National WMU board focuses on missions supportcomment (0)
January 23, 2014
Raising the bar of missions involvement was the challenge woven throughout national Woman’s Missionary Union’s (WMU) board meeting, Jan. 11–13, at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega. It also was a time to look at missions offerings for the upcoming seasons — approving one mission board’s decision to keep the same goal despite missing it for the past four, and possibly five, years and the other mission board’s decision to reduce its goal by $10 million.
“With Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34 … the bar was raised for those following Jesus,” National WMU President Debby Akerman said in her address. “For the disciples He had called, as well as those who were the unnamed, not yet committed faces in the crowd, Jesus raised the bar of discipleship to a level that would now require wholehearted surrender, sacrifice and service.
“WMU in our churches strengthens every generation to live surrendered to the call of Jesus to follow Him. As WMU guides our churches to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus and to love the world through the heart of God ... they will have a biblical, missional worldview.”
Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), also illustrated the need for raising the bar of missions involvement with some statistics:
75 percent of the world’s population live in areas hostile to the Christian faith.
Almost two-thirds of IMB’s budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMCO). This offering provides funding for the almost 4,900 missionaries on the field. Currently there are 864 strategic need requests, but the current budget will only allow 576 new personnel to be sent. There are missionary candidates in the application process who could fill the remaining strategic needs if more funding was available.
“Missions involvement cannot be limited to a trip or a focus for one week during the week of prayer,” Elliff said. “We must have a furnace of prayer, 365 days a year, to pray for an awakening across our nation and to pray for the nations.”
That’s why IMB officials wanted to keep the LMCO goal at $175 million, he said. Even though the giving of Southern Baptists has been at least $25 million below the goal each year since it moved to $175 million in 2009, Elliff said the goal is not too high.
What is needed is a spiritual awakening, for the eyes of Christians to be opened and hearts to be broken for the lostness in the world, he said.
North American Mission Board officials are taking a different approach with the 2015 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions (AAEO). They requested a $10 million decrease from the 2014 goal of $70 million to $60 million for 2015. NAMB has been $12 to $15 million shy of the goal each year since moving to $70 million in 2010.
“To fund the number of missionaries and church plants needed in North America, we need an Annie offering of $100 million, but setting a goal we miss ... each year is discouraging and it puts a number in peoples’ minds that’s not real,” NAMB spokesperson Mike Ebert told The Alabama Baptist. “Setting the goal at $60 million makes it attainable and lets Southern Baptists know more accurately where the offering currently stands. In the meantime we are working on ways to share the needs with churches in hopes that we can start building toward that $100 million.”
National WMU’s executive board approved both goals as well as adopted a new achievement plan for Royal Ambassadors (RA), called RA Trek, to be available in fall 2014.