Southern Baptists have missions in our DNA. Since 1845, Southern Baptists have talked, prayed, given and gone so the Gospel could be taken to the ends of the Earth. We have sent our children to serve in places of which we had no knowledge. The one thing we did know was that they had a call on their lives, and they were going to a place where the Gospel was scarce.
Through the years prior to 1925, we struggled to keep pace with the needs. Money for missions was dependent upon the missionaries who could get to the churches and take an offering. It was an inefficient system. In 1925, Baptists took the single most important step toward exponentially expanding the spread of the Gospel. Our churches adopted a plan to consistently collect and send money to support missions from the front door to the ends of the Earth. The new plan was called the Cooperative Program. Each church decides its commitment to missions beyond the church and sends a percentage of its undesignated gifts through the Cooperative Program to reach their state, nation, and world.
From the outset, Southern Baptist missions made dramatic progress and today is the largest Christian-sending denominational organization in the world. Our international mission efforts count more than 5,000 missionaries. Initially, the focus was on only a few places, with China being one of the great mission fields. Today, Southern Baptists are in every part of the globe because our churches give cooperatively, unselfishly and consistently to support the extension of the Gospel.
Until recently, names of missionaries and the fields where they served were shared. Today, many of the missionaries serve in places we cannot identify, and therefore cannot promote their mission efforts because of security. For this reason, it is all the more important that churches give faithfully through the Cooperative Program to support these missionaries.
In 1888, Southern Baptists established a special offering that individuals could give through to support the work of “foreign” missions. The offering was named after one of the first missionaries, Lottie Moon. A lifelong missionary in China, Lottie Moon died on Dec. 24, 1912, in Japan. Her life and legacy set the bar for mission service and because of this, Southern Baptists chose the Christmas season to receive the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that is a huge part of the support for our international missionaries.
Today, the national goal for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $175 million. Giving to this offering is a great opportunity for each of us to demonstrate our commitment to share the Good News with people who have never heard the Gospel. The need is greater than ever. Our mission board is focused on taking the Gospel to places where the name of Jesus has never been heard. You and your family can personally be a part of the great gospel mission of Southern Baptists by giving a generous gift through your church to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Each year, I challenge families to give their largest gift to the work of Christ. Involve your children in giving a gift from your family to missions. Explain to them where the money will go and why Southern Baptists give this money during the Christmas season. It is not only important to give, but also to pass a heart for missions on to your children. Make this a part of their giving DNA.
We’ve a story to tell to the nations!
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.