Arkansas Baptist State Convention
EACH YEAR in Arkansas thousands of teenage girls become pregnant.
A 15-year-old girl who walked into A Woman’s Place Pregnancy Resource Center in Cabot was one of those statistics. Before coming to the center, her mother had pushed her to have an abortion, but then they met the director of the care center, Vikki Parker, who began counseling the mother and daughter. After several months of counseling, the young girl agreed to carry the baby full-term.
Today the young mother has completed high school and college and is currently attending graduate school. She is married to the father of the baby that was born as a result of the wise advice she received at the pregnancy care center. The couple is expecting their third child and is actively serving in their local church.
Since the beginning of the year, 22 women have prayed to receive Christ and 88 babies have been saved from abortion as a result of the workers from 20-plus pregnancy care centers that partner with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC).
These success stories represent just a few of the many lives changed as a result of Arkansas Baptists’ gifts to the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering.
Each year in the month of September, Arkansas Baptist churches focus on Arkansas missions by giving a portion of their tithe to the Dixie Jackson offering, which the ABSC oversees and uses to fund Arkansas missions efforts. This year’s theme – Undaunted! – comes from the 2013 Dixie Jackson theme verses Numbers 13:30 and 14:5-9. The need to be “undaunted” in reaching Arkansas with the good news of Christ is the focus of this year’s offering.
The Arkansas missions offering is named after Dixie Jackson, the leader of the Arkansas Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) for 15 years during the 1910s and 1920s.
Jackson was diligent in training WMU leadership, speaking in churches on behalf of missions and establishing an annual season of prayer for state missions. In 1928, Arkansas WMU asked that an offering be taken for state missions. Jackson became ill and died in 1929. In honor of her service, the state offering was named “The Dixie Jackson Offering for State Missions” in 1935. The first offering was approximately $1,000, and today the goal has grown to $1.45 million.
“This year I hope people have an awareness of what Dixie Jackson does. So many times we are not aware of what goes on,” said Robby Tingle, ABSC team leader for the missions ministries team.
The Dixie Jackson offering funds many ministries in Arkansas. One of the ministries the offering funds is new church plants – church plants like New Day Fellowship in Eureka Springs, which has seen their church grow from a dozen people to nearly 100 people in attendance one recent Sunday morning.
“All the church planting that goes on in the state, Dixie Jackson plays a significant role in funding the church plants,” said Tingle.
So far this year, 17 new churches have been planted thanks to Arkansas Baptists giving to the Dixie Jackson offering.
Another one of the areas that has seen growth this past year is the multihousing ministry. Breck Freeman, church and community ministry strategist for the ABSC missions ministries team, said multihousing is defined as people who live in apartments, trailer parks and retirement centers.
Nearly 150 church leaders from around the state attended a recent multihousing conference hosted by the ABSC to find out how their churches can reach people who live in these types of housing units.
“Statistics show us that 57 percent of Americans live in multihousing, and 95 percent of these people living in multihousing are without Christ. Everything we do to help churches reach multihousing is funded by Dixie Jackson,” said Freeman.
Some of the other ministry areas that the Dixie Jackson offering supports include disaster relief, chaplaincy, addiction recovery, inclusion ministry and community ministries.
“It is our hope that churches will realize that Dixie Jackson will play a key role in helping us as a cooperative convention of churches impact lostness in our state,” Tingle said.
He encourages Arkansas Baptists to work together in order to make the greatest impact on Arkansas missions.
“Whether it’s a dollar or a thousand dollars, we all collectively get to be a part of missions in our state when we give to Dixie Jackson,” Tingle said. “We do more together than we can do on our own.”
The suggested dates for churches to participate in the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering this year are Sept. 15-22. For more information, visit www.absc.org/dixiejackson.
Matt Ramsey is director of communications for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.