We’ve all probably seen the Facebook links, read the news, and rolled our eyes. Some guy somewhere with a YouTube account is claiming Starbucks’ plain red and green Christmas cups are a war against the Christian faith. Yawn, and bah-humbug to him.
When Jesus prayed, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14), he wasn’t talking Starbucks cups or cheery Happy Holidays! from retail employees. And that isn’t what this post is about anyway.
Our brothers and sisters in other countries, especially Middle Eastern countries and Southeast Asia—they know persecution, and they know it because they know Christ in the midst of a harshly anti-Christian environment. Part of what we pride ourselves on as Southern Baptists is our ability to send missionaries all across the world, including zones of great persecution, in order to take the love and gospel of Jesus to people who are without him. Our aim is to make it so that no people group goes unreached and no person dies without hearing the gospel.
We have a problem. An anticipated 21 million dollar budget shortfall for the year, coming off several years of the same, is resulting in 500+ foreign missionaries returning home. That is over 10% of our mission force simply because we lack necessary funding to sustain them.
This reality has been analyzed to death on blogs, and that hasn’t changed its inevitability. Yet, here’s the thing: if we Southern Baptists truly banded together it would not take much to see that shortfall erased. We claim somewhere around 16 million Southern Baptists. We all know that more realistically our churches only have about half that figure on any given Sunday. So let’s go with 8 million.
Do the math: divide $21 million across 8 million people, and it would only take $2.63 per person to erase the shortfall. Four dollars per person would result in $32 million given; ten dollars, $80 million.
We can erase the IMB’s budget deficit for a sacrifice equal to the price of fancy-big-name-coffee-in-a-red-and-green-cup per person. In other words, we really don’t have to sacrifice that much to make a massive difference. Jesus said we are to give up our lives for him (Luke 9:23), are we willing to give up a couple of cups of coffee, or a burger, or a new pair of socks, or a small bag of chips and a fountain drink to keep hundreds of our missionaries from coming home? And maybe even send hundreds more out?
We have a great opportunity that is approaching: the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The week of prayer for LMCO kicks off on November 29th. Your church might begin advertising the offering at that time or before. What if we challenged our people as we advertise it to give an additional $5 each to the offering this year? In a family with kids, say four individuals, this might be $20 (equivalent to a couple of large Pizza Hut pizzas). When I say additional, I mean: if you were planning on giving $100, give $105; if you were planning on giving $50, give $55; and if you were planning on giving $0, give $5.
Again, our actual numbers are debated, but at 8 million people an additional $5 each results in an extra $40 million—bye, bye $21 million shortfall and then some. And it’s entirely possible that some people can and will give more than the extra $5 per person; some might give ten or twenty or a thousand.
Even if it’s the pocket change we’ve collected throughout the year, if we all band together then it will add up quickly. (Side note: imagine what would happen if we actually sacrificed…)
Let’s make this our aim. Let’s do what we can to keep our missionaries going to the nations.