I am still overwhelmed with joy and praise to God as I think of Southern Baptists giving $136.2 million to the 2003 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. It represents the largest dollar increase in the offering's 115-year history. But more importantly, it enabled the International Mission Board to appoint more missionaries to impact a lost world with the gospel.
Thank you, Southern Baptists! You felt God's desire for every soul to know Him and give Him the honor He is due. You were distressed that qualified missionaries were being held back for lack of finances. And you responded with a vision and passion only God's Spirit can inspire! We are especially grateful to Woman's Missionary Union for their wholehearted partnership in encouraging Southern Baptists to step up to this tremendous challenge.
Because you gave so unselfishly, the Light of the World is penetrating more darkness than ever before. But the need to send more workers into the harvest could not be more critical.
We have a particular burden for South Asia, which includes India and six surrounding countries. It's home to almost 1.4 billion people — mostly Hindu or Muslim. Multitudes die every day without ever hearing about salvation in Jesus.
Yet God is at work there in great power. In one country, about 165,000 new believers were baptized in 2003 — including more than 160,000 former Muslims!
Missionaries are relying on God to provide support through Southern Baptists so they can continue to nurture such movements in South Asia and throughout the world. We cannot afford to allow our level of giving to regress.
The goal for the 2004 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $150 million, which will require a 10 percent increase over last year's phenomenal level of giving.
Please join me in accepting the challenge of this lofty goal that is worthy of the Great Commission challenge our Lord has given us. The task is enormous, but God's Spirit is moving. May He move in our hearts as He is moving to touch a lost world.