FIRST-PERSON: It is now our turn
EDITOR'S NOTE: This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Dec. 2-9 with the theme "Every Church. Every Nation." The theme undergirds the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The offering, in tandem with Cooperative Program gifts from Southern Baptist churches, supports international workers in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. Gifts to the Lottie Moon offering are received through local Southern Baptist churches or online at IMB.org/lmco, where there are resources to promote the offering. This year's goal is $160 million.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (BP) -- "Lottie" Moon was born in Albemarle County, Va., on Dec. 12, 1840. In 1873 she was appointed by the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) as a missionary to China. She spent 39 years there as a missionary until her death at the age of 72 on Dec. 24, 1912, onboard a ship in Kobe Harbor, Japan.
She was on her way home to the States due to her poor health, but God took her home to heaven to rest, reflecting the words of Jesus: "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master" (Matthew 25:21).
Because of her faithful service to her Lord, she left a legacy of sacrificial teaching and evangelizing during a critical period for the Gospel in China. Being an exemplary missionary, her name was immortalized by Southern Baptists through the establishment of the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which supports the International Mission Board's global mission efforts.
When I served as an IMB trustee from 1996-2006, I learned so much about her life and why the Lottie Moon Offering is so significant for the SBC. In spring 2009, a friend who had moved to China in 1989 shared with me about his work there. We visited a number of Southern Baptist churches to give testimony to what God was doing in China, and during one of the stops in Texas we met Mike Smith of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention who also had served as an IMB trustee and, like me, had studied at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
This was how the project to bring Lottie Moon's household items to Southwestern Seminary was born. In December 2009, her belongings from China came to the Fort Worth, Texas, campus in a large cargo container as a gift from my home church, Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass.
Today a digital presentation of the replica of Lottie Moon's house greets visitors at Mathena Hall's entryway. It serves as a challenging reminder of the SBC's emphasis on global missions and education and provides inspiration to future generations to fulfill the Great Commission. I thank God for the many people who invested their time and money to make it possible for us to see the replica of Lottie Moon's house in China at Southwestern.
God laid a burden on Dr. Smith's heart. As a fellow seminary classmate and IMB trustee coworker, he entrusted me with his idea. Then through connections and the help of many people, the plan came to fruition.
God brings people together this way to accomplish a mission.
In Acts 9:15-16, God gave a message to Ananias to tell Paul, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." When we read about the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul in the Book of Acts, we see God calling His disciples to team up for the sake of the Gospel.
God is still at work in building up His church as He promised (Matthew 16:18). We are called to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth to make disciples of all nations in a church planting movement (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:20).
Over a century ago in China, missionary Lottie Moon beautifully finished her race. It is now our turn and our duty to pass the baton of world missions to the next generation. May we leave clearly marked footsteps for them to imitate and follow.