By Philip Timothy, Managing Editor
In an enormous outpouring of financial support for the Georgia Barnette State Offering, Louisiana Baptists have helped to make history.
When the final tally was in, the GBO had not only surpassed the $1.85 million goal set for the coming year by $133,000 but was just $17,000 shy of topping the $2 million mark. The $1.98 million – $1,983,000 to be exact – is the most ever received, and eclipses the previous high mark of $1.72 million set in 2011 by an impressive $262,000.
“God is so good,” Mission and Ministry Director John Hebert said. “We have just received the highest total ever for the GBO. This kind of blessing is a testimony that our churches strongly support missions in Louisiana.”
The Georgia Barnette Offering partially funds – 46 percent – the Missions and Ministry team budget, as well as provides funding for the LBC’s Mission Church Builders, Disaster Relief, Church Planting, Resort Ministries, training conferences and leadership training/missions education events – RA/GA, and scholarships (the WMU Christian Education Scholarships and Christian Vocational Service Scholarships at Louisiana College.)
“The GBO is the whole package for missions in Louisiana … it is the lifeblood of this division,” Hebert said. “With this offering we can be more aggressive in missions. Without it we would lose our aggressive edge.
“This year’s offering is an affirmation from churches across the state that they want to see our work – education, training, special mission projects, churches planted and built and people being brought to Christ throughout this state – continue.”
Hebert now has the enjoyable task of re-allocating funds to the different ministries. He will especially be focused on supplementing his division’s church planting efforts.
“As most are aware, we are tasked with planting 300 churches by 2020,” Hebert said. “That would be more than 30 churches a year. This is part of an action plan drafted by a presidential commission formed by Waylon Bailey in West Monroe, unveiled at last year’s annual meeting in Alexandria and approved by the messengers.
“This is a vision shared by many – the DOMs who support and partner with us; the pastors of the local churches who have embraced it, and most importantly Louisiana Baptists across the state who have shown just how much they believe in this vision,” Hebert said.
“Therefore, this historic offering is not just a success for the mission and ministry team but for all Louisiana Baptists in their efforts to reach the lost across this state and to expand the Kingdom,” Hebert added.
Hebert is quick to spread the credit for this year’s historic offering to the work of his staff, including Women’s Missions and Ministry Strategist Janie Wise, the LBC communications teams, the Directors of Missions statewide, and pastors throughout the state.
“Janie [Wise] and her people did a super job of spearheading the effort and she worked closely with the communication team to promote and show the importance of the offering to Louisiana missions. She simply did a tremendous job pulling it all together,” Hebert said.
“Louisiana Baptists responded to the 2013 Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering with visionary commitment, seeing what must be done now to reach our state for Christ and continuing to lay a foundation for what will be needed down the road,” said Wise. “We were given a challenge which we exceeded. The new challenge is to remain faithful givers, rising to whatever it takes to reach the lost for Christ, to plant new churches, to meet physical needs and to teach missions.”
Hebert, though, saved his biggest ‘thank you’ for the ones who did the actual giving.
“I work nationally with people who do not have these type of resources, and it is a somber reminder just how blessed we are to have this type of support from our churches. Without this kind of support, we would not be able to do our work,” Hebert said. “So, thank you Louisiana Baptists for believing in our work. Thank you so very much for being so generous in your giving.”