I didn’t see this photograph as I was growing up, but I’ll never forget this strong-jawed young girl. I heard about her long after her death in Japan on Christmas Eve, 1912. She wrote a letter in 1887 that is said to have been …
… credited with providing the impetus for the creation of a Southern Baptist offering to support international missions, which later became the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
In our First Baptist Church of Cottondale, we’re not affiliated with this mission offering. We send our missionaries a little differently. Those called to missions present their plans to several churches, who then decide through congregational vote to support – or not. Our church doesn’t have a set amount, just a set percentage of our weekly offerings, along with any offerings specified for missions.
The church in Antioch did it similarly:
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:1-3 KJV)
They did a good job. We read about it Acts, and in Paul’s letters to the churches as he continued the work he was called to do. The church at Philippi is an example – they cared for Paul:
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. (Philippians 4:10 KJV)
These churches were able to show their care for specific missionaries, getting to know them, hearing about their travels, the people they’ve met and hearing from their supportive churches:
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.(Philippians 4:14 KJV)
We get that, too – letters from missionaries we support are on our lobby walls, pictures of their families, where they are serving and their prayer requests. And, we are in contact with them. Several are on social media, allowing us daily contact. Paul did not have such an option, and some failed to communicate with him:
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. (Philippians 4:15 KJV)
I know the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is important to the Southern Baptist Convention, but I like our methodology better. It creates a partnership between the congregation and the missionary. That’s good for the congregation as well as the missionary:
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 KJV)
That is so true when our need is to support those we are sending to fulfill Christ’s command:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)
Not all are called to a faraway mission field. But we are all called to be in His service, even when that calling is sending another.