RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–One woman saw a need — a need for more missionaries and more resources to reach the lost for Christ. Because of her urgent desire to tell all of China about Jesus Christ, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering had its beginnings over a century ago. Today, thousands of missionaries depend on Southern Baptists’ gifts to continue sharing God’s love worldwide.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was named after Charlotte Diggs Moon, born Dec. 12, 1840, legendary missionary to China who wrote hundreds of letters encouraging others in the United States to become missionaries. She pleaded for more personnel, more money and better training and support for missionaries.
Moon’s letters caused many controversies. She wrote passionately about missionary needs and loneliness, women’s freedoms in missions and the need for more church involvement.
In the first national offering in 1888, the Women’s Missionary Union raised $3,315.26 for overseas missionaries — their goal had been $2,000. Moon had wanted another single woman to help with the mission in China. The offering was enough to send three women to help Moon.
Moon served in China until her health declined in 1912. During the famine that year, Moon had given everything she had to help others and left nothing for herself. She had stopped eating and died in Kobe, Japan, Dec. 24, 1912, on her way home.
Because of her willingness to live and to sacrifice for Christ, she has inspired thousands of men and women to become missionaries. Through the years, Southern Baptists have faithfully given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supporting the thousands of missionaries serving worldwide.
Today, more than 5,000 missionaries are supported by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. From its humble beginnings of more than $3,000, the offering has grown into a $150-million-goal partnership between Southern Baptists and missionaries all around the world.
Moon’s legacy in China has continued.
Oliver Graham* and his wife Joy* left everything behind — a high paying job, family and friends — when they chose to work in China. Now, more than 55 churches have started because of the Grahams’ work with Chinese Christians.
Using new technology, Lori Funderburk ministered to the Banta Themne people group of Sierra Leone in West Africa. A civil war in Sierra Leone prevented work with the Banta Themne. Using e-mail, Funderburk engaged a group of “ordinary American housewives” in the United States in intense prayer for the Banta Themne, which encouraged a Sierra Leonean church to commit to reach this group of 40,000 with no known believers.
And because Southern Baptists have faithfully supported the offering, missionaries were already in place to minister in areas devastated by last December’s tsunami and the more recent earthquake in Pakistan.
To continue the work by Southern Baptist missionaries to reach the lost for Christ and to send new workers God has called to go, this year’s goal is $150 million.
Resources are available to help with the 2005 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering include:
— The International Mission Board has sent each church a pastor’s guide and a missions leader’s guide, which include an interactive CD and video on DVD.
— Resources to order and more than a dozen videos, five PowerPoints and a selection of photos, available for download at http://ime.imb.org/resources.
— Sermon outlines focused on the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, both in the guide and at http://ime.imb.org/pastors.
— Thank you notes from missionaries available at http://ime.imb.org/thankyounotes.asp.
— The Week of Prayer brochure and poster and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering envelopes, distributed to churches by Woman’s Missionary Union state offices.
— The International Mission Study for all age groups, sold through WMU at http://www.wmustore.com and LifeWay Christian Bookstores. This year’s study is on India.
*Names changed for security reasons. For more information on the 2005 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering resources go to http://ime.imb.org. To register your church’s goal, find out how much other churches are giving and receive a free copy of Beth Moores’s “Voices of the Faithful” book, go to http://ime.imb.org/goal. To find out how you can be involved in missions, go to http://going.imb.org.