By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
February 17, 2005
The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions (AAEO) continues to be a testimony of the prayerful partnership between missionaries and local church members, according to AAEO representatives.
Since 1934, Southern Baptists have given funds to support missionary salaries, health benefits, church planting supplies and evangelism materials. Last year’s annual giving was a record high, at nearly $54 million, which supported 5,200 missionaries serving in the United States and Canada.
Candace McIntosh, executive director of Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union, said, “Giving through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is one way Alabama Baptists can support Great Commission work, not only in the state of Alabama, but throughout the United States.” Alabama’s AAEO goal is $5 million.
And combining that support with prayer is critical, according to Wanda Lee, executive director of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU).
“The AAEO and Lottie Moon Christmas Offerings are tangible ways Baptists can express their desire to support missions,” she said. “These gifts, along with faithful prayer support, enable missionaries to do the work God has called them to do.”
Jimmy Jackson, pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, agreed.
Whitesburg led the 2004 Annie Armstrong offering in Alabama with more than $119,000 and Jackson gives credit to prayer combined with encouragement. “We encourage members to give all year long to both the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings. We have a special six-week focus on each one during which time we pray and keep our goal in front of the people.”
Les Hughes, senior pastor of Westwood Baptist Church, Alabaster, has also found that encouragement and prayer are key ingredients to a successful offering for missions. In 2004, Westwood gave $43,968 primarily through efforts of the missions team and sermons.
Hughes said his church wants to be prayer warriors, cheerleaders and partners in ministering to others and in sharing the gospel. “It’s important for us to give this offering because these missionaries trust us to support them with our prayers and with our resources,” he said.
With an estimated seven out of 10 people living without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, believes we must never lose sight of the mission before us.
Not only does he hope the 2005 Annie Armstrong Offering goal of $55 million is reached but that the lost will give their hearts and lives to Jesus.
“The signs are all around us every day that our homeland is sinking deeper and deeper into a lostness and spiritual darkness that only God can turn around,” he said. “From the school classroom to the Wall Street boardroom (and) from Washington, D.C. to Hollywood, we are losing the spiritual foundation we once had as a nation and along with it, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.”
As millions of Christians in Southern Baptist churches donate to the annual offering, 100 percent of the money utilized to support missionaries and evangelism and careful planning is taken to start new churches.
Reccord explained that NAMB takes a close look at the demographics of the communities, what kind of church is needed most and what groups are missed by other churches in the area. The planning pays off when a new church planter is commissioned.
“It’s an approach that says, ‘We’re not going to design church our way and then expect you to conform to it, Instead, we’re going to be rock-solid in our doctrine and singularly focused on Christ, but we’re going to remove the barriers that sometimes keep people from walking into a church,’” he said.
Until her death in 1938, removing barriers is what Annie Armstrong was known for as she devoted her life to helping the poor, needy and underserved.
“I think she would be amazed to see what her vision for North American missions has grown into,” Reccord said. He believes she would be heartened by the fact God is still using the same method — the obedient and generous gifts and offerings of His people — to support the work that was so close to her heart.
“I think she would also feel more of an urgency to reach this continent for Christ and she would feel an even stronger need for us to continue and grow the mission.”
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