Imagine the words you write today having the power to stir generations tomorrow. One woman’s hand written letters from more than a century ago had such an impact.
Lottie Moon, a single missionary woman, brilliant in academia and tenacious in spirit, passionately wrote letters that rallied the church to give to send missionaries. Her unapologetic way of asking people to give came from living in the epicenter of masses of people who had never heard the gospel. “The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent.” And silent she was not. “It is grievous to think of these human souls going down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus.”
Her words became a catapult that launched churches to join together to give to what is called the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. One hundred percent of the money is used for the purpose of sending and supporting missionaries. In partnership with the International Mission Board, churches have sent out thousands of missionaries to plant churches and make disciples among unreached peoples and in unreached places.
Why do we give to send and support missionaries?
- We give because we are captivated by the message of the gospel. The gospel is too good and the message of Jesus’ salvation is too great to keep to ourselves. As believers in Christ, we don’t give to a Christmas offering out of a holiday emotion, but because we celebrate salvation that came to earth. It’s this salvation that generates a generous heart and desire for others to know this gospel we have received. We give because in Lottie’s words, “Should we not press it home upon our consciences that the sole object of our conversion was not the salvation of our own souls, but that we might become co-workers with our Lord and Master in the conversion of the world?”
- We give because we love what God loves, and God loves the world. Love will cause you to do crazy things. Love for God fuels missionaries to go live in places they never thought they would, and causes believers to generously give in ways they never knew they could. God’s overflowing love for us creates an outpouring in our hearts of a love for the world. Over 3 billion people are unreached with no access to the gospel. That’s a statistic I have a hard time comprehending. To put that statistic into perspective, a little over 1 billion people live in the North and South America combined. In other words, three times the number of people that live in the Western Hemisphere are living and dying without the knowledge of our great God and the good news of Jesus Christ. To get to these places, it costs. To send missionaries, it costs. We give to send a message to people who have not yet heard the good news of God’s love.
- We give because we are called to be part of God’s mission. Jesus sent out the church on the same mission He had been sent. If we shrink our view of the Great Commission to something that was given to a select few, we risk living a small version of God’s mission that was given to the entire church. Paul called the church “co-laborers,” or partners, people who are working together to make Jesus’ name known. We cannot be passive about the Great Commission. We each must steward our part of participating in God’s mission. Let us by all means be willing go to the nations. But, if we stay, let us by all means generously give so that others may be sent.
Lottie Moon died on Christmas Eve. But it’s not her death on a December night that stirred others to give, rather it’s how she spent her life sharing Christ and summoning Christians to participate in God’s mission through giving so that others may eternally live.
The International Mission Board exists to partner with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God. 100% of money given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goes to sending and sustaining missionaries. You can give and find resources to help mobilize your church to participate in God’s mission through giving.
Lori McDaniel is a mom, pastor’s wife and church initiatives leader at IMB. She served with her family for several years in Africa before returning to plant Grace Point Church in Bentonville, Arkansas. You can find her on Twitter @lorimmcdaniel