As of Sunday, April 17, you have given $3,808 to the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions! That exceeds our goal for this year of $3,600! Thank you so much for your generosity in giving to support the work of thousands of missionaries working throughout North America.
There are those today who are drawing back from their support of the Cooperative Program, and our special offerings to support the work of our missionaries serving overseas and in North America. Incredibly, they sometimes do so under the desire of wanting to keep those funds to pay for their own church members to go on overseas trips themselves. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with individual believers wanting to go on a mission trip for a week or two. But that does not replace the effective work supported by going global through our giving to the Cooperative Program, and the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong Offerings. Southern Baptists learned the hard way prior to 1925 (when the Cooperative Program was established) that we can do far more by pooling resources and working together than we can by every church or individual doing their own thing and reinventing the wheel many times over. A return to a missions strategy that ignores that reality may make individuals feel good about themselves - but it will not advance the Kingdom of God more effectively.
I have experienced the power of cooperative giving and going from both ends of the spectrum - as a missionary and as a pastor. I know what it means to be able to spend years on the mission field without having to constantly make trips home to the U.S. to beg for funds and raise my own support. The waste of time, energy and resources of a short-term only missions approach would be staggering, and if Southern Baptists move to that model, most of our resources will be spent in paying for airfare and other travel costs of getting individuals to where they go on short-term trips, instead of enabling people we send to spend their life over a period of years working with those who need Jesus.
Short-term missions is a great blessing when used to enhance the work of those who have planted their lives among people in a given area, or in opening new areas of work as God gives opportunity. But, in my view, that should be done over-and-above a church's sacrificial support for the Cooperative Program and our International and North American Mission Boards.
As your pastor, I am so grateful for your unwavering support for missions, and your generous giving to a cause greater than yourself - the cause of sharing Jesus Christ effectively to the ends of the earth! The attitude of, "He must increase - but I must decrease" is one of spiritual maturity and Kingdom Growth. It's not about us - it's about what makes Jesus known most effectively.
I say all of that to remind you - when you give to the Cooperative Program, to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering - you are going just as surely as the churches that supported the Apostle Paul were a part of every place he went, and every victory won. Thank you for being willing to go by giving!