I would like to tell a story about an incredible giving church. I was at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, MO the other day as a part of their Global Missions Conference. They featured Kevin Ezell, President of NAMB on Sunday morning and Baptist Global Response (BGR) on Sunday night. About 40 ministries/missionaries attended coming from local ministries in Springfield, the state of Missouri, other states and international entities.
The church is led Senior Pastor John Marshall. The missions pastor, who helped put it all together along with his great staff, is John Edie. John Edie had contacted BGR out of the blue last year and asked if we could be there representing BGR and Southern Baptist relief and development work overseas. When I said "yes", I had no idea of the blessing that I was going to experience.
This is a church that believes in missions. Almost 25% of their annual budget is given to missions both domestically and overseas. Their annual budget for their Global Missions Offering is about $600,000 each year! On Sunday night during the BGR focus, they not only gave generously but held one of the most creative and inspiring missions program I have ever been a part of.
The idea was to get all their people involved and connected with some type of international aid through BGR. So they took our BGR gift catalogue from our website, made a brochure promoting individual and group giving that was very personalized. They promoted the giving idea months in advance to their membership and small groups in a way that each person/group could give a specific thing to help someone overseas.
For instance, a Sunday School class could give $1,000 to provide a water system in a developing country. A children's group could give $25 to provide a water filter for a family overseas. A goat could be purchased for $50, a pair of rabbits for $25 and 20 chicks for $15. All of this would go through an existing BGR project to help someone in need around the world.
On Sunday evening, the service started with worship in song and a quick interview of BGR by John. We basically told the congregation what BGR does and how a mosquito net, a goat or a water filter helps people and helps us also share God's love. Then the chaos and what I call "parade of love" started.
Animals were brought into the sanctuary representing what the members' donations would go for. Rabbits, chickens, a goat and even a cow made an appearance on stage! Sewing machines were marched down the aisle representing micro enterprise. Water filters, blankets and mosquito nets were also brought in. Then, the children were invited to bring their coin offerings up. They had been saving for months to "buy" an article of their choice to send overseas through BGR.
If that was not enough, Sunday School classes and small groups began coming forward in six different areas to microphones and began sharing what their group or they as an individual were going to do. Remarks like, "such and such a Sunday School class was going to sponsor one water system for a needy community." Some classes said they wanted to buy one of everything. Families pledged to purchase goats, cows and chickens for needy families outside the USA. Small children came forward and pledged their allowances to buy a pair of "bunnies" for another child. The GMC participating ministry leaders were at the front of the church recording all the gifts given on whiteboards. It was total chaos and it was a total thing of beauty!
At the end of the evening, the members of Second Baptist gave about $65,000 to help with overseas needs through BGR. Unofficial tallies of what was given included:
28 water systems for developing countries,
139 water filters for needy families,
75 sewing machines for micro-businesses,
25 BGR In Home Care Kits,
280 mosquito nets,
121 starter chickens,
75 pair of rabbits,
41 cows and
65 stock for fishponds.
The whole evening was overwhelming. It was chaotic, festive and very moving.
I want to thank John Marshall and John Edie for having such a wonderful, giving church. I would even call them an incredible giving church.
Thank you Second Baptist, Springfield, Missouri. You have blessed a lot of people around the world with your generosity!