With Christmas approaching, the Southern Baptist Convention will host its annual Christmas donation drive dubbed the “Lottie Moon” Christmas Offering. Addressing Agape Press reporter(s), SBC International Mission Board President Dr. Jerry Rankin stated that though larger churches receive attention for giving large offerings, smaller churches have also given out considerable sums as wells.
“The most thrilling thing for me is to hear from a lot of our little churches -- [those] with just maybe 30 or 40 members, or less than a hundred members -- that give far beyond what they would have ever envisioned being capable of giving in the past,” Rankin shares. “It's only through everyone doing their part, and every individual giving whatever they can, that it all comes together.” (Agape Press)
The money garnered from donations will finance thousands of missionaries the SBC plans to send. At this time, the SBC have no less than 3,000 candidates in the missionary appointment process.
“Our missionaries are going [into] places of danger and risk -- and in many places, it's not because of their Christian witness [that they are at risk], but simply because of a hostile environment represented by our world today,” the SBC official explains. “And yet they seem to be undeterred. In fact, the passion seems to be greater than ever.”
In the last two years, eight SBC missionaries were martyred including four of whom were killed in Iraq this year. The fund drive was named for a young SBC martyr who had devoted her life to serving the Lord in China in the late 19th century. Born to a wealthy southern family, Lottie lived a comfortable and relatively stable life. However, the young woman shared a vision for testifying the gospel to the ends of the earth.
In 19th century Western eyes, China seemed like the furthest region any Christian would ever evangelize. Fueled with this passion for missions, Lottie left for China by herself at the age of 32. Initially shunned by the locals, Lottie gradually gained their trust by baking and sharing homemade tea cookies first with the children, and then gradually with the elders. Though delivering the gospel, Lottie won many Chinese to Christ.
In 1911, Chinese nationalists overthrew the Manchurian dynasty. One year later, China erupted into civil war as former-Imperial generals formed their own fiefdoms and contested bitterly for control. In this period that followed, China was plunged into devastating famine and starvation. During this period, Lottie took what little food she had, and divided it equally amongst the Chinese Christian community she helped establish. She quietly suffered until she died from adverse malnutrition.
Lottie Moon’s story is a testimony of the missionary spirit that has, and continues to, thrive in the SBC community.