“Thirty miles from Pingtu City is a gold mine. Nestled close among low-lying hills are two foreign houses and the buildings over the mine. Several American miners are there in the employ of the Chinese government. These men are living a hard, dull, isolated life, in a remote region, far from home and friends, with the sole purpose of worldly gain. So much for the devotees of Mammon. One cannot help asking sadly, why is love of gold more potent than love of souls? The number of men mining and prospecting for gold in Shantung is more than double the number of men representing Southern Baptists! What a lesson for Southern Baptists to ponder.”
These words are just as relevant for Southern Baptists today as they were when Lottie Moon penned them nearly 125 years ago. While she served in China for nearly 40 years, Lottie became discouraged that Southern Baptists would not support missions more generously. Much like today, Southern Baptists had a hard time keeping their missionaries on the field due to a lack of funds. As a result, Lottie began to write letters such as this one back to the United States to challenge Southern Baptists to pray more for missions efforts around the world, to give more to missions efforts around the world, and to go to the mission fields around the world. She also challenged Southern Baptists to take up an annual offering around Christmas to make up the financial shortfall, and in 1888, the first Christmas offering was taken, and it has been received every Christmas since then. In 1918, Annie Armstrong urged Southern Baptists to name the Christmas offering after its founder who had died 6 years earlier. Hence, it became known as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, and it is just as necessary today as it was 125 years ago.
As most of you know, the International Mission Board receives Cooperative Program funding. However, approximately half of their annual budget comes from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. In other words, without faithful Southern Baptists giving sacrificially throughout the month of December to the LMCO, half of the 4800 Southern Baptist international missionaries would have to be called off the field. The 266,000 overseas baptisms resulting from the ministry of Southern Baptist missionaries last year would be cut in half. The 24,000 new overseas churches started last year would be cut in half. The 1.4 million individuals who heard the gospel presented by an international missionary last year would be cut in half. As you can clearly see, the LMCO is vital to the work of our International Mission Board.
Therefore, let me challenge the churches and individuals that make up our Pike Association of Southern Baptists to prayerfully consider how you can give to the LMCO like never before! Think of creative ways to give to this offering. For example, consider giving to the LMCO a matching amount to the most expensive Christmas gift that you purchase this Christmas season. In other words, if you purchase a new IPad, give the same amount that you paid for it to the LMCO. This is just one creative way to give to this offering, and you can visit the IMB website (imb.org) for more creative ideas. The main point is that the world needs us to sacrificially give so that they may hear the good news of Jesus Christ! Remember Lottie’s words: “One cannot help asking sadly, why is love of gold more potent than love of souls? What a lesson for Southern Baptists to ponder.”