RICHMOND -- 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 IMB President Tom Elliff on behalf of the missionaries. “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.
Through May 31, Tennessee Baptists have given $9,572,548 to the 2013 offering. Gifts from Tennessee Baptist Convention churches will continue to be accepted for the 2013 offering through November.
TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis expressed appreciation for the support of Tennessee and Southern Baptists for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
“As a former member of the International Mission Board and as a pastor for 34 years of churches extremely supportive and generous in giving through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and the Cooperative Program, it thrills my heart to see this record.
“I can only imagine what would happen if we saw the Cooperative Program, along with the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and our own Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions set records simultaneously for Great Commission work at home and around the world,” Davis said.
“May God grant us that kind of vision and victory for the cause of Christ,” he added.
Candy Phillips, executive director of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union, noted that when “Southern Baptists work together to accomplish a goal like setting a new record for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, it is worth celebrating.”
She added, however, that there is more to accomplish. “When you stop and think about the vast number of people who are alive today and who have never heard the name of Jesus, these dollars are inadequate to accomplish the task of reaching them all.
“When we have the opportunity to support state, national, and international missionaries through prayer and giving, let’s remember to pray faithfully and give sacrificially,” Phillips challenged.
While the total fell short of the goal of $175 million, 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 Christmas 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 offering goes to the IMB overseas budget, which directly supports missionaries and their work.
The offering does far more than pay for basic needs, however. It provides the “resources that enable us to chase the darkness,” Elliff stressed.
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, he added.
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).
In addition to the sacrificial gifts given through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Cooperative Program, Elliff emphasized that “we must continue to explore new avenues that God is placing before Southern Baptists to send more and more missionaries to the field.”
And he remains convinced even greater Lottie Moon giving is on the horizon, too — especially in light of this year’s increase.
“It is my feeling that as long as there are Southern Baptists, every person in this world should have a legitimate reason to believe that if they can just hang on a little longer, we will get there with the Gospel,” Elliff said. “To that end, it is important for each Southern Baptist to know just how grateful we are for their giving.”
– Includes reporting by Erich Bridges of the International Mission Board and Lonnie Wilkey, editor of the Baptist and Reflector.