EDITOR'S NOTE: This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention is Dec. 2-9 with 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.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Nepalese pastors brave threats and bombs to see Christ's name glorified in the Himalayas. Believers in West Africa bury a Christian woman, uniting in a strong witness to the Songhai community that refused her a proper burial.
In Central Asia, an IMB doctor's greatest concern isn't for safety but that his ministry will make a difference for the Kingdom. In war-torn Somalia of the '90s, an IMB worker knew he'd have to be willing to die for Jesus -- an experience that led him to spend years learning how and why believers in persecution grow unimaginably strong in the faith.
This year's Week of Prayer for International Missions stories remind Southern Baptists that engaging people groups in the hard places comes with risk and sacrifice, not just for missionaries but also for all who obediently choose to be His heart, His hands, His voice. Most U.S. Christians aren't threatened because of our faith, but we need to be in prayer for those who are -- not that persecution will end, but that believers in persecution will stay courageous and bold.
This December is the 100-year anniversary of the death of Lottie Moon, the namesake of Southern Baptists' offering that supports global missionaries. The emphasis celebrates her life and looks to her as a portrait of obedience -- a single woman who went to China despite the risks and persisted through war and famine because the Chinese needed to know her Lord.
Lottie wrote home to the Foreign Mission Board (now IMB): "Please say to the missionaries they are coming to a life of hardship, responsibility and constant self-denial." Yet, she noted, "If the joy of the Lord be their strength, the blessedness of the work will more than compensate for its hardships."
Giving also is a call to obedience and sacrifice. Gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering enable IMB missionaries -- going just as boldly as Lottie -- to live and work at the forefront of lostness and to extend a witness through their full-time ministry.
As Lottie said more than 100 years ago, "How many there are ... who imagine that because Jesus paid it all, they need pay nothing, forgetting that the prime object of their salvation was that they should follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in bringing back a lost world to God."
Each individual and church is called to be His heart, hands and voice and to continually take the next step in obedience so that Christ is glorified, even to the ends of the earth.
The core question is, then, "What am I doing and what is my church doing to be obedient, to BE His heart, hands and voice, no matter the cost?"
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