December 5 2011 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

    After being inaugurated in November as the 11th president of IMB (International Mission Board), Tom Elliff expressed his appreciation to North Carolina Baptists for their ongoing support of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and their willingness to embrace the unengaged, unreached around the globe with the gospel.
     
    N.C. Baptists gave a total of $11,652,395.33 to the 2010 Lottie Moon Offering, and 18 of their churches were ranked among the top 200 offering givers. The Baptist State Convention (BSC) also has committed to challenge Baptists in the state to take the gospel to 250 unengaged, unreached people groups over the next 10 years.
     
    “Knowing [BSC] leadership, I wouldn’t have expected anything less,” Elliff said during a phone interview.
     
    “Anytime I hear of a state convention [like North Carolina] stepping up to the plate and hearing the state leadership say [they’re] going to lead our churches in engaging the unengaged people groups of this world, to me that kind of leadership speaks of vision, compassion and a passion to see the great commission fulfilled.”
     
    12-05-11elliff.jpg

    BP Photo

    Former IMB President Jerry Rankin prays for his successor as denominational leaders, seminary presidents, IMB trustees and missionaries lay hands on Tom and Jeannie Elliff at Elliff’s inauguration Nov. 14 as the newest president of IMB at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.

    Despite economic challenges around the globe, Elliff remains optimistic that Southern Baptists can step up to the challenge of this year’s Lottie Moon goal of $175 million. The total amount raised by Southern Baptist churches last year fell $8.3 million less than IMB needed to meet its 2011 operating budget.
     
    “All together I believe if we give, throwing ourselves on the providence of God, I believe our $175 million Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is achievable,” he said. “But only if we are willing to do that,” he added. “Awakened hearts, by the very act of giving, catapult themselves into God’s economy rather than man’s economy.”
     
    Embracing the challenge
     
    This past summer, Elliff challenged Southern Baptists to “embrace” 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups – those with no church-planting strategy and less than a 2 percent evangelical presence – at the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.
     
    “God gave me a very clear picture he has painted on the walls of my heart that could only be by His grace,” Elliff said. 
     
    “And part of that was seeing the unengaged people groups of this world engaged.”
     
    According to the latest available IMB figures at press time, 70 North Carolina churches had committed to exploring how their church can embrace an unengaged, unreached people group. A total of 968 Southern Baptist churches have made that same commitment. “It’s encouraging to hear the convention as a whole believes that this is a responsibility that belongs to us,” Elliff said.
     
    “We have several state conventions that have said this is what we’re going to do,” Elliff said. “I think the Lord is going to bless in an unusual fashion, each of those … that have such a passion for the world – not just the folks on their doorstep but folks all over the world.”
     
    “That to me is an exciting prospect.”
     
    This year, IMB’s media department highlighted two North Carolina churches – Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount and Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Englewood was featured this past summer for their ongoing work among the Koli, a formerly unengaged – but still unreached – people group in South Asia. Old Town was highlighted for their efforts to pursue an unengaged, unreached people group in Southeast Asia.
     
    Melissa Lilley, BSC research and communications coordinator, has also been following Old Town’s journey. The stories are available on the BR website, BRnow.org. Elliff clarified that helping finish “the task” is not the IMB’s responsibility, but it is the responsibility of all Southern Baptists. “This is the task of every believer,” he added. “My belief is that the best ideas for missions are still out there in the pews of our local churches.”
     
    This year, IMB has hosted several Embrace Equipping Conferences around the country. Next year, IMB will host three other conferences: Highland, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; and Graceville, Fla.
     
    For more information on how your church can receive training on embracing an unengaged, unreached people group go to call2embrace.org. Or for information about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering go to imb.org.  

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    12/5/2011 2:46:27 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: IMB, Lottie Moon Offering, Tom Eliff, unreached, unengaged people groups




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