Since the beginning of the pandemic, the IMB sent more than 500 new missionaries, and in 2020, it engaged 247 new people groups and places, IMB President Paul Chitwood reported.
In 2019, more than 500,000 people heard a gospel witness from IMB personnel, but in 2020, that number jumped to 769,494. More than 144,000 of those chose to follow Jesus — an increase of more than 50,000 over 2019 numbers — and 18,380 new churches were started.
But so much more needs to be done, Chitwood said.
That’s why the IMB continues to work toward five strategic targets in a five-year plan they announced at the beginning of 2020 — send an additional 500 missionaries, mobilize 500 global missionary partners on IMB teams, engage 75 global cities with comprehensive strategies, increase giving to IMB by 6% annually and mobilize 75% of Southern Baptist churches to support the IMB with prayer and finances.
Historical LMCO surpasses $5 billion
The IMB’s work also continues to depend on Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Chitwood said. At the end of March, the offering surpassed $5 billion in total gifts since the offering began in 1888.
Chitwood expressed gratitude for Southern Baptists’ generosity and for the support of National Woman’s Missionary Union, which — in a “herculean effort” — wrote more than 18,000 handwritten notes to churches that had not previously given to the offering.
“Now more than ever your financial support is needed,” Chitwood told messengers. “We live in an age of lostness unmatched in human history. Thus the global need for missions is more urgent than ever before.”
Every person dying without hope “deserves our unrelenting devotion to the cause of Christ,” he said.
Chitwood also thanked Southern Baptists for their prayers for missionaries including George Smith, who along with his wife, Geraldine, has served for years as a missionary to Uganda. Smith contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and quickly deteriorated — he was on dialysis and a ventilator, and doctors said there was nothing more they could do. But as churches all over the world prayed, God answered, and Smith’s health improved.
As missionaries continue to live and serve in the midst of pandemic struggles around the world, Southern Baptists’ continued partnership is necessary to steward well the Revelation 7:9 vision, Chitwood said. “Your partnership, your cooperation, is essential.”