June 29 I sat in my black recliner responding to email on my MacBook Pro. I received an email through Facebook from a former student asking for prayer as they tried to raise support to go overseas. I didn’t ask if this student had been affected by budget shortfalls or even if they tried to go through the International Mission Board. But I knew that this was the primary purpose of the Cooperative Program and our mission sending agency. The churches gather their support so that our missionaries can focus their efforts on reaching the world for Jesus Christ and not fund raising.
Many thoughts rushed through my head. What if every Southern Baptists gave just $2? What if the majority of Southern Baptists gave what they would spend on their Sunday lunch? What could I do to help with the problem?
I could give, and I plan to do so. I could encourage my own church to have an offering, and I plan to do so. But could something more be done to solve the problem. I have many current and former students willing to die for Jesus if that is what it takes, and they may not be able to go to the mission field because of a few green pieces of paper… I know great friends and great men of God who may have to come home from the field if we do not give to support missions.
More importantly 6.5 billion people around the world will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Every penny we give to support missions helps reach one more of those eternal souls. Our money affects eternal destinies through the work of our missionaries to bring glory to God.
In this context, a crazy idea emerged. I am blessed to work with some of the most talented people in the world at Southwestern Seminary. The best thing about these people is that we share a passion to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I began to send emails and make phone calls collecting ideas on how we could use our resources to support the call of Johnny Hunt and others to have a Christmas in August offering to support our missionaries. As I understand it, this offering will be a unique Lottie Moon Christmas Offering taken in August and again in December to help offset the budget shortfall resulting from the economic crisis.
Through conversations, approval of the concept, and the input of some wise co-laborers, we determined the best way we could help would be to produce a video to spread the news. With me leaving for a week long vacation at noon the next day, everything had to come together perfectly. In what I can only believe was the confirmation of God, I witnessed cooperation and agreement across the denomination quicker than I thought was possible.
The idea was finalized. I sat down with the staff to plan how we could gather the needed resources on such short notice to produce this video. I thought our team might be weary just returning from the Southern Baptist Convention, but instead they expressed excitement at meeting this impossible challenge.
As I write this, video footage, photos, and design elements are being gathered along with great cooperation from others who have agreed to let us use their footage. The goal will be to provide a resource that churches or anyone for that matter can use during the month of August to compel attenders to support the IMB through a Lottie Moon offering–Christmas in August. The video will be kept short enough that churches could show it at strategic moments in their services.
If all goes well, the video will be available for download on July 24 or at the latest July 31. A press release will be sent and an email to our Southwestern alumni encouraging them to use the video to get the word out about the Christmas in August offering. I expect a great response. As you know, Southwestern has a history of supporting missions. Robert Naylor said, “The Sun never sets on Southwestern” because it has alumni missionaries spreading the Gospel all over the world. It is my hope that others will send emails to their various contacts so that as many churches as possible will utilize this tool to encourage support for the Great Commission.
Please pray for the production of the video, and that God will use this to garner large cooperation and support across our denomination. More importantly let’s pray for a world wide movement of God that sees millions saved.
I hope that students like the one who emailed me can spend their time sharing the Gospel among unreached people groups rather than starting Facebook groups to raise funds here in America. The eternal destinies of over 6 billion people depend on it.