2008 is a year that made history. We’ll remember the excitement and
spectacle of the summer Olympics as superhuman feats unfolded before our eyes,
including that of eight-time gold medalist and over-night sensation Michael
Phelps. And deep in our memories are etched the devastating images of flooding
in the mid-west and the hurricane damage along the Gulf Coast.
Much of the year focused on an intense campaign, and the election of
Sen. Barack Obama as the first African-American president.
But the biggest story of the year was without doubt the economic crisis.
The world watched as the housing market crashed and the pantheons of business
crumbled. People lost their jobs, their houses, even their retirement
investments. No one has gone untouched. This story has set itself into the
fabric of our lives like an unwanted stain.
In describing the current outlook, the one characteristic word that
economists, politicians and the media can agree on is "uncertain." Whether it’s
a recession, depression or something else entirely it may be years before we
regain stability and confidence.
In these uncertain times, people are searching for hope. They’re
searching for something that lasts longer than a sub-prime mortgage or a 401K.
As followers of Christ, we have a hope and a joy that lasts forever, and your
community needs the hope of Christ and the outreach of your church more than
ever. People need to hear that in God’s economy they are worth far more than
what shows up in their bank accounts or financial statements.
We need to be careful in this time of economic recession that we don’t
fall into an evangelistic recession. It is a season for Christians to consider
re-doubling our work in evangelism and giving to missions.
This year’s Week of Prayer for North American Missions is March 1-8. Its
theme, "Live with Urgency: Sowing Together for Harvest," seems appropriate for
this time in history. We can’t sit on the sidelines waiting for the economy to
improve before we reach people with the gospel. If we wait, many will be lost
forever, so we must work together and share with urgency. Whether it’s praying,
giving or going—and hopefully all three—we all have a role to play.
The North American Mission Board does not generate income to support the
more than 5,600 missionaries serving throughout the United States and Canada.
We are totally dependent on the gifts of Southern Baptists. It takes faith to
believe God will provide $65 million through the Annie Armstrong Easter
Offering® (AAEO), but we already have seen God perform a miracle in 2008.
During a recession and even $4-a-gallon gas prices, Southern Baptists gave $58
million dollars to AAEO.
Last year, Southern Baptists helped plant Iron City Church in
Pittsburgh. Bob, an agnostic, discovered a loving God and Savior through the
ministry of that church. Melissa Okitkun, a Yupik Eskimo, found a friend in
missionary Brenda Crim. Brenda used that friendship to lead Melissa into a
relationship with Christ.
Your faithful giving through the Cooperative Program and the Annie
Armstrong Easter Offering enables missionaries like Lamar Duke in Pennsylvania
and Brenda Crim in Alaska to serve God and spread the gospel unfettered by the
need to raise their own support. Your prayerful support and financial gifts
make it possible for the Bobs and Melissas of the world to hear the
I pray that we as Southern Baptists will be found faithful and obedient
in our giving even in these uncertain times. I pray our faithfulness to the
gospel will overshadow the bad news of our day and that the good news of Jesus
Christ will be the headliner in 2009.
Carol Pipes, editor
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC