I learned several weeks ago that the IMB had evacuated and relocated many of its missionaries around the world. The IMB took action after the US State Department advised all American citizens abroad to return to the USA as soon as possible. The IMB offered its missionaries the option of staying or evacuating. Of course, as you would expect, many chose to remain in their places of service. Others deemed it wise to accept evacuation.
Last evening, I received this message from Dr. Paul Chitwood, President of the IMB. It reads in part:
The impact of Covid-19, however, upon local churches — and, thus, the impact upon the IMB — is quickly becoming evident. Our revenue totals for March and April have dipped $2 million below budget. Moreover, we have made a significant investment in evacuating and relocating overseas personnel from certain places around the globe for a host of reasons related to the pandemic. These were unbudgeted expenses that are coming in at about $2 million. That amount includes getting our personnel back to the field or, in some cases, getting them established in new places. Some of our personnel were required to leave everything behind and will need to start life anew in another harvest field.
We are accounting for this combined negative impact of $4 million by cuts to spending and a hiring freeze for most stateside staff positions. Because of the past generosity of Southern Baptists, we are in a solid financial position, but we will need help staying there. So we are appealing to any faithful givers to make an additional gift through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering right now as an investment in caring for missionaries and ensuring that the witness to the Good News among the nations is not interrupted. Every gift through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is dedicated to Southern Baptist missionaries on the field.
So, the IMB has double trouble. Naturally, income from SBC churches has declined due to the pandemic. At the same time. the IMB has incurred 2 million dollars in unbudgeted expenses to relocate missionaries. I hope our churches can step up and give a supplemental Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Certainly, the church I serve will do so. Now, I realize that many churches are struggling financially. We all understand that. However, other churches are doing fine. The giving at our church here in Texas has actually increased.
So, if possible, let’s all pitch in to help the IMB during this challenging time.