ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) - On Thursday (Oct. 19), Kevin Ezell announced to the North American Mission Board staff that the 2017 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering totaled an all-time high: $59,648,377. The offering for North American missions beat the previous 2007 high by $185,096.
"We are grateful for every dime we get from Southern Baptists," said Ezell, NAMB president. "We are thankful for churches, pastors and denominational leaders who encourage their people to give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering."
"We're primarily concerned about doing the very best we can with every dime that we receive, but any time we hit a new high like this, we want to celebrate."
NAMB welcomed several missionaries to the meeting, including Trent DeLoach, Send Relief Hub coordinator in Clarkston, Ga., and his wife Elizabeth. Several Atlanta-area church planting missionaries also attended.
After expressing gratitude to the NAMB staff, Ezell told the missionaries in attendance, "You are why we do what we do. What you do is why Southern Baptists give."
Portrait of a missionary
Ezell also welcomed James Roberson, a church planting missionary in Brooklyn, N.Y. Roberson presented a portrait of how gifts to the Annie Armstrong offering are invested in God's Kingdom.
"We moved to New York in February 2013 without knowing anything about the city, the trains, the buses or the neighborhoods," Roberson said. "By April 2014, we launched our church and had 185 people because God allowed us to gather people."
Three years later, they now have 250 meeting every Sunday.
Roberson mentioned three members of his church -- John, who is Haitian, Danny, who is Puerto Rican and Chris, who is Chinese. "They're all second-generation immigrants," Roberson said, "and they're a picture of our church."
Roberson described his goal of raising up indigenous leaders within every community so that those who speak different languages and are from different cultures and neighborhoods can be ministered to more effectively.
"We don't want to just move into a building," Roberson said. "We want to move into a community and see lives changed. All of the guys I mentioned are bilingual. They would be able to reach their first-generation family and community in ways that I could not."
NAMB seeks to equip visionary and effective missionaries who will rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to reach their communities. Church planting and Send Relief missionaries receive support from the Annie Armstrong offering. And church planting missionaries, like Roberson, and relief missionaries, such as DeLoach, would not be able to work as effectively without the support of the offering.
About the Annie Armstrong offering
In 1895, the Women's Missionary Union collected the first missions offering to benefit North American missions, then called home missions. Since that year, Southern Baptists have raised more than $1 billion through the offering named in honor of the missions advocate and WMU leader, Annie Armstrong.
The Annie Armstrong offering funds 50 percent of NAMB's ministry budget. Every dollar of the offering goes directly to the field in support of NAMB missionaries who proclaim the Gospel throughout the United States, Canada and other territories.
Every year around Easter, churches collect money for the offering and send those funds to NAMB by way of their state conventions. Individuals can give online at AnnieArmstrong.com or by mailing checks to North American Mission Board, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368.
Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.