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The Open Door

 

I recently received communication from Terry Sharp with the International Mission Board, regarding the final accounting of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions for the year 2006. I am happy to report to you that Southern Baptists exceeded the 2006 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal with the largest gift ever given in the 118-year history of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This is great news for Southern Baptist ministries across the world.

After the books were closed on May 31, the final tally reached $150,178,098.06. This represented an 8.9 percent increase over last year’s offering which totaled $137.9 million.

Georgia Baptists participated in helping Southern Baptists reach and exceed the 2006 goal by giving $11,539,816 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in supporting Southern Baptists’ worldwide ministries. Georgia Baptists are to be commended for their generous support of our missionaries. There is a direct relationship between the amount of money that is given and the number of missionaries who are able to serve. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supports the work of more than 5,100 missionaries across the globe. This year’s offering is expected to have a significant impact on the number of personnel sent to the field. IMB leadership anticipates sending 200 extra missionaries over the next two years. This is in addition to the normal appointment number of missionaries.

Dr. Jerry Rankin said, “Because we are a missionary-sending organization, the number of missionaries we are able to send is directly related to the gifts we receive from Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Not only will this unprecedented amount enable us to send more missionaries, it demonstrates the heart of Southern Baptists for missions and the high priority they give to reaching a lost world. More unreached people groups will have access to the Gospel, more people will be won and baptized, more churches planted and leaders discipled and trained around the world because of such a generous level of giving.”

I was grateful that in the International Mission Board’s press release about the Lottie Moon Offering, Dr. Rankin gave credit to the Woman’s Missionary Union for their support and loyal friendship, which contributed to the offering’s success. Personally, I have wondered through the years where Southern Baptists would be in our missions program if it were not for the WMU who historically have provided outstanding missions education through our churches, as well as promotion for our mission offerings. Certainly, in Georgia, we are uniquely blessed to have the leadership of Barbara Curnutt as Executive Director of our Georgia Baptist WMU. I would like to extend a special word of appreciation to Barbara and to all the ladies who serve so faithfully in support of our missionaries through our local churches.

I am confident that we are encouraged in our giving through the wonderful reports that have come from the field. Last year, the International Mission Board reported that 104 new people groups were engaged with the Gospel, 23,486 churches were started, and 475,072 people were baptized.

Good news serves to encourage us to keep on keeping on in God’s Kingdom work. This is not the time for Georgia Baptists and Southern Baptists to let up in our commitment to supporting missions through the Cooperative Program and through our special mission offerings. The more devoted to missions we become, the more people will be reached across the world for Jesus Christ. Yes, there really is a direct correlation between what we give in mission support, the number of missionaries we are able to send, and the number of people who are reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That fact alone should be sufficient to cause us to want to do more than we have ever done before.