More than $2 billion has been given to missions efforts in North America since collections began in 1895.
Confirmation of the exact total is still a few days away as the North American Mission Board’s fiscal year has just wrapped, but officials watched giving cross the $2 billion mark June 30.
The milestone for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions was announced by NAMB President Kevin Ezell as he shared a report with members of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee meeting in Nashville on Sept. 20.
“It is humbling to look back over the years and think about all the missionaries who were supported and all those who were introduced to Christ because of this ministry that was sustained by this offering,” Ezell said in earlier remarks. “The impact on eternity can’t be measured this side of heaven.”
In 1895 the Woman’s Missionary Union began collecting an offering for the Home Mission Board (predecessor to NAMB). In 1934, the offering was renamed after Annie Armstrong in recognition of her tireless work as an advocate for home missions. Armstrong served as WMU’s first national leader (corresponding secretary).
“It is simply astonishing that what began as coins placed in paper mite boxes has surpassed the $2 billion mark,” said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, WMU’s executive director. Armstrong distributed thousands of mite boxes to Southern Baptist women and encouraged them to give sacrificially. Most were small donations which, multiplied by thousands, added up for a significant impact.
“Annie Armstrong once wrote in her notebook, ‘The widow’s mite is still in circulation. Coined in the mint of self-sacrifice, its influence is being felt today by every member of the church of God.’ A century later, the influence of the sacrificial gifts of Southern Baptists continue to touch eternity. Because of these gifts, the gospel is shared, churches are planted, lives are changed and families are transformed,” Wisdom-Martin said.
The offering provides half of NAMB’s annual funding. Everything given to the offering is spent on missionaries and on the missions field. Money given to the offering is spent in the year in which it is received.