“Why would you start a school for Chinese girls?” a friend asked. “They don’t need to be educated to get married and have children.”
These were the words asked of Lottie Moon after she identified her strategy to carry the gospel into China. She yearned for people to meet and know Jesus, but also knew for this to happen would require meeting a monumental need first. She saw it as an open door of ministry that female-China was among the most oppressed of any peoples in the entire world.
She explained, “At the moment, everything is decided for these young girls. They can’t even choose not to have their feet bound, but if they are educated, they may let their own daughters run and skip with unbound feet. Girls who are educated will educate their daughters and things will change.”
With little support, Lottie opened this school she dreamed of for girls in China. Because no one was interested to have girls educated, she paid for all of the expenses herself. With 13 students after her first year, she provided food, medicine, and housing, meaning she often did without for their provision. She knew that it was worth it. Serving selflessly through every kind of trial, Lottie persisted in her effort to be her Lord’s vessel.
It may have been her letters that made the biggest impact on changing other’s minds about the deplorable conditions in the place where she served, and the great need for mission work everywhere.
Through Lottie’s letters, Annie Armstrong became moved to join her own women’s organization with others across the country and collect the funding necessary to send more missionaries to China. In one year, they collected enough to put three surrendered servants into the foreign country. Annie and a team of many women sent ambassadors for Christ away.
We now have many missionaries serving hundreds of people groups in every nation of the world.
We sent them away. They left. Now what? In this time of the year when within the walls of many churches the name of Lottie Moon is spoken many more times than Santa’s, it is good to remember that we have sent members of our body to serve in faraway lands away from friends and family, away from the life and lifestyle we often merely take for granted.
As Lottie, they serve selflessly on every front, enduring hardships and the many trials that come with following Jesus where he beckons. We should not see them as separated identities gone away; but as an extension of Christ’s body, much as we would extend our arm to retrieve something needful.
Unfortunately, they are too often treated as severed, forgotten.
It is not that we should only think of our brethren and fellow-servants in Christ during this time of the year, but thankfully, and much due to the labors of Lottie Moon, this month is an opportunity to stoke the flames of compassion for our missionaries. So here are a couple of suggestions to consider as we walk through December.
- Pray regularly for our missionaries. Put their names on your prayer lists and calendars. Put a picture of them somewhere so you cannot help but see them often.
- Give to support them. This is a great time of year to give, for as our Pastor encourages, we can consider it a special gift to Jesus on his birthday. Consider it though, only a starting point for giving. Our missionaries need financial support all year and every year. Their job will not be finished until there are no more people left who haven’t heard the name of Jesus.
- Tell others about them. Don’t keep the wonderful privilege of supporting our missionaries a private affair. Get creative. Talk about them at the dinner table or at lunch with a friend.
- Use the resources available at the International Mission Board website.
Sadly, it is reported that giving to missions is down. Along with that discouraging note, keep in mind that very few missionaries receive adequate support, and a decrease in giving means their struggles will increase.
The Great Commission, empowered by the Great Commandment, is our responsibility. Why do we have this responsibility to see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is taken across every cultural and national boundary? Yes, because it is his earth, and his authority to tell us to do so, but equally important, because we carry the very Word of Life; we send the Word of Life.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has been described this year as One Sacred Effort to reach and teach those who have never heard the name Jesus. Unlike many charitable donations, 100% of every penny given goes to directly support missionaries in the field. Last year, this means the gospel reached 1.7 million people through the 23,000 trained to start 6200 churches. Your giving rescued the perishing, fed orphans, and cared for the needy all while making the name of Jesus known.
Yet… 4 billion remain unreached. This means the work is not done. This means we must all examine our resources and ask how God will have us stand beside the laborers in His harvest. This means we must diligently pray and sacrificially give. This means God has given us the opportunity to be ministers of the life-giving gospel of His Son, the very breath of life in a world plagued by sin and death. Individually, what we each can do may seem insignificant, but together, with our resources combined, we can carry the good news of our Savior and Lord to the ends of the world.
“Find Your Place in God’s Story”