Beyond the ancient tradition linking Easter to the spring equinox, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is always vital to the North American Mission Board's never-ending work of sharing the Gospel throughout the United States and Canada.
Some 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries in the United States and Canada count on support from the offering's 2011 goal of $70 million.
"As Christ-followers, we should have a consuming passion to reach our homeland for Jesus Christ," said Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark. "With 233 million lost people in the United States and 258 million lost people in all of North America, we need to give financially to further the work of Christ, penetrating the darkness of lostness.
"With the exciting new commitment of the Southern Baptist Convention toward church planting, we need to increase our funding of the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions," Floyd said.
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, said more than half of NAMB's budget comes from the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
"We are very dependent on this offering," Ezell said. "As Annie Armstrong goes, so goes the opportunities NAMB has to support missionaries."
Ezell said during his first three months as president of the SBC mission entity, he and other NAMB leaders worked to eliminate everything possible to get more money in the field for missionaries.
"We downsized our staff by 36 percent. We decreased the travel budget by 50 percent. We deleted millions of dollars in other expenses so that in 2012, we'll have $15 million more than ever before for church planters," Ezell said.
"Hopefully, churches will respond to Annie this year -- knowing that NAMB will be a good steward of their money, ensuring that it goes directly into the hands of church planters and our missionaries."
Gifts to Annie so far this year have been encouraging, Ezell said, but it's far too early to celebrate.
"The offering has been down for several years," he noted, "and we need a good year in order to meet the needs."
Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the church he leads is giving the largest Annie Armstrong Offering in its history.
"We so believe in what NAMB is doing in church planting," said Wright, senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga. "I want to challenge pastors from churches across our convention. Knowing how important the Annie Armstrong Offering is and with Easter fast approaching, I ask pastors to pray about how to challenge their church. We hope to have thousands more churches throughout the Southern Baptist Convention to give more to Annie this year and be great lighthouses for Christ."
Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board. For more information about the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions, go to www.anniearmstrong.com.
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