I have always marveled at the church in Macedonia. Paul constantly found joy in their response to his mission endeavors and their willingness to give out of their poverty. Hard times did not keep them from opening their hearts and keeping the focus on what was most important. They were partners with him in the work of the Gospel of grace. Indeed, even the unbearable circumstances of a Roman prison could not dampen Paul’s joy in the church at Philippi.
In these tough times, we can learn much from those New Testament saints. Hard economic conditions did not prohibit them from giving to the work of the Gospel. They willingly sacrificed so that Paul and his colleagues could take the Gospel to the unreached.
It is an incontrovertible fact that we are living in the toughest economic climate since the Great Depression. Some of you know the reality of the times more than others. You have lost a job or your business has suffered. Tough times are, well—tough.
But tough times are great opportunities to experience God’s provision and to be a part of His provision for the work of the Gospel. To give in hard times requires faith to trust God in obedient response to His direction. God will never call us to give what He will not provide for us to share. Our job is to seek His direction and step forward in obedient faith.
This year many find it a challenge to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Tough times and financial struggles may dampen our enthusiasm for giving. They need not. God is our provider, and our only requirement is to hear His voice and give what He directs. After all, it is His money—not ours. We are just stewards.
Why would God challenge us to give in these tough times? One reason is simple. The work of the Gospel must continue. Today’s opportunities to advance the Gospel are unparalleled in Christian history. God has opened doors in many of the darkest places on Planet Earth. The Gospel is being declared in the vast regions where Islam rules. The spread of the Gospel in the largest communist country on Earth is beyond imagination. Church planting movements in India and surrounding nations are advancing the Gospel in unprecedented ways. Without question, these are the greatest days for the work of the Gospel. We must not retreat now. We must be willing to sacrifice in order to give.
Another very powerful reason is that God continues to call out people to join the ranks of mission workers around the world. Southern Baptists are not hindered by a shortage of workers willing to go. We are held back only by the lack of money to send them. I am certain that God would not call workers if He were not willing to provide for their going through the gifts of His people.
I am confident that Oklahoma Baptists, along with our fellow Southern Baptists across America, will give a record-breaking Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Even in these tough times, we will emulate the generous people of faith from Macedonia. We will give even out of poverty because we believe the work of the Gospel to the nations cannot wait for better days. We can do without new clothes, furniture and toys. We can give smaller gifts to family, but we must not give less for the sake of the Gospel.
So I challenge you to go to your knees. Ask God what He wants you and your family to give to the Lottie Moon Offering for missions around the world. Don’t just give your usual amount. Unprecedented opportunities for the Gospel demand unprecedented sacrifice and giving. I have no doubt that God will lead His people to give generously. I am also sure that He will provide the resources for our giving in marvelous, even miraculous, experiences of faith to grow us and bless us.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.