Monday, December 7, 2009

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

It's that time of year again...yes, Christmas, but more eternally important for the nations, it's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering time! Why is that so important you may ask? I will tell you

There are over 16,000 people groups in the world today (ethno-linguistic groups of people). Over 6000 of them are considered unreached, meaning that there is no indigenous believing group of Christians that can evangelize their area without outside help, less than 2% Christian. That comes to about 2 billion people who do not have good access to the gospel. And many of those people groups are unengaged, meaning that they have no evangelical missionaries among them. Only 3 % of the world's missionary force of about 100,000 is among the unreached. Watch this, then again.

And as Southern Baptist our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) supports the largest missionary force in the world, because this offering goes strictly to missionary salary and outreach costs. And for the first time in decades our International Mission Board (IMB) has had to cut missionary appointments because of shortfalls in funds. We have more missionaries to go than funds to send them. And millions perish daily without access to the gospel. And so we have an opportunity to sacrifice and invest in eternity rather than stuff.

And it blesses me when my congregation comes to me and says it would be nice if we could give to the LMCO all year. Because they feel the burden to give, but they also feel the pinch of our current economic crisis. Well, you can! In fact, anyone reading this blog can at anytime. And I am encouraging you for the sake of the nations to do so. It breaks my heart to hear grumbling about the increasing of our church goal from $10K to $12K, especially when it should be $15K. I want you to hear it from the missionaries mouth's as well as from a couple of pastors.

Dear Praying friends and family, This year seems to have just flown by so quickly….well, at least the last six months! Thanksgiving has come and gone and now everyone is preparing for Christmas! David and I had several days of feasting and fellowship leading up to Thanksgiving Day with missionaries in Zambia. We traveled back to our home in Malawi on Thanksgiving Day. Looking over this past year, we have so many things of which we are thankful to have been a part of. Let me name a few:

-Trip to Turkey to discuss work among our “cousins”. (Feb)

-Completion of two more 4040’s (First term missionary on field orientation program) without major incident! (April-May and Oct.-Nov.)

-Two separate but wonderful AMTM’s (mission meeting) with our missionaries in the Zambezi Cluster (March and July)

-Prayer retreats with our missionaries in the Zambezi Cluster- Focus on Fervent and Persistent prayer

-A wonderful vacation/trip to Namibia… got to see and experience a whole new part of Africa for the first time!

-Much needed and successful disc replacement surgery for David

-An unexpected medical trip to the USA for Janet which also provided the opportunity to visit some with our kids and David’s parents!

-Personal home visits with some of our missionaries in the Zambezi Cluster

-Love and support/affirmation from so many of our friends and family

-Sense of being settled in our home in Malawi.

I am thankful that we who are God’s children are greatly loved and that our Father wants us to bring not only our praises but also our petitions before him. So, I would like to share a few things for you to please pray with us about in the days to come.

-IMB Connecting has drastically cut back on work budgets for the coming year; medical and retirement benefits for your missionaries are being cut; cost of living; number of personnel being appointed career and Journeymen allotted and the list can go on. We know that our Father is greater than IMB and is able to provide abundantly for all of our needs. He knows the needs of the Zambezi Cluster even more than we, so is able to provide. Please pray for Missionaries to be able to live and work in this mindset and not become disillusioned with the changes that are taking within our organization.

-We pray that you, our supporters would continue to pray for all of us and the work that we are involved in. We also pray that you continue to give as you have so generously done in the past to the Lottie Moon Christmas offerings and also for that which is given to the cooperative program to support your missionaries on the field and their ministries. We have been told that last year the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal fell short by a huge amount this year which also has contributed to the financial squeeze. Please pray about what you are willing to give towards the support of your missionaries. In the past, your missionaries here in the Zambezi Cluster (and most other clusters) have given thousands of dollars to the Lottie Moon Christmas offerings. We see this as a privilege to partner with our brothers and sisters in the USA who are doing the same thing!

We ask that you try to help in several ways:

1) Encourage your church to increase its monthly giving to the Cooperative Program. (The IMB receives a portion of its income from the Cooperative Program.)

2) Encourage your church to do something unheard of – double your goal for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering from last year! You might be amazed how much people will give when they know how great the need is.

3) Do all you can to inform your church members of this great need. As the time for Jesus’ return draws closer and closer, do we want to be the team that has dropped the ball! We have a God given goal! But we must each do our part to help reach that goal!

4) Give more than you have ever given before to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Even if it is only $7 more! Make your gift to Jesus the largest gift you give this year!

-David and I have had to cut our personal budget to over 50% in order to keep our missionaries from having to dig into their own work budgets. Please pray for us as we need to know how to best use the allotted funds that we still do have to visit those individuals who need it the most.

-Nathaniel will be graduating this December from Liberty University with a degree in Aeronautical Science with an emphasis on Missions. (He will walk in May, 2010). Please pray that he find a job. We are very proud of him and just ask that you continue to pray for him as he starts this new chapter in his life.

-Anna has made some great friends and continues to work towards her degree in Athletic Training. Please pray for Anna as she moves into an apartment this month and continues her studies at Liberty University. Please pray for both Nathaniel and Anna as they will be spending Christmas break in Lynchburg, VA away from immediate family- their first Christmas alone! (it may be harder for mom and dad than for them!)

May you all have a blessed Christmas season and continue to be a beacon of light where ever you are! We love you and so appreciate your prayers and support to our family for so many years!

With Love, Janet

Pray as you think about what you are to give, and lead the way to give sacrificially, so that the nations that have never heard can hear, and so that we can send the missionaries that we have waiting to go! "Go, send, or disobey! For this is not an invitation to an easy life." Take up your cross and follow Jesus! At least pray that New River reaches its goal of $12K, then makes it to $15K for the glory of Christ!

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