International Ministries

Fulfill the Great Commission

September 9, 2004 Journal

Dear Friends,

The school year at Woodstock is now near the end of the second month.The 100 new students from about 15 countries have settled well. There are new students whose parents serve in countries around India where there is no longer appropriate education for them.What a marvelous opportunity to encourage and disciple these young people.

There are also students who have come to study who have never heard the ‘Good News'.Recently a high school girl was in a religious education class, which was studying John's Gospel.Suddenly she said, ‘It's just not fair!My family has never heard any of this!'What a privilege to share with young people and watch them as they learn about Christianity and experience living among Christians.

I have been serving at Woodstock more than 30 years and with IM for 21 of those years.I have felt God working in me and through me all these years through the very difficult times and the extremely exciting times.Because of your prayers and financial support I have been able to serve without fear about where money was going to come from to meet daily expenses.

Things have changed now - at this time there is a great challenge to fund ABC missionaries.It is an incredible privilege to serve young people on this mountaintop in north India.A responsibility I do not take lightly as I continue to feel God's call to serve here.Without your gifts to the World Mission Offering, neither I nor the rest of your American Baptist missionaries and staff could be there to fulfill the Great Commission by helping the persons of the world grow in discipleship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

American Baptists have answered God's call to go into all the world and have said, ‘Here am I Lord, send me.'Today more than ever before these servants of God urgently need your support.Your gifts make in incredible difference in the world.As American Baptists' international mission board we have responded in faith to a wide variety of opportunities to bear witness to the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.

This is a great thing, but our exercise of faith also has included mistakes.We have allowed ourselves to become too dependent upon endowed gifts of previous generations of American Baptists.When the rising stock market made the value of these earlier gifts grow by leaps and bounds, we used the increase not to pad reserves, but to do more ministry in the world.Our core commitment was to be in the mission business, not the investing business.But then, as inevitably happens, the market dropped and we were left with less funds than needed to meet our ministry commitments.

Another significant factor that has impacted American Baptist mission support is that the way people give to ministries they believe in has been changing dramatically.We acknowledge that we were slow to recognize these changes in giving priorities within our American Baptist family.We are learning that you prefer to give to IM through support of missionaries and the ministries they are involved in.A number of you have given toward the STEP program and helped pay for the education of young people.Others have sent funds each month to help a church leader educate his children at Woodstock.Giving through volunteering and financial support of specific ministries is strong.

We now recognize that, as your American Baptist foreign mission agency, we need to provide better communications to connect you to your missionaries and national partners around the world.We want you to be excited about what God is doing through YOUR missionaries all around the world.You need to know why the World Mission Offering is the very best investment for your mission dollars.You touch, through your two missionaries at Woodstock school, more than 400 young people in their formative years from 20 countries around the world.These young people will go on to be leaders in the countries they come from and in the communities they live in.They will make a difference.They will share what has been shared with them, not just in the classroom, but in the residence and in the community in which they live.All will leave here knowing of the love of Jesus Christ.

Tough changes have been made at IM.In the last year there has been a significant reduction in home office support staff.Many missionaries and home staff have taken a financial cut in salary received and raised their contribution to the World Mission Offering.There has been no cost of living raise in several years. Working together, significant progress has been made in reducing operating costs.An offering totally $85,000 was received at the World Mission Conference in August 2004.The deficit has been cut in half from $3 million to $1.5 million.Cost-cutting measures have reduced some vital ministries and contributions to our national partners.They have not yet involved recalling missionaries from service.This is clearly a last resort but, unless giving increases, it is a very painful and real possibility.

I, as one of your missionaries, along with my 137 colleagues serving in life-giving ministries around the world, need your help now more than ever!The World Mission Offering is the single largest source of income to support the core work of missionaries and national partners across the globe.And, 100% of every dollar received goes directly to support global mission.In 2003 giving to the WMO was $4.2 million.In order to close the gap of our remaining deficit of $1.5 million and keep ALL your missionaries on the field, the WMO needs to increase to $5.7 million or 36%.

The needs of your international missionaries and their ministries are great no doubt!The needs of your local, regional and national ministries are no less important.We encourage you to continue your faithful support of present ministries and to consider seriously what additional sacrificial gift you can make to the WMO.

Please pray and ask God what He would have you do.Giving is a personal decision.Your response to the offering depends on you personally.As an individual, does a 36% increase seem too great?What might you need to sacrifice to increase your gift to the WMO by at least 36%?Or, 50%? Or, 100%, to be sure that no missionaries need to be recalled.Please be intentional about what you give.Truly understand the lives of missionaries and world partners that you impact and change when you give $5, $50 or even $500 to the WMO.In the ministry here at Woodstock School it means crossing cultural boundaries to share the redeeming love of Christ with future leaders.