Why would an Alabama church more than double their Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving?
Because the senior pastor went on a short-term mission trip, serving with International Mission Board personnel in South Asia, and the whole church caught a vision for the work of IMB missionaries.
Luke 4:18 Fellowship in Mobile, Alabama, gave $20,662 to the Lottie Moon offering in 2021. They’d already revamped their missions program and increased their giving. But their new goal for 2022 was to give $60,000, enough to fund one missionary on the field for a year. Though the church came up short of that goal, their LMCO giving hit $46,469. They have no plans to slow down their praying, giving, going and sending through the IMB.
David Bullock, pastor of Luke 4:18 Fellowship, became convinced, on a mission trip partnering with IMB workers James and Angela Andretti, that he wanted his church to partner with the IMB financially and through short-term trips.
That was exactly what associate pastor Randy Presley had hoped would happen when he, Bullock and a church member with a heart for the nations joined in the core missionary task alongside the Andrettis.
Bullock said he’s been a Southern Baptist his whole life, but this trip was his first time on the ground, up close and personal with what the IMB is doing.
“Seeing it showed me how structured the IMB is and how well the IMB does when it comes to supporting their missionaries and what they’re doing on the field,” he said.
Used for the kingdom
The Andrettis told him how the IMB cared for their son and prioritized his health when there was a medical emergency. Bullock also got to witness firsthand what continued discipleship and pastoral training looks like in the South Asian context.
“The trip really demonstrated for me not only that they’re doing a phenomenal job, but that every penny we give to the IMB is going to be used properly for the Kingdom,” he said. He is excited to send more of his members overseas to see how the Andrettis are reaching the world from South Asia.
“The harvest is plentiful there. God is moving. And wherever the harvest is, we want to be a part of it as well,” Bullock said. “We’ve always been a giving church. I want us to focus on not just being a giving church, but a going church.”
Associate Pastor Presley had been convinced of the value of partnership with the IMB for years, leading his former church on more than 25 short-term mission trips to serve with the Andrettis in South Asia. He’d also led that church to prioritize giving.
Now, Presley serves at a church that’s less than 15 years old. The church has been supportive of giving — just more focused on giving to individual and independent missionaries. Presley was hired to grow the church’s missions’ program.
“I see missions as an opportunity for us to disciple our people and expand their worldview,” Presley said. “I want the experience to stretch them outside of their comfort zone to a place where they have to trust the Lord, so they see the Lord use them.”
He said he wants his church members to come home asking themselves either how they can translate what they learned into everyday life at home or whether they’re called to the nations.
Presley was convinced that once Bullock experienced the ministry in South Asia himself, he’d also catch a passion for partnership.
Bullock got to witness “the strategic partnership” the Andrettis have in South Asia, said Presley. “Everything James was doing was on purpose. As [Bullock] heard more of that, he got more excited.”
The Alabama team did more than watch and listen. They joined in the missionary task alongside the Andrettis.
For this specific week in November 2022, the missionary task focused on what James calls “mid-term discipleship.” National church leaders are taught a series of 25 stories and follow-up questions to use to equip their congregations:
— What does the story say about God?
— What does it say about man?
— Is there a sin to confess?
— Is there an example to follow?
— Is there a command to obey?
While this model works well for discipleship in South Asia, it can work well in any context. Church leaders who come on short-term trips can easily replicate the model in their churches back home.
By the end of the trip, Bullock was as excited about partnership as Presley was. And they were both ready to go home and share this vision with their church. Two more trips are planned, and the partnership between the missionaries and the church is set to flourish.
Earlier this year, the Andrettis joined Luke 4:18 for a missions conference where they connected with the church members personally and talked about their ministry.
There, they got to share firsthand how generosity from churches like Luke 4:18 impacts what they do overseas. Any gift helps provide gospel access that leads to gospel belief and church planting and multiplication. Luke 4:18 understands this and is dedicated to being part of the solution to the world’s greatest problem, lostness.
*Some names may have been changed for security purposes.