That’s what the World Health Organization has called it ever since 1977, when they first began to publish the Model List of Essential Medicines. Essential. Humble saline solution. Well, perhaps not so humble, since it needs to be less than one quarter as salty as ocean water and both sterile itself and delivered in a sterile way, whether to our eyes, noses or veins. Still, it is surprising to think that in the midst of all the amazing scientific and technological advances in medicine (for which I am deeply grateful!), something as old and relatively simple as saline solution plays a foundational role. Simple, but central.
Something similar is true in mission. I am excited by all the creative things that are happening in the mission of Christ across our country and around our world. I love the innovative approaches and the use of the latest tools and technologies (including ingeniously simple appropriate technologies!). But at the heart of the innovative complexity is profound simplicity: in Christ, God loves, rescues, and redeems us; Christ breathes the Holy Spirit into us, making us his friends and coworkers in service to God’s Reign. Jesus Christ is God’s life-saving saline solution. As his life flows into us, he enables us also to be part of the saline solution. Jesus in us, Jesus through us: the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).
Something similar is true in mission support. Since well before I became a part of this mission society thirty-five years ago, the World Mission Offering (which we called the World Fellowship Offering, in those days) has been at the heart of supporting God’s work around the globe through American Baptist International Ministries (IM). Today, there are a variety of ways to give to the work God is doing through the global servants, projects and partners that together make up the ministry of IM. Each one is vitally important, and each has a specific function. But there is one simple, central way to give that undergirds the whole mission: the World Mission Offering (WMO).
Like all IM’s global servants, I need to build a network of support for the specific ministry to which I am called. So, I am eager to welcome people and churches to give and to pray very specifically for this little piece of the whole mission of IM. (Really! Let’s talk!)
At the same time, I both give to the WMO personally and am deeply grateful for all who do. There are lots of reasons for this, but here’s just one: whenever giving to support any of our global servants is below what is needed for their service, it is the WMO that makes up the difference. So, even in the very focused work of supporting IM’s global servants, we keep people serving through a both-and approach: both personalized support through targeted giving and central support through the WMO. There is much, much more to say, but I hope this helps you to understand one reason why I continue to give to the WMO. Join me!
This year’s WMO theme is “You Are the Salt of the Earth,” based on Matthew 5:13. Jesus, God’s most foundational and most comprehensive saline solution continues to deliver saline to the world through all of his followers. Your gift to the WMO is a giving solution that is also a saline solution, helping to deliver that life-changing saline to women, men, boys and girls all around the world. Thank you for helping to spread salt throughout the earth. Thank you for your support of WMO!
May the Spirit make you salt and light in the mission field where God has placed you today,
P.S. A quick trip to Mexico: As I write, I am preparing to speak in Mexico City at the graduation ceremony of the first group (or cohort) of students to complete the Spanish-language online Master of Theological Studies program jointly offered by Palmer Theological Seminary, the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, IM and several seminaries scattered throughout Latin America. I can’t wait to hug people I have known so far only as disembodied voices, video clips and thumbnail photos like the ones above (a screenshot from my computer during one of our online class sessions)! I am grateful for the privilege to be able to help them be Christ’s salt and light in their local contexts! Together, we thank you for your gifts both to my support and to the WMO—both are enabling me to serve these dear sisters and brothers this weekend!