With Southern Baptist tsunami relief efforts in full swing and donations to South Asias devastated topping previous records, the International Mission Board had plenty to applaud during their meeting Jan. 24-27 in Richmond, Va. But the growing death toll reminded them of unfinished work among people who have never heard the gospel.
After Decembers quake-tsunami devastated coastline villages along the Indian Ocean Rim, Southern Baptists rapidly mobilized to help those in need. Since then, they have raised more than $6.8 million for relief efforts.
Through Feb. 1, the IMB had processed donations from more than 14,700 givers. Previously, the highest number of donors in a single month was 3,500. And more than $1.3 million dollars was raised through on-line giving.
"People around the world, including Southern Baptists, have responded in a tremendous outpouring," said David Steverson, the IMBs treasurer, as reported by the Baptist Press.
And because gifts through SBCs Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering pay for basic support and administrative expenses for IMB missionaries around the world, board personnel can use all gifts designated for relief efforts on actual relief ministries. No relief funds will be used for administrative or promotional purposes.
"We appreciate the support that Southern Baptists provide through their offerings that allow us to fulfill the vision the Lord has for us," Steverson said.
Though response has been tremendous, Steverson said, there is one figure that stands out above them allthe 200,000 lives lost in the tsunami disaster. For him, that was the most shocking statistic.
"Some had heard the gospel and rejected Him, Steverson said. But many others had never heard."
At the Jan. 25 service at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, Va.Gordon Fort, IMB vice president for overseas operations said that the Dec. 26 quake-tsunami devastation serves as a reminder of the Great Commissions urgency
In the twinkling of an eye, more than 200,000 were swept into eternity. How many of them will spend a Christ-less eternity? Fort asked.
Images from Asia showed survivors scanning photos of bodieslooking for lost relatives. Gods eyes, too, roam the earth, looking for lost to be found, Fort said.
Also during the four-day meeting, the board appointed 54 new missionaries, approved alternatives in missionary education requirements and improvements in technology, clarified the definition of church, honored active and retired missionaries who died within the past year and said farewell to Larry Cox, former IMB vice president for the Office of Mobilization.