By Samantha Adams, Staff Writer
Southern Baptist missionary Lottie Moon died a century ago this December, and on Dec. 5 Dr. David Dockery departed from his usual habit of only giving chapel addresses at convocations in order to devote a service to the once-obscure missionary to China.
The International Mission Board preserved Moon’s legacy by naming its largest yearly fundraiser after her in 1918.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering amasses millions of dollars, 100 percent of which goes to support missionaries overseas, said IMB spokesperson Wendy Norvelle.
Norvelle said the IMB does not use the offering for promotions or administrative costs. It provides salary, housing, children’s education, medical and retirement for IMB missionary families.
Legends about Moon, a single English woman missionary, clouded an accurate picture of her true personality and work, as the IMB concedes. A quote from Moon on imb.org, however, confirms her heart for missions, especially at Christmas.
“Is not the festive season when families and friends exchange gifts in memory of The Gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race, the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth?” Moon asked in Tungchow, China, on Sept. 15, 1887.
Laura Lee, sophomore social work major, will give to the Lottie Moon fund for the first time this year. During this semester, every time she wanted to buy something “extra” for herself, Lee said “no” and wrote the cost of that item on a list. The total of that list is the amount Lee said she will give to the offering.
A two-month trip to India this summer as a member of an IMB student mission team showed Lee the Lottie Moon fund’s impact on missions.
The IMB Journeyman missionaries Lee worked with used Lottie Moon offering to pay for transportation to small villages where they, Lee and her teammates used henna art to teach women stories from the Bible.
“Women who have never heard the name of Jesus before heard it because of Lottie Moon,” she said.
Lee said she did not realize “how big a deal (the offering) was” until she worked with the missionaries in India.
“It doesn’t go to missionaries so they can just have extra money [for themselves],” Lee said. “It goes to the ministry and it advances their ministry in ways it couldn’t have been advanced [otherwise].”
The 2008 Lottie Moon total offering of $141 million, which came after the onset of the recession, fell $30 million short of the target goal, according to a 2009 IMB news release. The 2011 offering marked the highest since 2008, coming in at $146.8 million. The IMB has set the target goal for 2012 at $175 million.
The number of missionaries serving globally depends on the support provided by Southern Baptist churches through the IMB’s Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon offering, Norvelle said.
Norvelle said several years ago lack of resources to support personnel caused the IMB to reduce the number of new missionaries from approximately 1,000 yearly to 500 – 600 yearly.
“Doors of opportunity for reaching the lost are open as never before and we pray that Southern Baptists will give sacrificially so all people will have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel,” Norvelle said.