The SUV we loaded into was well worn. The vehicle had driven many miles in this Asian country, traversing both main roadways and obscure paths to spread the Gospel abroad. As our short-term settled into the vehicle for our drive, the IMB missionary happily remarked, “Make sure you tell the churches back home that this is a Lottie SUV. Please share our thanks. Without Lottie we would not be able to do what we do.” Off we went in our Lottie vehicle to a remote location where the number of Jesus followers is next to none.
As I rode in this Lottie-provided SUV, I could not help but thank God for the thousands upon thousands of Southern Baptists who have given sacrificially to send missionaries all around the world. I was amazed, yet again, by the reality that we really can do more together than we can by ourselves. Every Southern Baptist church which gives through Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is truly sending thousands of missionaries all around the globe.
In the 1800s, a single missionary named Charlotte Diggs Moon, affectionately referred to as “Lottie,” served tirelessly for the Gospel in China. For 39 years she pleaded with the Chinese people to turn to Christ and for Christians back home to send more money and laborers to the field. Very few missionaries were taking the Gospel to the estimated 472 million Chinese people in her day.
For this reason, Southern Baptists began an offering, named in her honor at the request of her friend Annie Armstrong, in 1918. Lottie spent 35 years advocating for an offering to support missionaries, and after her death in 1912, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was launched. Every penny of this offering, which to date has exceeded $4.5 billion, goes to the field. None of the offering funds administration costs here in the states.
While most estimates list Lottie between 4’3″ and 4’9″ tall, the impact of her life and legacy is immeasurable. She was a giant of the faith and called Southern Baptists in her day to go boldly with the gospel to the unreached. Lottie was known to challenge Southern Baptist men, in particular, through her passionate letters back home: “A young man should ask himself not if it is the duty to go to the heathen, but if he may dare stay at home. The command is so plan: ‘Go.'”
As we begin the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering season, Lottie’s prayer and challenge remains. More money and missionaries are needed to reach an ever-growing world of lostness. Right now, thousands of IMB missionaries are sleeping in “Lottie houses” and driving “Lottie vehicles” in order that “a lotta” unreached will be reached for Jesus.
The population has more than doubled in China since Lottie’s days. Today, there are more than 7 billion worldwide. Conservative estimates indicate that there are over 2 billion Christians in the world, which means there are over 5 billion that are not. As Southern Baptists, we have over 3,500 international missionaries serving across the globe; adding North America we support nearly 10,000 missionaries.
Yet, I would submit that 3,500 international missionaries are not enough (nor nearly 10,000 worldwide). If we reach our Lottie Moon Christmas goal of $160 million this year, it will not be enough. Praise God for those who are serving overseas and all the dollars that have and will be given. But more is needed. As with Lottie more than 100 years ago, more dollars and missionaries are needed. For the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel, let’s give and go like never before. Let’s give and go “a lotta for Lottie” this coming year.
Doug Williams is missions strategist for the KBC Missions Mobilization Team.