I will never forget the horrible realization three years ago: we would have to defer missionary appointments due to lack of financial resources. After all, we are a missionary-sending agency of the largest evangelical denomination in the world with unlimited potential resources.
Each of the previous two years more than one thousand new missionaries had been sent around the world, and more candidates were in the process of appointment than ever before. The critical nature of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering became evident as never before. It is not just providing additional support beyond the Cooperative Program to underwrite the budget of the International Mission Board. It is the means for supporting God-called missionaries to take the Gospel to a lost world.
We, in America, tend to take our salvation experience for granted as most of us have heard the Gospel all our lives. Yet, hundreds of people groups have never had a Christian witness. There is no church in their town or neighborhood and maybe not in their entire region.
That's why we give: to send and support missionaries to reach the whole world. This year's international missions emphasis is on West Africa, a region that desperately needs more missionary personnel. You will read about the Wolof, Songhai, Tuareg, Fulani, and others — but what will it take to reach all sixteen hundred tribes and peoples of West Africa?
God is moving in our world, using natural disasters, war, political upheaval, and other changes to open closed doors. In these articles you will read of "Last Frontier" missionaries — people with a pioneer spirit who take the Gospel to difficult places in spite of hardship and isolation.
What will it take to reach the world for Christ? God is doing His part in stirring world events to create a spiritual hunger in people who are searching for hope only Jesus can provide. God is calling out missionaries from our churches, but will we give to support them and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth?
For the last three years Southern Baptists have stepped up to a new dimension of giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, but there is a price for gaining access and placing missionaries among unreached people groups. Penetrating lostness can be directly linked to missions giving. Without the support, missionaries cannot go.
One hundred percent of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is used in the overseas budget. Meeting the goal of $150 million in 2006 can assure significant progress in our task of reaching the world. As you read of the missionaries and how God is working, realize it is because we pray and we give. We are all a part of reaching the world.
The sacrificial and generous spirit of Southern Baptists is amazing. Because of the faithful giving of tithes and offerings by our people and unselfish Cooperative Program giving by our churches, the SBC Cooperative Program set another historic record. For the first time, the annual receipts exceeded $200 million dollars! One-half of the receipts, or approximately $100 million, was distributed to the International Mission Board. But that's not all — there's more! Southern Baptists also contribute directly to global missions by giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Each time the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon receipts increase, we send more missionaries to other lands and cultures with the love of Jesus in their hearts and the Name of Jesus on their lips. God bless you for the sacrificial gifts you continue to give so that those who have never heard the Gospel will hear, many for the first time, that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Dr. Morris H. Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the SBC Executive Committee
Over the last few years Southern Baptists have responded generously in response to the ministry and evangelism efforts in the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm encouraging Southern Baptists to continue that pattern by giving sacrificially and joyfully to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year. As you know, it provides almost one half of the budget for the International Mission Board. Along with the vital connection to the Cooperative Program, it provides support which is truly making an impact in our world. I recently attended a meeting of the IMB trustees in which we heard some exciting news about significant increases in church planting, baptisms, and overall growth around the world. If there was ever a time to support the work of our IMB, it is now!
Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, South Carolina