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« on: December 21, 2004, 03:06:22 AM »

Southern Baptists' Mission Focus: Raise Millions, Send Thousands

by Allie Martin
December 16, 2004

(AgapePress) - The nation's largest evangelical denomination is trying to raise $150 million to send missionaries out into the field.

The record goal of $150 million was set by officials in the Southern Baptist Convention as they prepare for the annual "Lottie Moon" Christmas offering for international missions. Dr. Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board of the SBC, says while many of the large churches garner attention for large offerings, numerous smaller churches are stepping out in faith.

"The most thrilling thing for me is to hear from a lot of our little churches -- [those] with just maybe 30 or 40 members, or less than a hundred members -- that give far beyond what they would have ever envisioned being capable of giving in the past," Rankin shares. "It's only through everyone doing their part, and every individual giving whatever they can, that it all comes together."

Currently there are more than 3,000 candidates in the missionary appointment process. Rankin notes that missionaries often serve in volatile areas -- among them eight SBC missionaries who were killed over the past two years while serving in the field.

"Our missionaries are going [into] places of danger and risk -- and in many places, it's not because of their Christian witness [that they are at risk], but simply because of a hostile environment represented by our world today," the SBC official explains. "And yet they seem to be undeterred. In fact, the passion seems to be greater than ever."

Because giving for the Lottie Moon offering was $10 million below the goal in 2002, missionary appointments were down in 2003. The 2003 goal of $135 million was exceeded by slightly more than one million dollars. The namesake for the international missions offering, Lottie Moon, was a 19th-century SBC missionary to China.


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