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Lottie Moon offering records new high at $101.7 million

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptists collected their largest-ever offering for missions during the 1998 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. When the books closed May 31, total receipts for the offering were $101,713,066.69, a sixth year of record receipts.
IMB President Jerry Rankin praised God for his faithfulness and the dedication of Southern Baptists who gave.
“While we did not meet our $110 million goal in 1998, we praise God for the largest amount ever received for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” Rankin said.
Southern Baptists surpassed the $100 million mark for the first time with the 1997 offering. The 1998 offering is an increase of more than $1.6 million over 1997.
Every dollar received through the offering goes to support the board’s mission work overseas.
The record offering is added to a growing list of “first-evers” the board is experiencing. The 885 new missionaries sent overseas in 1998 represented a 33.4 percent increase over 1997 — more than double the highest net growth of any previous year in the Southern Baptist International Mission Board’s 154-year history.
And the record numbers of new missionaries are entering fields where God is drawing people to Christ in record numbers. The 333,034 new believers baptized in 1998 marked a 13.1 percent increase over 1997’s total. The year also saw 4,223 new churches, a 25.4 percent increase over 1997, and 31,567 new preaching points (potential future churches), a 41.7 percent jump.
More than $102 million of the $110 million goal had been earmarked for overseas operations in the 1999 budget. The remaining $8 million budgeted for overseas capital needs will be unfunded. IMB trustees will discuss how to handle the $286,933 shortfall in the overseas operating budget during their July meeting.
“Having experienced unprecedented net growth in missionary appointments, we will have to explore other contingencies for providing the needed support and budget resources this year,” Rankin said.
A goal of $125 million for the 1999 offering is well within sight, though, Rankin believes. “We are confident our churches will redouble their efforts to reach the $125 million goal in 1999 in order to enter the new millennium with the resources needed to make a global impact.”
The offering, generally collected in churches during December, funds nearly half the IMB’s budget. The rest comes from Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan, the Cooperative Program, and other income, such as investments and hunger and relief receipts.