EDITOR'S NOTE: This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this month centered on the theme of "BE His heart, His hands, His voice" from Matthew 16:24-25. Each year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions supplements Cooperative Program giving to support Southern Baptists' 5,000 international missionaries' initiatives in sharing the Gospel. This year's offering goal is $175 million. To find resources about the offering, go to www.imb.org/offering.
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- It all started with an antique globe-shaped bank.
The tattered grapefruit-sized trinket helped spur students, faculty and staff of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
In early December, the staff of Southeastern's Drummond Center for the Great Commission Studies needed an ornament for the staff Christmas tree competition, and the globe bank was chosen. Kristine Wager, administrative assistant for the associate directors of international and North American missions and an SEBTS student, added a small sign to the bank saying "Lottie Moon Christmas Offering" with an arrow pointing toward the coin slot.
After the competition, Greg Mathias, the globe's owner and the department's associate director of international missions, asked Wager to retrieve his collectible. Wager decided to keep it on her desk and asked anyone who came by if they had spare change to give to Lottie Moon -- "and people just did." One professor even brought his "change jar" from home -- full to the brim with coins -- to give to the offering.
But Wager didn't stop there. As a former journeyman -- a short-term missionary with the International Mission Board -- from 2008-10 in East Asia, she knew what a "blessing" the Lottie Moon Offering is for the nearly 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries in supporting them and their ministries so they can concentrate on being Christ's heart, hands and voice to those who have not yet heard the Gospel message.
The day before a chapel service when gifts to the missions offering would be collected, Wager carried the globe to all of the seminary's offices, asking for spare change. Give they did -- change, dollars and checks -- and if they could not give then, many made notes to remind them to give at the chapel service the next day.
"By the time I got back to my office, the globe was so heavy it was a relief to put down!" Wager said with a laugh.
Her rallying paid off -- Southeastern gave $3,556 this year to the offering, a 36 percent increase from their 2011 total of $2,620.44.
"Where we are generous and where we give of ourselves and of our things, that really reveals where our hearts are," Wager said. "I think that's super exciting that our hearts are 36 percent more geared toward missions than they were last year."
But Wager doesn't take credit for this increase -- she knows that her department and the entire seminary are devoted to the Great Commission.
"It wasn't just me -- my personal passion -- but really the community of passion that is cultivated at Southeastern. … I think that's just an attitude filtering down from Dr. [Daniel] Akin [SEBTS president], how he's so committed to the Great Commission and to missions in general, it really does go into everything that we do. … down to our faculty members, to our staff and to our students as well."
The seminary has taken up an offering for missions every year since Akin became the seminary's president in 2004.
"It's hard not to be excited about missions at Southeastern," Wager said.
Laura Fielding is a writer for the International Mission Board. Southern Baptists' gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and through the Cooperative Program help Southern Baptist missionaries around the world share the Gospel. Gifts for the offering are received at Southern Baptist churches across the country or can be made online at www.imb.org/offering
where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering. Download related videos at www.imb.org/lmcovideo