RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–If you’re a Southern Baptist and ever wondered who Lottie Moon is, you aren’t alone.
Maybe you recently joined a Southern Baptist congregation. Or you were raised in a church that doesn’t participate in the annual missions offering. There are plenty of others who have little or no knowledge of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering -– or the woman behind its name. Last year, more than 10,000 Southern Baptist churches did not participate in the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Many also do not realize that 100 percent of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goes to the overseas budget of the International Mission Board, supporting more than 5,000 missionaries who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ worldwide.
At Cornerstone Baptist Church in Sarasota, Fla., Beverly Cleveland took an active role in providing information about Lottie Moon and the offering she inspired –- and was surprised by the difference it made.
Cleveland agreed to help promote last year’s offering for her church, where she has been a member for 20 years. She is one of about 150 to 200 older adults, mostly retirees, who regularly attend the church. Most of the congregation lives on a fixed income.
Cleveland was surprised by the questions she encountered while promoting the offering. “I had all these people coming up who had never known who Lottie Moon was. Some of the people have seen the [Lottie Moon Christmas Offering] poster go up for years, but they just didn’t know much about it.”
Cleveland put together a short program detailing Moon’s life and the purpose of the offering. She displayed a photo of Lottie Moon and explained that 100 percent of the offering went to overseas missions.
The church also displayed a Lottie Moon poster accompanied by lights. A new light was added for every $50 given toward the missions offering. A short biography of Lottie Moon and history of the offering also were included in a church bulletin.
Cleveland shared how Moon had served as a missionary in China for 39 years and how she encouraged Southern Baptists to give and pray for the Chinese. Moon’s letters detailed China’s hunger for the Gospel and helped raise $3,315 to send more missionaries to the country.
Moon ultimately gave her life to missions in 1912 when she died from starvation on a ship docked in Kobe, Japan. Family members were saddened when they found Moon’s near-empty trunk. She had given almost all she owned to the people of China, who were victims of a famine.
Cleveland’s efforts to educate the congregation about Moon’s sacrifice paid off. The church exceeded their $2,500 goal.
“We decided not to take the poster down until we made our goal,” she says. “We didn’t want to give up.”
Cleveland hopes other churches will learn how the sacrifice of missionaries such as Lottie Moon can impact the world for Christ.
“I was so glad that I had the opportunity to share [Lottie’s story],” she said.
To learn more about the life and work of historic missionary Lottie Moon, go to ime.imb.org/lottiemoon. For more information about the 2006 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, go online to ime.imb.org. To register your church’s goal for the offering and to see what other churches plan to give, go to ime.imb.org/goal.