Can you believe it is Christmas time already? The year flew by and I notice that as the years behind me grow and those in front shrink, it seems to fly by even faster!
In 2016, the Missions ministry was busy—three foreign mission trips, three six-week training events, and hosting a pastor and then a missionary from Panama within the last month. As givers, FBC Wentzville was all in for the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas offering and the 2016 Annie Armstrong Easter offering. Our Lottie Moon offering goal was $25,000 and you gave $26,153. Three months later for the Annie Armstrong offering, our goal was $12,000 and you gave $14,145. Church, you are generous!
So, let me add some color to the black and white above. In January, five of us went to Panama to work with First Baptist Church of Chitre, led by Pastor Cecilio Solis who visited us the end of October and early November. We helped with Vacation Bible School and there were 72 children attending, up from 56 in 2015. Then, although just three of us returned in March to share the gospel in the public high schools, we were still able to go into 43 classes and share with 753 students and teachers.
In July, a medical team of fourteen of us went to Puebla, Mexico for a week. We worked in two villages, Guadalupe Tecola and Santa Maria Tecola, where we helped 363 people and had 68 professions of faith. Tracy Smith wrote a great blog about that trip back on August 9, if you want to read more. But, in short, it was a marvelous trip and I hope more of you take the opportunity to experience it.
On the training side, we had three classes this year, each session a little more than an hour for six sessions. We had 16 people complete the program this year, with nine of them going on a mission trip this year! The scholarships that have been generously donated helped people to go, who otherwise would not have been able to afford to make the trip.
We have three mission trips scheduled for 2017. Two trips will return to Chitre, Panama—January 21-28, and then September 16-23. We will return to Puebla, Mexico on July 22-29. The work will be community assistance with Vacation Bible School, or evangelism in the schools or neighborhoods. Details are being refined, but watch the weekly bulletin and the church website for announcements with details.
For training in 2017, we are trying something different. In addition to the six week class, we are going to offer two alternatives. On February 19, 26, and March 5, we will complete two chapters per meeting, so the classes will be two and a half hours long, but will be finished in three weeks! The other option is a little more difficult. It will be all day, May 6, from 8AM to 4PM—one session. But, it will be completed in a single day! Think about these options when you start considering how you are going to spend your time next year.
Several members of the church indicated interest in working with a church in St. Louis. In October, five of us met with Todd Genteman, the pastor of Apostles church which is a new church plant down off the Del Mar loop in St. Louis. We are still in early discussions, but don’t be surprised when we start looking for volunteers for work in the city next year.
In closing, let me finish the way I began. The year 2016 flew by and the Lord was gracious, letting us help in His work around the world. By His grace, 2017 will be just as busy, if not more so! This time of year, we celebrate the gift of our Savior and share our blessings with others. The 2017 Lottie Moon Christmas offering is in full swing, supporting over 5,000 missionaries around the world. The SBC goal for 2017 is $155Million. Our goal is $27,000, an increase of $2,000 from last year. Pray about what you can give. If you heard from our missionaries to Central East Asia in worship, or Tim Louderback at the Missions Dinner, you know how much they and all SBC missionaries rely on the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
We look forward to discovering what the Lord has is store for us in 2017, and we want each of you to join us as we engage in ministry at FBC Wentzville.