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Missionaries, lost world depend on funds from Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Lives around the world are being eternally changed by Southern Baptists’ generous support of International Mission Board workers through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, IMB missionary Judy Miller says.

“People have embraced Jesus Christ as Lord -– not as a religion, but in a personal relationship, because of Southern Baptists’ sacrificial giving,” reports Miller, who works in Cotonou, Benin. She serves in a region of Africa where half the population follows Islam.

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering funds provided support for missionaries and volunteers to traverse the African bush to conduct a medical clinic that treated physical and spiritual needs in southern Benin. A woman who suffered at least three years from an excruciating toothache walked a long distance seeking help. A volunteer physician used equipment from his bag to remove the woman’s abscessed teeth.

When the woman realized her pain was gone, she began dancing. She heard a presentation of the Gospel. She saw Christ’s love in action as missionaries and volunteers tended to her sick and feeble neighbors.

At the close of the day, the woman who had suffered so long shouted, “I’m saved, I’m saved!”

Southern Baptists’ gifts directly influenced this woman’s opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. They also continued Southern Baptists’ recent trend of sacrificial giving -– and 2005 has been no different. The International Mission Board received almost $17 million to meet the needs of tsunami victims in Asia. The North American Mission Board and other organizations have received similar gifts for hurricane victims in the United States.

“We live in a world where there is a constant demand for funding that goes to worthy causes for the victims of terrorism, tsunami sufferers in Asia, and now tragedy on our home soil in the southern United States caused by [hurricanes],” Miller says.

“Thank you, Southern Baptists, for not negating your call to go to the ends of the earth sharing Jesus Christ and His message of redemption. Thank you for caring and ministering to ‘the least of these’ in the name of Jesus.”

During the Week of Prayer for International Missions (Dec. 4-11 this year), Southern Baptists traditionally give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The national goal for this year’s Lottie Moon offering is $150 million -– every penny of which will be used to support 5,122 missionaries around the world. The International Mission Board relies on the Lottie Moon offering for more than half of its annual income.

“We rejoice that this year has been one of the highest in terms of long-term missionaries appointed,” IMB President Jerry Rankin said. “Continuing that trend will be contingent on God providing the support needed through our churches.”

Rankin noted that unprecedented opportunities for spiritual harvest exist in many places -– and a lost world depends on Southern Baptists’ cooperative efforts to support their missionaries. In a year of tragedy at home, churches must help one another meet missionaries’ ongoing needs abroad.

“We have somewhere between 500 and 1,000 churches that just aren’t there anymore because of the hurricanes” on the Gulf Coast, said David Steverson, IMB vice president of finance. “So other Southern Baptist churches need to step up and stand in the gap for those churches that are -– at least temporarily -– out of commission.

“Southern Baptists have always responded in times of great stress. This is a period of great stress both here and abroad, and we’re confident that Southern Baptists will, once again, respond to the challenge to support our missionaries.”

At a recent meeting of International Mission Board trustees in Huntsville, Ala., trustees set an example for all Southern Baptists as they personally pledged $114,061 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. All 85 IMB trustees participated in the offering, promising $4,000 more than their original goal. They pledged an average of $1,342 each.

“With the number of long-term missionaries appointed this year being the highest in the history of Southern Baptists, it is vital our gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering be the greatest as well,” said Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., and chairman of the IMB trustee finance committee. “Nothing speaks to us about Christmas more than the word ‘sacrifice’ -– God’s gift to us, Jesus’ life for us and missionaries’ service to the Lord because of us.

“Your gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering will make it possible for all the nations to hear of God’s gift and Jesus’ life. ‘For God so loved the world, He gave….’ Will you be like Him and do the same? My prayer is we all will.”

Nearly one in four Southern Baptist churches did not participate in the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in 2004. But there’s still plenty of time, IMB officials say, for all churches to consider what God is leading each believer to give so the Gospel can be shared with all peoples.

“With more than 600,000 people coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ and being baptized last year, Southern Baptists’ efforts do have eternal impact,” Steverson said.

In this season of giving near the end of a year of great need, what is the hottest Christmas gift?

Missionary Judy Miller believes it’s the gift of eternal life -– as exhibited by the West African woman who celebrated salvation on the day of her new birth. It’s the same gift believers celebrate when they remember the birth of the Savior. As Jesus Christ said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).

People interested in registering their church’s goal for the 2005 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering may do so at the IMB’s ime.imb.org/goal website. For additional information about how gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering will impact missions, visit ime.imb.org/offering.

    About the Author

  • Julie McGowan