By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – John Hebert wants Louisiana Baptists to think big about how their gifts to the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering can lead to a great harvest of lost souls in the state.
“I can’t emphasize enough the important role the Louisiana Baptist state missions offering has on furthering the Kingdom in the state,” said Hebert, state missions and ministries director for Louisiana Baptists. “Without the strong support of our churches through this offering, we don’t have a missions program to the level it is today. I’d hate to imagine what life would be like without it.”
— Without the offering, homeowners in Connecticut last May who were saved because of a Louisiana Disaster Relief chainsaw team response may never have heard the Gospel.
— Without the offering, the Baptist Builders may not have been able to assist 10 mission churches in 2017 with planning, building or remodeling facilities.
— Without the offering, Louisiana Baptists might not have planted 223 new churches since 2010 and would not have witnessed 12,491 new commitments to Christ, and 3,293 baptisms.
— Without the offering, the CENLAPregnancy Center in Alexandria would not have benefited from a grant to help purchase start-up materials and supplies that resulted in serving more than 100 families since it opened in December.
— Without the offering, 53 students would not have received a Woman’s Missionary Union Scholarship to Louisiana College for 2017-2018.
— Without the offering, participants in the Girls Mission Camp and Missions Jamboree may not have heard the Gospel last year. Six made professions of faith in Christ at the Girls Mission Camp and 16 made decisions to follow Christ at Missions Jamboree.
— Finally, without the offering, hundreds of people would not have viewed an online Gospel presentation through the “Here For You” multi-platform media strategy designed to give every person in Louisiana the opportunity to say “yes” to Jesus.
While the ability to do missions in the state would be more difficult without the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering, the good news is every year Louisiana Baptists step up and faithfully give to support missions and ministries throughout the state. This year’s offering goal is $1.7 million.
“Think Big” is the theme for this year’s offering, based off 2 Corinthians 9:6.
“The missions offering makes it all possible,” Hebert said. “Of course the Holy Spirit is the prime mover in our work, but the support of these missionaries, church planters and other Louisiana Baptist ministries is dependent on the money received from the state missions offering.
“We know God does it all,” he said. “But we benefit in many ways by giving our money to help Him accomplish Kingdom work of Louisiana Baptist ministries.”
The Georgia Barnette State Missions offering is named after the first elected and paid Woman’s Missionary Union executive director/treasurer in the state. She would travel by boat, pirogue, horse and buggy and train from her home in New Orleans to other areas of Louisiana to visit state missionaries who were planting churches.
Because of generous giving to the state missions offering, Louisiana Baptists are able to continue the vision of Georgia Barnette more than 110 years after she first led women to begin taking up an offering for state missionaries in 1907. The offering was named after her in 1937.
Sept. 16-23 has been set aside as Week of Prayer for State Missions.
Resources, including videos, demonstrating the scope and impact of the Georgia Barnette Offering, have been mailed to churches across the state. Additional resources are available online at www.GeorgiaBarnette.org.
Lane Corley, church planting strategist for Louisiana Baptists, published a blog in late July highlighting some of the ministries that have received funds from last year’s Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering. According to Corley, through the first five months of 2018, money dispersed from the 2017 offering has provided:
- $157,000 in church planting and compassion ministry funding for more than 100 projects
- $37,000 in funding for the Baptist Mission Builder program providing construction resources for churches across Louisiana
- $18,000 for church planting, networking and training for non-English language groups in Louisiana
- $29,000 for men’s, women’s and kids’ missions training and networking
- $20,000 for special evangelism projects including prison outreach and evangelistic event support
- $85,000 for collegiate ministry
- $30,000 for the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Extension at Angola State Penitentiary
- $9,000 for ESL (English as a Second Language), multi-housing and chaplaincy training projects across Louisiana
- $3,000 for Crisis Pregnancy Resource Centers across Louisiana
- $12,000 for Disaster Relief training and mobilization
The Georgia Barnette Offering also allows all Louisiana Baptist churches, regardless of their size, to support a church plant. Corley said $750 given through the state missions offering funds a church plant supplement for one month.
“It’s a way every church can be involved in church planting through an offering to Georgia Barnette Offering,” he said. “A church may say we are too small to plant another church, but through the Georgia Barnette Offering every church can be involved in church planting.”
He said the offering will help meet a goal of planting 300 new churches by the year 2020.
“It really fuels our church planting efforts across Louisiana,” Corley said. “Our church plants receive supplements and free training that can be expensive otherwise. This funding helps provided a lot of fuel for our 223 churches planted since 2010.”
Gibbie McMillan, state disaster relief director for Louisiana Baptists, said his budget relies on funds from the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering. Through the generous gifts, Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers receive the necessary training and equipment needed to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those impacted by a hurricane, flood, tornado or other natural disaster.
“Without the Georgia Barnette Offering we would not have any funds to operate disaster relief,” he said. “This is vital to our continued training and being prepared for the next disaster that is coming. Not if it happens but when it happens.”
Moving beyond the ‘what if’
Janie Wise, women’s missions and ministries strategist for Louisiana Baptists, added that, too often, Christ followers limit their thinking and therefore limit the possibilities of seeing God move. This is the year to look beyond limits to the “what if,” she said.
“What if we meet our $1.7 million goal,” she said. “The means for assisting church plants would be multiplied. Resources for training disaster relief volunteers and mission education leaders would be increased. The partnership for compassion ministries would expand. Support funding for missions teams of children and adults would be available.
“To reap an abundant harvest, the farmer sows generously,” she said. “That’s how we must think and pray about reaching our state for Christ and support these efforts. This year we must think big, pray large and give abundantly.”
Even though the week of prayer for the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering is a few weeks away, churches are encouraged to begin promoting it now. Churches that have not yet received promotional materials should call the LBC Women’s Missions and Ministry office at 318.448.3402.