This week, International Mission Board (IMB) Trustees will meet in New Orleans, where I live; IMB President David Platt will speak at NOBTS, where I work; and a new group of missionaries will be commissioned at First Baptist New Orleans, where I am a member. As a lifelong Southern Baptist, I have done my small share of praying, giving, and going through the ministries of the Cooperative Program (CP). For this reason, I consider myself a stakeholder in the success of every CP-funded SBC entity, including the IMB.
As a stakeholder, I followed with great interest the IMB’s recent announcement to shrink its missionary force due to the past 6 years of spending more than $210 million beyond its receipts. When shrinking a mission force for financial reasons, it seems there would be benefits to leaving the most experienced missionaries on the field, since they already know the language, culture, and local ministry contacts. The leadership of the IMB faces difficult decisions, and I pray God would give them wisdom as they seek to be good stewards of both opportunities and resources.
I was encouraged to see that an initiative has been launched called “Holding Lottie’s Rope.” The goal is to connect churches with some of these seasoned missionaries who plan to continue serving on the international mission field. Who is eligible to receive this financial support? Those who accepted the IMB’s volunteer retirement package, but who do not sense the Lord has called them to leave their mission field. It is an interesting mission-funding model. The details can be found here.
I support the work and direction of the IMB. I also support the strategy of “Holding Lottie’s Rope.” May God continue to bless these efforts by Southern Baptists to reach out to all people with the message of the gospel.