It is now just about a month until we gather for our 4th annual Global Missions Conference here at Morningview, and I hope you will make every effort to be in attendance for all of the activities.  This year, Chuck Lawless will be our keynote speaker.  Dr. Lawless was one of my professors at Southern Seminary, and he served there for several years as the Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  Just a few months ago, Dr. Lawless was appointed to the International Missions Board as the Vice President of Global Advancement.  We are blessed to have one of the foremost missions leaders of our time leading our Conference.  He possesses keen insight into the missionary task and I have no doubt that he will inspire us as we seek to advance our efforts in Central Asia and South America.

We will also welcome back one of our mission partners this year.  Ted will be here in person to lead some breakout sessions and to update us on his work in Central Asia.  Jeremy will also be speaking in one of our evening sessions via Skype.  Leaders from our recent Ecuador Mission Trip will be briefing us on our ongoing partnership with Steve and Carol Thompson.  Hearing first-hand reports of what God is doing in them and through them as they seek to raise up disciples of Christ among their people groups will be a tremendous blessing, and it will also help us develop a more detailed vision of how we will be partnering with them as we move into 2012.

We will also have the blessing of fellowship with them and with each other as we gather for 2 different meals in the course of the weekend — Friday and Saturday evening.  At the Saturday evening meal, we even plan to have some foods from our partner regions so that you will be able to sample local cuisine.  You won’t want to miss it.

Also keep in mind that we will receive our World Missions Offering in conjunction with our missions conference.  In years past, we had the blessing of giving above our normal tithes and offerings to support our Lottie Moon offering for the International Mission Board and our Annie Armstrong offering for the North American Mission Board.  Our combined giving to those offerings was around $20,000.  Last year, we consolidated those two offerings into one World Missions Offering and we received over $32,000.  $25,000 went to Lottie Moon, $5,000 to Annie Armstrong, and the remaining $2,000+ went to directly support our missions partners.  What a tremendous outpouring!

The goal I would like us to exceed with our World Missions Offering this year is $35,000.  We will have the privilege of giving to this offering just as we are receiving hands-on experience and eyewitness reports from those who are serving in the field.  I trust that over the next several weeks, we will all pray diligently and consider carefully how we can make significant financial sacrifices so that we are able give liberally and cheerfully to God’s work among the nations.

On a final note, as we anticipate our upcoming missions conference, I would like us to continue in prayer for our partners from Central Asia, Jeremy and Cyndi.  As many of you know, they are currently stateside because of a pregnancy complication.  Their little boy, Jonathan David, has been diagnosed in utero with spina-bifida.  He is due to be born in mid September.  Please pray for God to heal little Jonathan.  Please pray that Jeremy and Cyndi would be at peace in their hearts, resting in God’s good sovereignty.  Also pray for their work in Central Asia to be strengthened and to continue even in their absence.  As far as we know, our adopted people group there is still completely unengaged, so pray for only doors and faithful indigenous evangelists.

I am truly excited about all that God is doing in and through us, especially how He is shaping and sharpening us as a force for world missions.  So join me in praying for this event and participating in it when it arrives.  It will be an incredible time together!  I love you all dearly.