RICHMOND, Va.—Southern Baptists' contributions to support international missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering are 4.4 percent ahead of last year's pace, according to a report by Rodney Freeman, IMB treasurer and vice president of support services.
At the end of March 2018, IMB had received $124,093,278 for the 2017-2018 campaign, which began Oct. 1 and continues through Sept. 30. The total is $5,225,589 (4.4 percent) ahead of LMCO receipts at this point last year.
The total represents money received by the International Mission Board or postmarked by the close of the last business day of March 2018 and includes receipts from the SBC Executive Committee, state conventions, churches and individuals.
Freeman also reported that at the end of March, IMB had received $50,776,311 in Cooperative Program (CP) funding for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which started Oct. 1. The total is $1,188,964, or 2.4 percent, ahead of the pace for 2016-2017.
Lottie and Lily Anne
LMCO gifts come from Southern Baptists of all ages. This year's offering took on new significance for Mississippi pastor Chaise Herrington. He and his wife Lydia wrestled with how to teach their children about Southern Baptists' emphasis on international missions, as he shared in the story "Lottie, Lily Anne, and Glory to God" published in The Baptist Record in January.
"As we learned the amazing story of a woman who gave herself away for God's glory among the Chinese people, my three-year-old daughter Lily Anne expressed concern for the hopeless spiritual condition of people living without Christ in other countries," wrote Herrington, who serves at Big Creek Baptist Church in Waynesboro.
Lily Anne determined she needed to give "a bunch of money" to send the Gospel to the nations. Her solution was to bake and sell dozens of cookies with the help of her parents, who expected to raise $50-$100.
"Despite our shamefully low expectations, I was privileged to stand beside Lily as she presented a check to our church for $415.51, the result of baking nearly 50 dozen cookies," Herrington reported.
Every gift counts
Like every other dollar given through the Lottie Moon offering, Lily Anne's gift cooperates with others to support more than 3,550 international missionaries around the world—such as fellow Mississippian Geraldine Smith from Pascagoula. She and her husband George, from Nevada, have served in Uganda in East Africa for 17 years. There, the Smiths share the hope of the Gospel with people who traditionally adhere to family religion and animism.
Partnering with the IMB, every church—regardless of size, resources or unique needs—can play a role in taking the Gospel to unreached people, and that includes supporting Southern Baptist missionaries through the LMCO as Lily Anne did.
"Not everyone who desires to further the mission of God can become a lifetime foreign missionary like Lottie Moon," Chaise Herrington wrote. "Nevertheless, Lily's efforts show that everyone can pray, and that even the youngest and the poorest of us can give to God's mission.... What would happen if we had such confidence that God would use our feeble efforts? I truly believe that the world would be significantly impacted for God's glory."
The LMCO campaign year historically ran from June 1 to May 31 each year, but that campaign year did not align with IMB's fiscal year, which runs Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. IMB finance leaders, in conjunction with the board of trustees, proposed to align the fiscal year and the LMCO campaign to Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Messengers voted to approve the fiscal year change during the 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. Therefore, gifts contributed from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018, will apply to the 2017-2018 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.(BP)