Since 1888, Southern Baptists have given a special offering for International Missions during the Christmas season. In 1919, it was named after Lottie Moon, one of our early missionaries to China. The seeds she and others like her planted in China are now becoming a great harvest.

It is fitting that we give to missions at Christmastime. It is our way of recognizing the first mission offering, which was given by God in the sending of His Son. We have received the indescribable gift of God in Jesus. Our hope for today and for eternity is in Him alone.

That is the message our missionaries seek to deliver to the peoples of the world. They leave home and family to invest their lives in the work of the Kingdom. Because I have traveled to many mission points around the world, I can tell you my heart soars as I think about our missionaries and their work.

Our missionaries are an extremely gifted group of people from various backgrounds. People trained as doctors, engineers, teachers, business entrepreneurs and high level executives dedicate their skills to the work of the Kingdom in some of the most challenging places on Earth.

They are some of the most spiritually dynamic people I have ever met. Whether serving in the villages of Africa or the inner cities of Asia, they know that their first and most important job is to walk with Jesus. I constantly am amazed at the level of prayer and faith exhibited by our missionaries.

For these dedicated people, the heart of all they do is the Gospel. They are willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Gospel. No challenge is too high, no road too difficult. These God-called people serve with a “whatever it takes” attitude. Our missionaries are passionate about providing the opportunity for every person on Earth to have the privilege of hearing the Gospel of our Savior. Day in and day out, they pour their lives out for the sake of the Gospel.

If they are willing to go, then we should be willing to hold the rope for them. We, the people of God, should be just as dedicated to the Gospel as they are. Our commitment is played out during this Christmas season through giving.

I know these are difficult financial times. For many, it will require more sacrifice than ever to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. But we are never more reflective of the heart of the Father than when we give sacrificially for the Gospel’s sake.

I am reminded of the Macedonian Christians who gave not out of their wealth but out of their poverty. In this down economy, some could excuse themselves from giving to missions. But I want to challenge us to spend less on “stuff” and give so that our missionaries can take the Gospel of the light of the world into the dark places.

It is a choice, albeit a tough one for many this year. But be assured that your gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering will keep giving long after the necktie is cast aside and toys are given to Goodwill. Your gift will invest in the eternal destiny of people who have not heard the Good News.

Join Polla and me in making a sacrificial gift through your church to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Our missionaries and their work await our generosity.

Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.