Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy New Year! I thought it was about time to post to the blog. When I started this blog, I never intended to go so long without a post. However, there is no New Year’s resolution to make more entries to the blog.

We were able to fly home to Texas the week before Thanksgiving. That was nice. I was able to catch 2 Cowboy’s victories in 5 days! One of the downers of this Stateside happening has been the ongoing cancer treatment saga with Jody’s dad. Between the treatment for multiple-myeloma and colo-rectal cancer, our schedule has been turned upside down. The good part is that there is treatment and it is ongoing. We have made several trips back and forth to Little Rock. We’ve put over 3000 miles on our vehicle since 21 December.

We have had the opportunity to share about the Lord’s workings in South Africa in many churches. Our first opportunity was at FBC-Tecumseh. It was good to reconnect with the many people who pray for us. They are one of the churches that we had contact with before we went to the field. We stayed in their newly remodeled mission house – what a blessing that was. We then traveled to FBC-Stonewall for their evening service. Though nothing “official” was planned, I was able to share for about 15 minutes in their evening service. It is always good to go back to Stonewall. I was also able to share at a church in Kilgore, TX. Of course, we had the morning service at Oakland Heights Baptist Church on Lottie Moon Sunday. The love we feel there is over whelming. Being able to stay in their mission house is an incredible blessing. We also had a wonderful opportunity to go to a Global Impact Conference at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Ft. Worth. What a wonderful weekend to share our story with so many listening and interesting people. An honoring engagement we had was speaking at the Diamond Set meeting at First Bossier. Many of these people were involved in my life while I was in the Youth Group at First Bossier. A reoccurring comment that I received was “Wow, you did grow up!” I really have no idea what they could be talking about?!?!?!

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering Each year, the International Mission Board encourages people to contribute to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering which supports Southern Baptist missionaries around the world. For us, the Lottie Moon funds provide our salary, health insurance, a place to live, a vehicle and petrol and many and various ministries. If it were not for the Lottie Moon offering, we would be responsible for personally raising thousands of dollars each year to be able to serve overseas.

Last year, the IMB set a goal to raise $171 million dollars to support more than 5,600 personnel serving internationally. Last year giving fell short by more than $30 million dollars and was $9 million less than the previous year. The shortfall in giving prompted IMB leadership to make some difficult cuts in budgets across the board including:

*Long term apprentice personnel – 300
*Journeymen – 100
*2+2 personnel – approximately 50; sent in partnership with SBC seminaries
*New partially self-funded Masters – 30
* suspending appointment of more than 200 new missionaries
* reducing the number of new positions worldwide from more than 1,200 jobs to 300
* budget cuts of up to 60% for strategy leaders on the field
* medical care no longer being covered 100 percent
* canceling of stateside debriefing conferences and also some regional meetings and prayer retreats on the field which are so meaningful for our missionaries.
* indefinite suspension of some critical short term missionary programs.

Despite not reaching the 2009 goal, the IMB still received the third largest Lottie Moon Offering in history. This year, the IMB has set a goal of $175 million in hopes to return to a stronger budget and ability to send more missionaries into the world. We humbly ask each of you to prayerfully consider giving sacrificially to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year.

Right now the plan is for us to remain in the States until mid-March. I am looking forward to returning to South Africa and getting back to work. Thanks for your prayer - they are so meaningful to us.