By Julie McGowan
RICHMOND — Southern Baptists provided resounding support through the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
Finalized in early June, the 2015 Lottie Moon offering totaled $165.8 million — the highest total in the 127-year history of the offering. The offering surpassed the previous all-time record of $154 million in 2013 by $11.8 million. The 2014 Lottie Moon offering totaled just over $153 million.
Through June 7, Tennessee Baptists have contributed $10,726,904 to the Lottie Moon offering. The amount is approximately 10 percent ahead of last year. The Tennessee Baptist Convention will continue receiving LMCO gifts through November of this year.
Vickie Anderson, president of Tennessee WMU, expressed appreciation to Tennessee Baptists for their commitment to reaching the nations for Christ. “The need for increased financial support was great and the response from Tennessee Baptist churches was amazing as together we gave 10 percent more than we did the year before,” Anderson said.
“Southern Baptists have exhibited their commitment to God’s mission through these gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” said IMB President David Platt. “Especially after a year in which we have walked through many challenges together, the support Southern Baptists have shown through this offering will not only sustain but also encourage the thousands of missionaries sent from Southern Baptist churches who are spreading the gospel right now. As an IMB family, on behalf of unreached people around the world, we are deeply grateful for the generosity of Southern Baptists who have given for God’s glory among the nations.”
Wanda Lee, executive director/treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union, which promotes the offering in partnership with IMB, expressed her gratitude for the gifts.
“With the inception of the first offering for international missions in 1888,” Lee said, “Southern Baptists were challenged to pray and give sacrificially so those who had not heard the Gospel might have that opportunity. When Lottie Moon saw the depth of lostness in China and pled for help, churches responded with increased giving and prayer support.
“This year, we are grateful Southern Baptists responded once again at a critical time when increased resources are needed for our international outreach. How thankful we are for every person who gave and prayed, proving that together we can accomplish so much more than any one church or individual can alone,” Lee said.
IMB’s vision for the future includes “limitless” missionary teams — healthy groups of “sent ones” who partner together with the goal of each team making disciples and multiplying churches. Ultimately, IMB’s work is focused on the unreached, “doing all of this because we love the glory of God more than our own lives,” Platt said.
Full-time missionaries are essential as leaders who continue to be the key strategic workers in some of the most difficult places on earth. More than 3,600 IMB missionaries depend on the Lottie Moon offering and regular missions giving by churches through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program for missionary salaries, housing, medical care, children’s education, field transportation and other expenses. Supporting one fully funded missionary overseas costs an average of $141 per day, or about $51,000 per year.
The 2015 offering will account for more than half of the total 2016 IMB budget of $278,755,000, said Rodney Freeman, IMB treasurer and vice president of support services.
For more information about the missionaries supported by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, additional financial information and other questions related to IMB, visit IMB.org/FAQ. B&R — Baptist and Reflector editor Lonnie Wilkey contributed to this report.