Periodically, I look at my calendar and behold I have a Sunday clear. When those days occur, Sharon and I try to visit churches within an hour’s drive. I can report to you we have some great preachers and teachers of God’s Word serving wonderful churches.
One of those Sundays occurred last month. We visited a delightfully friendly church where the pastor did a great job of exegetical preaching. When the service began, there were the normal announcements. This time of year there is the appeal for people to prayerfully consider making a sacrificial offering to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.
The pastor made a great appeal for the Lottie Moon Offering and explained how powerful an impact it makes among the peoples where Southern Baptists have missionaries (or should I say “employees”). As he spoke, he held up the envelope especially designated for receiving the Lottie Moon Offering. You could tell – and I know by the pastor’s faithful reputation – that he was a true believer in the cooperative mission that Southern Baptist churches do together.
Southern Baptists do have the greatest missionary force engaged in reaching the peoples of the world with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the things that makes our team of missionaries sent out from all of our Southern Baptist churches so effective and sustainable are the millions of Southern Baptists who support them through their local churches when those churches give generously through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Our international missionaries do not spend a few months working on the field and then catch a flight home soliciting support. Our churches understand that they “hold the rope” of support for the missionaries. By cooperating together with the Lord and one another, we create a mighty river of support to reach the yet-to-be reached with the gospel.
At the conclusion of the worship service, the gracious pastor introduced me and asked me to lead the closing prayer. Part of my intercession was asking the Lord to help us be faithful in holding the rope of support for our faithful, sacrificing missionaries. At least sixty percent of these servants of the Lord are in high security areas of the globe where the use of their given name must be avoided. The vast majority of them are not coming home for Christmas to be with their extended families.
After the service, Sharon and I walked out to the guest parking area. Before we got in the truck, a smartly dressed lady walked up to me. Obviously, she was also parked in the guest parking area. I could tell she wanted to speak with me, “Sir, I want to give an offering in one of the envelopes. Do I give it to you or do I give it to the church?”
“You want to give it through this church,” came my quick reply. The local Southern Baptist church is the place for giving to our missionary enterprises. It is our churches’ cooperative giving with a designated offering emphasis in December that has provided the financial support for the most extraordinary mission endeavor in Christian history. You touch the world with the gospel through your local church.
In 2015, the Lottie Moon Offering from Missouri Baptist churches hit its highest peak at $4,244,074 (we cannot find any amount in our records that is higher). It is about time we hit a new record of $4,500,000.
How is that possible? One way is for a few people in each church to pray and catch the vision beyond what we can afford and to give with an open hand to the Lottie Moon Offering. What if each church family treated the missionary Lottie Moon as one of their own children for Christmas? What if someone challenged the rest of the church with a challenge offering? What if your church calculated what it takes to support a missionary unit for one week ($1,192.31) or for a certain number of weeks.
Let’s cast a vision that challenges our fellow Missouri Baptists to be the conduit of generosity toward those who take the gospel to those who have never heard. It’s time for the old record to be shattered.