RICHMOND, Va. (LBM)—Donations through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for the first quarter of the new fiscal year, Oct.-Dec. 2017, were $600,027 ahead of receipts for the same time period last year, a 4.1 percent increase, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention reported Jan. 16 via press release.
Meanwhile, the overseas missionary force declined in 2017, dropping from 3,596 to 3,562, according to data collected from the IMB website Fast Facts page and a limited release Field Personnel Count summary.
The IMB reported a total of $15,221,629 had been collected from all sources “so far for the 2017-2018 campaign,” which runs October through September. Previous campaigns were based on a June through May calendar.
IMB also reported it has received $23,304,153 in Cooperative Program funding for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which likewise started Oct. 1. This amount is $225,349 ahead of last year at this time, about one percent more.
The combined increases total $825,376 more for the work of the IMB.
In contrast to the financial blessings it is receiving, the IMB continues to lose more missionaries than it appoints annually.
The net loss of 34 field personnel for the year actually represents a shortage of 134 overseas missionaries based on the published budget plan.
According to statements posted on the Frequently Asked Questions page on IMB.org, the budget provided for “a net gain (from Dec. 2016 to Dec. 2017) of 100 field missionaries, which is approximately 3 percent [more].”
The end of year report means Southern Baptists have lost an additional 255 missionaries, net, from the field since 2016, when 983 departed early after IMB officials announced the need for personnel reductions and offered incentives to induce voluntary terminations (another 149 stateside staff left in 2016, too).
Speaking June 12 to a select crowd in Phoenix, Arizona, during the SBC Annual Meeting, IMB President David Platt said a turnaround was imminent.
“For years now, we have declined in the number of Southern Baptist missionaries serving around the world,” he said. “But this year, the stage is set for that trend to be reversed. The stage is set for Southern Baptists to send more missionaries, through a multiplicity of pathways.”
**The Baptist Message contacted the mission agency with questions and to allow comment on the continuing personnel losses in light of the entity’s financial improvements, but IMB officials did not respond.
Aug. 2015 4,800 (before mass departures)
Apr. 2016 3,817 (end of VRI, HRO benefits offers)
Dec. 2016 3,596 (losses continued)
Dec. 2017 3,562 (134 actually short of goal)
VRI = Voluntary Retirement Incentives
HRO = Hand Raising Opportunities
A: The budget provides for a projected 451 total new field personnel in 2017. All 451 would be field personnel. We project that those who retire or complete their assignment (273) and we project those who depart through attrition (78) would equal 351. In addition to “replacing” those 351 departed missionaries, we will be able to appoint 100 more, for a net gain (from Dec. 2016 to Dec. 2017) of 100 field missionaries, which is approximately 3 percent.
Dr. Robert Jeffress and conservative evangelical Christians who oppose open immigration are not “utilitarians” who think like abortionists as one SBC blogger wrote. Such a charge is a damnable lie and mischaracterization, but we should expect no less of the followers of Russell Moore and his progressive fellow travelers who have infiltrated the Southern Baptist Convention.
The key charge from SBC Voices is that Dr. Jeffress views immigrants no differently than abortion supporters view infants. “At the core, Jeffress uses the same logic to restrict certain groups of people from entering the country as abortion lobbyists use to restrict babies from entering life outside the womb. On the one hand it is perceived value to the person and on the other hand it is perceived value to the nation.”
This is nonsense. Carrying this logic to its conclusion presents its absurdity. When hiring someone for a job, may I consider their qualifications? Is that using abortion logic if I hire based on talent and skills instead of God’s view of the person? Or, are the situations different? Perhaps, as in hiring, determining immigration policy isn’t a Gospel issue or any type of moral issue, but rather a reasonable wisdom issue where Christians should look to the merits of the policy instead of condemning one another. Continue reading
Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Exec. Director, Connect 316
In the vocabulary of the immigration debate, DREAMers were brought to America by their illegal immigrant parents when they were too young to bear any responsibility for the crime. Their name derives from the DREAM Act first introduced in 2001, which never passed. (Perhaps we should simply speak of the DREAM Bill.) The acronym stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, a group of people generally innocent of any wrongdoing. But what happens when a DREAMer becomes an adult? They are neither citizens nor criminals. Their unique status has resulted in no small amount of controversy regarding what to do with them. In addition to the ethical concerns, political strategists clearly covet these 3.6 million potential voters.
The aim of this essay is not to discuss the ethical or political implications of the debate, but rather, to explore the underlying philosophical and theological arguments concerning injustice that have been presented by those who oppose DREAMer Deportation, on the one hand, and those who oppose Reformed Reprobation, on the other. In listening to the logic of deportation opponents, I have been struck by the similarities and parallels with my own line of reasoning concerning the basic unfairness of the Calvinist doctrine of Reprobation. Continue reading