I spend a lot of time crisscrossing the state on Interstate 40, so much so that I jokingly call it “Randy Davis Boulevard.” The landscape constantly passes, but rarely changes. It’s the people, however, who make Tennessee special.
And the people change. One way we change is our increasing numbers. Our population is rapidly growing. People are relocating here from around the country and around the world bringing racial, ethnic, economic, religious — and non-religious — diversity. There are more dissimilar people now living in Tennessee than ever before.
However, as significant as our diversity is, it is more important to focus on what we have in common. People need Jesus — to be saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship. Our population is growing faster than the gospel is advancing. The result is that every year our state is becoming more spiritually lost. The reality: any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field.
I’ve been saying that for the past several years. It’s a belief based on what I see as I travel Tennessee’s interstates and backroads.
The fields are truly white unto harvest. The great news is that I believe Tennessee Baptists have heard the message that they live in a mission field and have rallied to the need. Tennessee Baptists are serving and giving in record numbers. That is evident by the astounding increase in giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions over the past few years.
Tennessee Baptists set an all-time state missons giving record during the 2018-2019 GOTM giving year that ended Aug. 31. We gathered in $1,920,733.07. Wow! That’s a big number and not far off our goal of $2.1 million.
But let’s put that into a larger perspective. That was a 6.9 percent increase in giving over the previous year, which was a record year. And over the past six years, Tennessee Baptists have increased their giving through the Golden Offering a whopping 32.2 percent.
That is an astounding figure considering that leading financial publications are reporting that charitable giving is down overall in 2019. Not with Tennessee Baptists. You are giving in record amounts and I believe it is because you see the white fields and want to be a part of the harvest. With all sincerity, I want to say thank you. Your generosity has enabled a Kingdom impact in the lives of your family, friends and neighbors.
But how? In what way is your investment reaping an eternal reward? That’s what I’d want to know. Well, because of your generosity:
- Tennessee Baptists added many new church plants including some in strategic inner-city areas that are multi-ethnic.
- Boys in a youth detention facility receive Bibles and discipleship material. More than 110 have been saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship over the past few years.
- TBMB is helping more than 400 churches currently in some stage of a revitalization process
- Muslims and other international students are coming to Christ through Baptist Collegiate Ministries while studying at one of Tennessee’s many universities.
- Children from some of our most impoverished counties received Christmas backpacks filled with gifts, toiletries, school supplies, and a gospel presentation. Hundreds came to Christ as a result.
- Nearly 500 children representing 48 of Tennessee’s 145 ethnic people groups attended All Nations Camp and 196 made decisions to follow Christ.
The list goes on, but I wanted you to see a snapshot of the impact you had through your giving last year and to know that your financial gifts only pass through the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
We apply those resources as quickly as possible to so many different strategic opportunities on your behalf.
It is important to pause and celebrate what God has done — and is doing — through Tennessee Baptists, but let’s not rest. Let’s work while it is still daylight. Let’s press on into the harvest fields.
Our GOTM goal for 2019-2020 is again $2.1 million. Our Objective 5 goal is $3 million by 2024 which means we need hundreds of additional churches that don’t currently participate to join the many who do. It also means an 11 percent increase per year.
It’s a stretch but I believe together we can get there. Our motivation is a love for our Lord. Our marching orders are the Great Commission. Our burden is for those among us who desperately need Jesus. Our reward is knowing we have joyfully and obediently done the Lord’s work and been a part of growing His Kingdom to the glory of Christ.
It is truly my joy to be on this journey with you.