2003 Davis offering unusually vital
Texas Baptists are getting ready to raise one of the most important offerings in their history.
Beginning Sept. 14, the Baptist General Convention of Texas will collect the 2003 Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas missions. Rarely, if ever, has an offering been needed more.
Due to a variety of reasons–among them an ailing economy, increased needs within churches, years of denominational controversy and a short-sighted sense of stewardship–the BGCT's Cooperative Program missions-and-ministry budget is slumping. For the third year in a row, receipts are coming in at a double-digit deficit. We are not alone. A recent survey conducted by the Standard revealed budget woes at numerous state and national conventions. But company does not reduce misery, and Texas Baptists who empathize with the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of our state feel miserable.
For example, Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, meaning Texas Baptists face an unprecedented demand for starting churches. However, the BGCT already is out of church-starting money for the year. Similar needs exist among all types of ministries. We require more financial support for sharing the gospel with and meeting the needs of untold thousands of newcomers along both sides of the Mexico-Texas border, through River Ministry, borderland associations, benevolence ministries and others. We need more money to enable Texas Baptists to be “the presence of Christ” in broken homes, behind prison walls, among college and university students, with people who could only comprehend the gospel if they hear it in a language other than English. We need to equip one another for the work and ministry of the church. The needs seem endless.
So, Texas Baptists have no choice but to reach this year's Mary Hill Davis Offering goal, $5.1 million. No matter how pinched you feel by the economy, no matter how much your church can use all its income, no matter how you feel about some recent developments within our convention, you can be assured every penny of your Mary Hill Davis Offering gift will be used directly for ministry and missions. It's the best investment you can make in the kingdom of God.
Woman's Missionary Union of Texas promotes the Mary Hill Davis Offering and prepares the allocation guide for the offering. Here are some of the new items on WMU's wish list:
$15,000 to provide interns and materials to equip churches to evangelize, disciple and train international students who are training in Texas and plan on returning to their homelands.
$20,000 to enable Hispanic students and lay leaders to conduct evangelism blitzes among Hispanics in key cities across the state.
$10,000 to provide storybook Bibles to 5,000 at-risk children in 15 cities. Quite likely, these will be the first Bibles owned by these children and their families.
$4,000 to help students from East Texas Baptist University start a church in Laredo.
$75,000 to help fund the Emerging Church Network, a specialized ministry that works with the BGCT Church Starting Center to enable churches to minister to an “emerging culture” of people who are not likely to be reached by traditional churches.
$35,000 to enable churches to share the gospel with people in unusual settings, such as Padre Island beaches, Piney Woods campgrounds, Davis Mountains hiking trails and “winter Texan” campgrounds in the Rio Grande Valley.
$40,000 to help the BGCT Center for Community Ministries develop resources on how to reach and keep at-risk children and youth in the church.
$5,000 to assist Asian churches in Texas to hold an evangelistic camp for their youth; it will encourage youth ministry in the churches and train future leaders.
Those items alone total just $204,000 of the $5.1 million goal. Among other needs are:
$150,000 for the BGCT's Key Church strategy, which focuses on churches doing missions.
$1.25 million to start at least 259 mission-minded churches.
$75,000 to support missions initiatives in multihousing complexes, which are home to 49 percent of all Texans but incredibly hard to reach with the gospel.
$45,000 to assist churches and associations as they minister to families in crisis, who are at risk of crime and violence.
$104,000 to provide health care along the Mexico-Texas border through River Ministry.
$105,000 to help Hispanic Baptist Theological School train Texas leaders of the future.