Lottie Moon offering hits record $154 millioncomment (0)
June 12, 2014
Southern Baptists gave an unprecedented $154 million to the 2013 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, breaking the record for the largest total in the offering’s 125-year history.
The 2013 offering, finalized June 5, reached $154,057,852.36. The total represents an increase of nearly $4.8 million over 2012, or 3.2 percent. It tops the previous record, $150.4 million in 2007, by more than $3.6 million and marks the fourth increase since 2008.
“This gives us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible generosity of Southern Baptists over many years,” said International Mission Board (IMB) President Tom Elliff. “The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering represents well over half of our budget each year, so those who give sacrificially and out of concern for the lost can be assured that an enormous portion of all that happens overseas can be directly tied to their support.”
Wanda Lee, executive director of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), which promotes the offering in partnership with IMB, also expressed gratitude.
“How exciting that Southern Baptists would give the largest amount ever to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering on the 125th anniversary of both the first offering for international missions and WMU,” she said.
‘Stimulating the missionary spirit’
“In 1888 when WMU was founded, it was for the purpose of ‘stimulating the missionary spirit’ and ‘collecting funds’ to support the work of missionaries around the globe. We are grateful for the response of our churches as they embrace both personal missions involvement and sacrificial giving so the story of Jesus may be shared with all who have yet to hear,” Lee said.
While the total fell short of the $175 million goal, the new record is good news for more than 4,800 Southern Baptist missionaries worldwide who depend on the offering to fund their efforts to spread the gospel. Named for Southern Baptists’ most famous missionary, the Lottie Moon offering — and Southern Baptists’ regular giving through the Cooperative Program (CP) — funds missionary salaries, housing, medical care, children’s education, field transportation and other expenses. Supporting one missionary overseas costs an average of $140 per day. Every penny of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goes to the IMB overseas budget, which directly supports missionaries and their work.
Allows ‘us to chase the darkness’
The offering does far more than pay for basic needs, however. It provides the “resources that enable us to chase the darkness,” Elliff said.
That means helping missionaries and their national partners go into areas untouched by the gospel, engage people groups with no believers or Scriptures, start churches and make disciples. Missionaries and their ministry partners communicated the gospel to more than 1.6 million people, led more than 235,000 people to faith in Christ, baptized more than 114,000 new believers and started thousands of churches and believer groups that will become churches, according to IMB’s 2013 annual statistical report (reflecting 2012 year-end statistics).
The task ahead for Southern Baptists and other missions-hearted Christians is huge. Of the world’s 11,000-plus distinct people groups, more than 6,500 are considered unreached (fewer than 2 percent of the population identifying as evangelical Christian). They include more than half the world’s population. More than 3,000 of those unreached people groups also are unengaged, having no church-planting strategy among them at all.
David Steverson, IMB vice president for finance, said, “Southern Baptists are a generous people and are concerned about the world. Southern Baptists determine how many missionaries they will send. Your IMB is fully committed to being a good steward of every penny that Southern Baptists entrust to us for the support of their missionaries.”