Your gracious gift further enables us to minister in word and deed, and for that we are grateful.”
Still time to give
The LMCO campaign year historically ran from June 1 to May 31 each year, but that campaign year did not align with IMB’s fiscal year, which runs January 1 to December 31. To help alleviate confusion, IMB finance leaders, in conjunction with the board of trustees, proposed to align the fiscal year and the LMCO campaign to October 1 through September 30. Messengers voted to approve the fiscal year change during the 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. Therefore, gifts contributed from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018, will apply to the 2017-2018 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
IMB trustees will meet Monday, June 11, in Dallas prior to the SBC annual meeting at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Fort-seven missionary candidates will be presented to trustees during the 2:45-4:15 p.m. session in the Hyatt Regency’s Marsalis Hall B for appointment during the Tuesday evening SBC session.
For information about giving to support the Southern Baptists in London, Mexico City and other hard-to-reach places who are taking the Gospel to people who have never heard it, click here .
Read “Texans Help Mexico City Team Strive for Global Impact” from the Southern Baptist Texan at texanonline.net/archives/5969.