IMB chairman: Thanks for missions support

PLANO?Tom Hatley, chairman of the International Mission Board trustees, brought greetings to the messengers on behalf of the IMB trustees, administration and 5,277 missionaries abroad.

Hatley, an Arkansas pastor, thanked the SBTC for its gifts last year given through CP missions and for the large Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.

“Secondly, thank you for calling out the called. People are surrendering to missions at record numbers in your churches and they are our greatest resource when it comes to pushing back the curtain of spiritual darkness in this world.”

Hatley said 25,099 volunteers joined IMB field missionaries across the globe last year. “We are sure that many other trips were taken that we did not record. Keep that up, it does more to personalize missions to our churches than anything else we can do. Last, but not least, you made last year one of the best ever in evangelizing the lost because of your generous giving to the Lottie Moon Christian Offering.

“The record offering helped to arrest a decline in our missionary force that had occurred because of severe budget cuts that were forced upon us in the two years previous. At one time, we had over 5,600 missionaries on the field. The current count is 5,277 and rising. With another generous Lottie Moon Christmas Offering we should be back above the 5,600 level soon. However, that will not be sufficient for the lostness of our world.”

Hatley continued: “Consider the lostness: Over half of the people who have ever lived are alive today. Out of the nearly 6.2 billion people in this world, over 5.5 billion of them are lost. Every two seconds three people are dying lost without Jesus and are thus separated from him forever. Let me describe the lostness another way. If you could see the faces of the lost at a rate of five every second, it would take you 15 years just to see them.”

Hatley said he would meet this month with trustees, staff and IMB regional leaders to strategize in reaching the unreached across the world.

“The knowledge that comes from that discussion will give us some long term goals to present to you. ? It is time we dare to look at completing this task. For 2,000 years we have been approaching this day and with advances in travel and technology we can bring the gospel to every nation, language, city, village, and tribe within this generation. We have the resources, we have the commission, and we have the calling. We must simply dare to stretch for the finish line.” Hatley noted that in spreading the gospel, “we are also guarding the integrity of the gospel.”

Citing a meeting last summer between trustees, staff and missions professors about the danger of expediency at the expense of doctrine, he said, “We must be sure we are planting Baptist churches which have a commitment to the Word of God as infallible and inerrant.”

Hatley said the 510,357 IMB baptisms last year crossed the half-million mark for the first time ever, with 16,721 new churches started last year. Hatley called on pastors willing to commit two weeks per year to training foreign church leaders in doctrine and leadership.

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