Time passes, transitions happen, and generations come and go, but I pray we as Southern Baptists never lose the missionary spirit of Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon.
Lottie Moon stood no taller than 4 feet 6 inches tall, but she cast a shadow that’s stretched for more than 100 years. Lottie left for China in the early 1880’s and gave 39 years and her life – literally – to the Chinese people as a teacher and evangelist. Among her monumental Kingdom contributions was the foundation she laid for support of international missions among Southern Baptists through a special offering.
Just a few years after arriving in China she saw the great needs among the people, and the great opportunity for Southern Baptists to invest financially in work that would echo for eternity. Writing from China in 1887, she called Southern Baptists to “consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth.” She linked generous giving to the advancement of the Good News. This call for financial support eventually became known as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO).
We as Southern Baptists have two primary financial avenues through which we support the global advancement of the gospel: The Cooperative Program and the LMCO. Both are vital lifelines to supporting our global mission effort. In the spirit of Lottie, we set aside this time of year to generously “consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth.” It is right that we do this. God has richly blessed us, but He has blessed us to be a blessing to others.
I am especially excited about this year’s LMCO as it is the first offering that falls under the International Mission Board’s newly elected president, Dr. Paul Chitwood. Paul is a good and personal friend of mine, having served as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Over the past several years, I’ve observed him lead people with distinction, but more importantly I’ve seen him follow Jesus with passion. I am confident our missionaries will thrive under Paul’s leadership and I am excited to know that he will lead Southern Baptists in a Great Commission charge towards the ends of the earth.
I can think of no better way to welcome Dr. Chitwood than by presenting him with the largest LMCO offering ever collected by Tennessee Baptists. Our record is $11,602,745.17 in 2015-16. I believe we can easily surpass that.
Over these past several years I have observed Tennessee Baptists generously increase their Cooperative Program giving, increase giving to the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions by more than 24 percent and give millions to assist in helping people locally and globally dig out and recover from disasters with the help of Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief.
It would be impossible to be prouder of our network of churches and the Tennessee Baptists who fill those churches. So, I’d like to challenge you to stretch beyond the LMCO goal you may have set for your church.
As you do, think about our Southern Baptist missionaries. Better yet, think specifically about that one you may have worked with in some far-off land, or, think about that family that went out from your church.
All ordinary people answering an extraordinary call, many of them serving in difficult and hostile places. They’re ours. They represent us. Let’s pour out our prayers and our financial generosity on them and for the work they do.
And remember, there is no greater financial investment you will ever make than giving that results in altering the eternal destinies of spiritually lost souls. Let’s respond to Lottie’s challenge for the sake of the gospel and for the glory of our Savior.
It truly is my joy to be on this journey with you.