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Good news for 2017!

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   With all the resetting going on in our mission organization of late, I confess some concern as to  how the organizational reset plans were going to work out.  I was concerned as to how it would affect those, who I have become friends with through my son, who opted to take the volunteer retirement option and how their retirement would affect those continuing to serve. 

   I have been keeping up with my friends who have returned home and are busy resetting their lives here in the United States after serving on the mission field for several years, and I am encouraged by their reports. Thanks to technology, my own missionaries can stay in contact with these seasoned missionaries via long distance to benefit from the wisdom they have gleaned over the years on the field. 

  Therefore, I am grateful to pass along to you this updated report from the IMB concerning the organizational reset process.

Thanks to Southern Baptists, IMB in ‘much healthier financial position’

RICHMOND, Va.—The International Mission Board expects to operate a balanced budget for 2017 due to its 2015-16 organizational reset processes and the generosity of Southern Baptists who have given sacrificially, IMB President David Platt told the organization’s board of trustees during its February 22-24 meeting in Richmond, Virginia.

“IMB is now in a much healthier financial position,” Platt said. “Due to increased giving from Southern Baptist churches, Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving are trending upward.”

Click on the following link for more details:

http://imb.org/updates/storyview-4471.aspx#.VuG454Rb_FI

How the economic downturn is affecting our missionaries, and how we can pray for them.

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During my time in the African bush, I met a wonderful missionary couple. I have asked them if I could share their concerns over the recent economic crisis concerning our missionaries and they gave their consent! Please read an excerpt from their newsletter regarding this subject, paying special attention to the prayer requests listed at the end.
The Financial Crisis at the IMB
The economic downturn of the last few years obviously hit the IMB very hard. You have likely read the news of the severe moves that the IMB is having to make in order to keep as many of our missionaries on the field as possible. This comes at a time of unprecedented access to the most difficult and hard-to-reach peoples of the earth. Voluntary Retirement Incentives are being offered to those who are over 50 years old and have at least five years of IMB experience. As we heard Dr. Platt and other top leaders announce this to missionaries and staff, you could hear the catch in their voices. (In case you’ve not read it, here’s the link to the open letter from Dr. Platt to Southern Baptists: Dr. Platt’s letter) Asking for our most experienced, well-connected, and culturally adapted personnel to voluntarily retire is certainly not the “A Plan,” but it was clear to us that our leadership has considered alternatives and believes this drastic move to be necessary at this time.
The Exciting Future of the IMB
This decision DOES NOT in any way dampen the vision for creating opportunities of service and pathways for 100,000 new overseas missionaries! We have worked with some of the “newer” missionaries and have met some of those who have been appointed recently. Their commitment to Christ, and their zeal to share the Gospel and the Word of God to the Unreached is so challenging! We are excited to know that our own gifts to the CP through our local church and those given directly to the LMCO are being used to support these men and women who are joining our experienced field personnel! As IMB missionaries, we are indeed “faith missionaries,” trusting God to provide through Southern Baptists who will passionately support IMB missions now and in the future! We are convinced that the best years of the IMB are ahead!
What now?
-Please consider today to be a strategic time to give to the IMB! Your timely gifts will be appreciated more now than ever before!
-Please pray for the IMB leadership as they seek to obey the Lord as well as meet the expectations of Southern Baptists by keeping our missionaries on the field.
-Please pray for all the IMB missionaries who are seeking God’s will in their decision about their future employment.
-Please pray specifically for us, as we strive to discern God’s best for us at this time. The reduction plan means that 1 out of 6 employees must find employment elsewhere. What does God want us to do? Jesus’ parable in Luke 19:6-10 reminds us that we are the Lord’s unworthy slaves and our desire is to be obedient to our Master. We rest knowing that His plans for us are always for His glory and our best!
-Please pray for us following Epaphras’ example in Colossians 4:12: that we would stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. We can’t wait to see what HE does next!

Bad News, Good News, and a Personal Challenge!

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 http://www.imb.org/main/news/details.asp?LanguageID=1709&StoryID=10757

If you go to the above link, you will read an article that should intrigue you.  And as my post title implies, it contains bad news, good news, and a challenge.  So, how about me sharing some of my impressions concerning this article?

For those of you reading this post who may not know her, here’s a little info on Lottie Moon!


Lottie Moon – the namesake of the international missions offering (image above) – has become something of a legend to us.  But in her time Lottie was anything but an untouchable hero.  In fact, she was like today’s missionaries.  She was a hard-working, deep-loving Southern Baptist who labored tirelessly so her people group could know Jesus.

Why was the offering named for this early China missionary?Throughout her career, Lottie Moon wrote numerous letters home, urging Southern Baptists to greater missions involvement and support. One of those letters triggered Southern Baptists’ first Christmas offering for international missions – enough to send three new missionaries to China.

http://www.imb.org/main/give/page.asp?StoryID=5524&LanguageID=1709

Now that you know what I’m talking about when I refer to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, let’s continue.

As you know my son and his lovely wife are now serving as foreign missionaries.  Obviously, I have taken on a much greater appreciation for the L.M. Christmas offering. When the team they work with, first moved into their quarters they had no electricity!  Try to imagine having a 4 yr. old, a 2 yr old, and an infant in one family unit, and a newly pregnant (first time) mom in the 2nd family unit, all living together without electricity!  Difficult, I know, but here’s where Lottie Moon comes in to save the day.  After living like this for about 5 months a crew comes in and installs solar panels and voila’ electricity.  Thank you Lottie Moon!

The vehicles the two families use are provided by Lottie Moon Offerings as well.  Can you understand why I love Lottie Moon?

Now, here’s the point I’d like to make regarding the link posted.

 The Bad News:

Around Christmas time every year, an offering is taken up whose main function is to provide for our foreign missionaries.  You know, like pay their salaries, insurance, provide what they need for ministry, etc.  We do this as Southern Baptist so our missionaries don’t have to worry about raising these funds themselves and can focus on their ministry instead.

Well, in 2011 the goal of $175 million was set for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  However, the goal was not reached.  What did that mean for our missionaries?  Cutting back, obviously!  But sadly it also meant that some of our people who were hoping to be appointed as missionaries didn’t get sent.  Why?  Simple, not enough money!  For example:

While supporting missionaries overseas becomes more expensive each year, the troubled U.S. economy has affected church offerings. Last year, IMB trustees were forced to curb appointments of new missionaries and suspend two short-term missionary programs entirely, initiating a gradual reduction in the IMB’s global missionary force. The reduction eventually will lower missionary numbers from the high of approximately 5,600 (reached in 2009) to 5,000 through natural attrition — completions of service, retirements, and resignations.

“We are grieved that budget limitations will force us to continue to restrict new missionaries being appointed,” Rankin said earlier this year. “This is not just a disappointment to individuals and families called of God to serve overseas, but it means many unreached people groups will be deprived of hearing the Gospel yet another year. 

http://www.sbclife.org/Articles/2010/12/sla8.asp

HOWEVER, THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS:

RICHMOND, Va. —“Extremely grateful.” That’swhat IMB President Tom Elliff is saying about Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, which reached $146.8 million last year — the fourth highest total in the offering’s 123-year history.

Now I’d say that’s definitely a step in the right direction, wouldn’t you?  And for all of us parents whose children are foreign missionaries, this gives us hope that our loved ones are going to be cared for and their desire (and ours) that they reach more people for Christ will be fulfilled.

NOW I’M OFFERING YOU A PERSONAL CHALLENGE!

Ever since my son became interested in missions, I have been praying this simple prayer:

Dear Lord, Please help our SB churches not to be slack in their giving to missions, to be faithful in what they do give, and to have the faith to increase the amount they give. (I pray this for home missions and foreign mission offerings.)

Imagine my joy when I read the article that indicated SB had increased their giving to LM in 2011!

But after reading that article, I’ve felt impressed to add to my prayer the following:

Please God, help SB Churches to meet their goal of $175 million in 2012 for the Lottie Moon Christmas offering!

Think about it–if individuals will commit to increasing their giving, then the obvious results will be that our SB churches will increase their giving.  AND OUR PRAYERS WILL BE ANSWERED! ! ! !  But remember,

IT STARTS WITH US!

So, Pray and Give, so they can Go!

Note:  “They” may become “You” someday!  That’ll make the LM Christmas Offering personal!

Reaching the world for Christ! (It’s Doable!)

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Recently, my son and I had a conversation about the struggle the IMB is having from a financial standpoint of reaching the lost for Christ.  After that conversation I did a little research and I’d like to share here what I discovered about the state of giving to missions of our Southern Baptist Churches!  The first bit of research was gleaned from the following website: http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?id=293

FINDINGS

The International Mission Board has made news repeatedly this year because of its decision to delay the deployment of new missionaries who are ready to be sent to strategic mission assignments.  Approximately 100 candidates have been deferred to next year or put on hold.  The number of new short-term personnel also will be reduced by 30% this year.  To divert more funds to the field, 61 full-time and part-time positions were eliminated.  Of those positions that were eliminated, 37 home office staff members lost their jobs. Perhaps the most significant action to reduce products and services will be suspending publication of the IMB’s flagship magazine, theCOMMISSION. 

STARTLING FACTS RE GIVING TO MISSIONS

Perhaps the most telling statistic for the near future of mission funding for Southern Baptists is the rapid decline in percentage giving through the Cooperative Program.

From an average of 10.5% in the 80s, the percentage has plummeted to 7.39% in 2002. As a percentage of undesignated offerings, local churches have decreased their Cooperative Program giving by 30%

ANALYSIS

Increased local church expenditures due to rising health insurance costs, expansion of facilities, and increasing sizes of church staffs have squeezed out gifts to missions.

* * * *

Now, keep in mind that less money translates into less people who will be able to hear about Christ.  Personally, I believe that God has blessed America and especially America’s churches as He has financially, so that we can fund the effort of missions.  (You know, reaching a lost world for Christ!)  But somewhere along the way, as churches and Christian individuals, we have forgotten this and have consumed a greater proportion of these blessings upon ourselves than we should.  So when you pray and ask God to help you be a responsible steward of the blessings He has given you, consider these facts:

Facts about lostness

  • 6,744 people groups are considered unreached (less than 2 percent profess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; as reported April 2011)
  • 3,789 people groups are not engaged at all with the Gospel (as reported April 2011)
  • More than half the world’s people live in cities. Most unreached people groups likely are represented in the world’s urban centers.
  • 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22 percent of the world’s population

“Facts about lostness” statistics taken from:

http://www.imb.org/main/give/page.asp?StoryID=5412&LanguageID=1709

 * * * * *

HERE’S AN IDEA!

An online article that I read suggested that if every church would increase their gifts to the Cooperative Program by 1%, over 100 million dollars would be generated.  Go to this website to read more about this idea:

(http://www.sbclife.org/Articles/2011/10/SLA9.asp)

* * * *

 That’s just one idea, folks.  Can you imagine (whew! my head is spinning) if all 45,000 churches began seriously praying for God to show them ways they could give more to missions so that more people would hear about Christ, then I think we might experience something akin to the miracle of giving found in Ex. 36:4-7, “

 4-5 All the artisans who were at work making everything involved in constructing the Sanctuary came, one after another, to Moses, saying, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing this work that God has commanded us to do!”  6-7 So Moses sent out orders through the camp: “Men! Women! No more offerings for the building of the Sanctuary!”

   The people were ordered to stop bringing offerings! There was plenty of material for all the work to be done. Enough and more than enough. (MSG)

! let me wrap up this post by sharing a quote from the website from Facts about Lostness. And as you read it, focus on this:  “the task is doable”

There is much work to be done. With more than 45,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, the task is doable, but it will take all of us – starting with our own church!  and I might add–starting with ourselves!

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