http://www.imb.org/main/news/details.asp?LanguageID=1709&StoryID=10757

If you go to the above link, you will read an article that should intrigue you.  And as my post title implies, it contains bad news, good news, and a challenge.  So, how about me sharing some of my impressions concerning this article?

For those of you reading this post who may not know her, here’s a little info on Lottie Moon!


Lottie Moon – the namesake of the international missions offering (image above) – has become something of a legend to us.  But in her time Lottie was anything but an untouchable hero.  In fact, she was like today’s missionaries.  She was a hard-working, deep-loving Southern Baptist who labored tirelessly so her people group could know Jesus.

Why was the offering named for this early China missionary?Throughout her career, Lottie Moon wrote numerous letters home, urging Southern Baptists to greater missions involvement and support. One of those letters triggered Southern Baptists’ first Christmas offering for international missions – enough to send three new missionaries to China.

http://www.imb.org/main/give/page.asp?StoryID=5524&LanguageID=1709

Now that you know what I’m talking about when I refer to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, let’s continue.

As you know my son and his lovely wife are now serving as foreign missionaries.  Obviously, I have taken on a much greater appreciation for the L.M. Christmas offering. When the team they work with, first moved into their quarters they had no electricity!  Try to imagine having a 4 yr. old, a 2 yr old, and an infant in one family unit, and a newly pregnant (first time) mom in the 2nd family unit, all living together without electricity!  Difficult, I know, but here’s where Lottie Moon comes in to save the day.  After living like this for about 5 months a crew comes in and installs solar panels and voila’ electricity.  Thank you Lottie Moon!

The vehicles the two families use are provided by Lottie Moon Offerings as well.  Can you understand why I love Lottie Moon?

Now, here’s the point I’d like to make regarding the link posted.

 The Bad News:

Around Christmas time every year, an offering is taken up whose main function is to provide for our foreign missionaries.  You know, like pay their salaries, insurance, provide what they need for ministry, etc.  We do this as Southern Baptist so our missionaries don’t have to worry about raising these funds themselves and can focus on their ministry instead.

Well, in 2011 the goal of $175 million was set for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  However, the goal was not reached.  What did that mean for our missionaries?  Cutting back, obviously!  But sadly it also meant that some of our people who were hoping to be appointed as missionaries didn’t get sent.  Why?  Simple, not enough money!  For example:

While supporting missionaries overseas becomes more expensive each year, the troubled U.S. economy has affected church offerings. Last year, IMB trustees were forced to curb appointments of new missionaries and suspend two short-term missionary programs entirely, initiating a gradual reduction in the IMB’s global missionary force. The reduction eventually will lower missionary numbers from the high of approximately 5,600 (reached in 2009) to 5,000 through natural attrition — completions of service, retirements, and resignations.

“We are grieved that budget limitations will force us to continue to restrict new missionaries being appointed,” Rankin said earlier this year. “This is not just a disappointment to individuals and families called of God to serve overseas, but it means many unreached people groups will be deprived of hearing the Gospel yet another year. 

http://www.sbclife.org/Articles/2010/12/sla8.asp

HOWEVER, THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS:

RICHMOND, Va. —“Extremely grateful.” That’swhat IMB President Tom Elliff is saying about Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, which reached $146.8 million last year — the fourth highest total in the offering’s 123-year history.

Now I’d say that’s definitely a step in the right direction, wouldn’t you?  And for all of us parents whose children are foreign missionaries, this gives us hope that our loved ones are going to be cared for and their desire (and ours) that they reach more people for Christ will be fulfilled.

NOW I’M OFFERING YOU A PERSONAL CHALLENGE!

Ever since my son became interested in missions, I have been praying this simple prayer:

Dear Lord, Please help our SB churches not to be slack in their giving to missions, to be faithful in what they do give, and to have the faith to increase the amount they give. (I pray this for home missions and foreign mission offerings.)

Imagine my joy when I read the article that indicated SB had increased their giving to LM in 2011!

But after reading that article, I’ve felt impressed to add to my prayer the following:

Please God, help SB Churches to meet their goal of $175 million in 2012 for the Lottie Moon Christmas offering!

Think about it–if individuals will commit to increasing their giving, then the obvious results will be that our SB churches will increase their giving.  AND OUR PRAYERS WILL BE ANSWERED! ! ! !  But remember,

IT STARTS WITH US!

So, Pray and Give, so they can Go!

Note:  “They” may become “You” someday!  That’ll make the LM Christmas Offering personal!