Dear Church Family,
For almost 140 years, December has marked the month Southern Baptists have given toward what is now known as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Lottie was born on December 12, 1840, she was born again around December 21, 1858, and died December 24, 1912 which makes this a particularly fitting month. But in her own words, this is why Lottie thought the timing of the offering was right. She wrote, “Need it be said why the week before Christmas is chosen? Is not the festive season, when families and friends exchange gifts in memory of The Gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race, the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth?”
Many of you will know that Lottie Moon served as a missionary in China for almost 40 years. She was a constant advocate for Southern Baptists in the states to send more missionaries and more money to support the great harvest there. What you may not know is that her life ended in depression with her denomination’s unwillingness to provide what was needed in either of those areas. In fact, her death followed receiving the news from the Foreign Missions Board that they were in debt and would not be able to send any more missionaries until they were in the clear. Meanwhile, she had stopped eating the necessary amount of food in order to share with the poor locals she was ministering to.
In drastic efforts to restore her failing health, those serving with her and her doctors decided she needed to get out of the country. But while aboard a ship, she died around one of Japan’s harbors. The captain wrote that she “died of melancholia and senility.” The woman who had been with her at the very end wrote, “It is infinitely touching that those who work hardest and make the most sacrifices for the Master should suffer because those in the homeland fail to give what is needed.”
Contrast this with the account Paul gives of the churches of Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. He writes, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” He uses their example to challenge the church at Corinth to join in this gift saying in vv.13-14, “I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.”
In 2018, our church ended the year close to $15,000 in the red. You may remember our special times of prayer for the Lord to provide and guide. This year, through the month of November, we are over $48,000 in the black. I hope it’s not lost on you that the Lord has more than tripled the amount of money we lacked into an abundance. Just stop for a moment and thank Him for how He has exceeded our expectations so wonderfully.
Now, in the spirit of Lottie Moon and with the challenge of the apostle Paul, let me plead with you to give from the sincere belief that it is more blessed to give than receive; that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully; that God loves a cheerful giver; and that ultimately, He has given us the inexpressible gift of salvation by giving to us His Son. May the Lord bless us as we delight to give for the spread of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.