I rarely take space in this column to address business issues of the convention. However, the board of directors of our state convention made some very significant, even historic, decisions that I believe need further exposure and explanation to our Baptist family. Therefore, over the next couple of weeks, I will use this space to share my perspective with you.

Last year set historic records in giving by our churches through the Cooperative Program and to state, national and world missions special offerings. Oklahoma churches gave just more than $2.2 million beyond our convention budget requirements through the Cooperative Program. What happens with these dollars?

Oklahoma Baptists are a missional people. We give because we want the Gospel to impact lostness from the front door of the church to the ends of the Earth. So in discussing the use of the overage dollars our focus was clearly on impacting lostness.

Oklahoma divides our Cooperative Program dollars 60 percent for Oklahoma and 40 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention. Our board made the decision to send 50 percent of the overage dollars to the SBC. Almost 75 percent of those dollars go to the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board for impacting lostness in our world. This means that for the very first time in our 100 year history, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma will give more than $10 million beyond our state through the Cooperative Program. Praise be to our great God!

Of the amount remaining in Oklahoma, most was directly targeted toward impacting lostness. Dollars were set aside for major evangelism projects in partnership with our associations and churches. We are absolutely focused on penetrating the lost population of our state with the Gospel, and we want to assist our churches in this effort.

New churches have proven to be more aggressive in reaching lost people. The board set aside significant resources to allow us to assist in the funding of more new churches in our state. There is a critical need to plant churches among ethnic groups. The population explosion among Hispanics alone requires more churches if we are to share the love of Christ with them.

Over the last several years, we have majored on partnerships with state conventions located in pioneer areas in America and with our missionaries abroad to expand our impact on lostness. With partnerships in Chicago, New Orleans, Utah-Idaho, Mexico, Armenia and Bangladesh, Oklahoma Baptists are deeply involved in penetrating the darkness with the light of the Gospel. Our board voted to set aside major dollars to invest in these mission settings.

Thank you for your faithfulness in giving through the Cooperative Program. Be assured that those dollars will not be used capriciously. With unbending commitment, we have focused the dollars you have given with the singular purpose of impacting lostness. Our people, our churches and our convention are on mission with Christ to seek and save that which is lost. Uppermost in our minds is the one lost sheep that must be found.