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Reaching ‘97 Lottie Moon goal allowed expanded reach to world’s

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Because Southern Baptists gave sacrificially and reached the $100 million goal for the 1997 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions, missionaries are launching strategic initiatives to take the good news of God’s love to a lost and dying world.
That means people in many parts of the world will hear the gospel who would not have heard it otherwise.
And by the same token, generous and sacrificial gifts toward this year’s $110 million goal will give the International Mission Board the resources it needs to keep sending out record numbers of new missionaries and focus even more resources on billions of people who live in spiritual darkness.
“On behalf of all IMB missionaries and the world’s unreached people groups, I want to express gratitude to Southern Baptists for reaching the 1997 Lottie Moon offering goal,” said Avery Willis, the board’s senior vice president for overseas services. “Because of your generous support, your missionaries are strategically prepared to take the gospel to an unprecedented number of unreached people groups.”
Missionaries are implementing about a dozen evangelistic “impact strategy requests” that would still be on the drawing board if not for Southern Baptist generosity, said John White, associate vice president of overseas operations.
Among those new projects:
— Five base camps in a rugged mountain area of southern Africa from which missionaries will travel by horseback to take the “Jesus” film to Basotho people living in an extremely isolated region. The goal: 50 cell groups that will take the gospel to other Basotho in the region.
— Southern Baptist volunteers and missionaries from Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay will conduct a four-day open-air evangelistic campaign in Salvador, Brazil, during the annual “Carnaval,” a Mardi Gras event in which more than a million people converge on the city for a round-the-clock street orgy. The goal: street preaching and evangelism in nine locations each day to thousands of people, resulting in 2,000 decisions for Christ.
— Five new strategy coordinator interns have begun efforts to reach five people groups in East Asia that have no access to the gospel. These new workers are studying their people group, learning the language, networking with prayer partners and sharing Christ. The goal: a movement of God’s spirit in each people group that sparks the growth and multiplication of indigenous congregations.
— A new “rapid engagement center” where new missionaries can be trained for the task of reaching one of 50 least-evangelized people groups in Southeast Asia. The center will offer intensive workshops, leadership training and provide a base for people group research. The goal: reaching 50 people groups with little access to the gospel.
The $100,064,318.10 Southern Baptists gave to the 1997 Lottie Moon offering made it the largest in history and the fifth straight record year. IMB trustees were able to commit $1.55 million for the impact strategy requests, as well as $1.45 million for missionary salary increases.
In addition, the IMB is about to close a sixth consecutive record year of missionary appointments, pushing the number of overseas personnel past the 4,500 mark.
Mission leaders had planned another $3 million in evangelistic projects, noted IMB President Jerry Rankin. “Reaching the 1997 goal made it possible for us to enter new people groups that previously have not had access to the gospel,” he said. “But we also had budgeted other initiatives to reach new people groups and implement high-cost urban strategies that will be a priority if we exceed the goal this year.”
The Lottie Moon offering, generally collected in churches during December, funded nearly half (47 percent) of the board’s 1998 budget of $210.8 million. No offering receipts are used for stateside administration or promotion, and all of it goes to support and enable missionaries, as it always has since Lottie Moon sent her first appeal in 1887 for two more missionaries to join her in China.
“As new fields are opened and God gives us opportunities to place personnel in previously closed and restricted countries and people groups, additional capital funds are desperately needed to establish a presence,” Rankin said. “The entire $110 million goal for the 1998 offering has been budgeted to provide for these needs and continue the pace of missionary appointments.”
“God’s ultimate purpose is to bring all the peoples of the world to himself,” Willis said. “The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is one of the most strategic mission investments any believers can make.
“I look forward to seeing how God is going to move in the hearts of Southern Baptists this year. I challenge you to join God in his mission. Your support will have an eternal impact on reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

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  • Mark Kelly