GRAYSON, Ky. Despite their own needs, congregants of the First Baptist Church of Grayson, Ky., raised the largest missions offering in history. The $5,400 collected over the past four months for the Lottie Moon international missions offering is twice last years record of $2,500, and half of the churchs hopeful goal of $10,000.
First Baptist, which averages 200 in attendance each Sunday, took on the aggressive goal after learning of the 100 IMB missionaries ready and willing but unable to take the gospel message out, because of the financial cutbacks to the IMB.
"I realize our group can't even get one missionary off the deferred list," the pastor said. "... [B]ut we can do our part.
"If we are faithful, God will multiply it and use it," Newland added. "We leave the results in God's hands, but do what he calls us to do."
While praying, Newland calculated that each person would only need to give $3 for 17 weeks to raise the $10,000.
"I thought, 'We are within reach of this and now is not the time to slow down,'" Newland said. "It was a rather mystical experience. I felt we should do something way beyond what we've done."
The special offering from First Baptist comes at a time when the church is struggling with other needs. Located in downtown Grayson, it needs more parking and has been discussing building renovations. First Baptist also would like to hire an associate pastor, the post Newland held before he became pastor three years ago. "We're kind of an in-between church," he said. "We're not big enough to support a second, fulltime staff member, but we're big enough to need it."
Although it is too early to tell if the Lottie Moon offering will spur more members to get directly involved in missions, Newland said, "We look for God to do exciting things in the days ahead."