LOTTIE MOON — THE REBEL I WANT TO BE

By Lori McDaniel
Church Initiative Leader, International Mission Board, Richmond, Va.

Lori McDaniel

Lori McDaniel

Lottie Moon. I want to be like her, but I didn’t realize how much until I dove into her life story.

You could draw a line in the sand, mention the name Lottie Moon, and people who revere her will move to one side of the line while people whispering, “Who’s that?” will migrate to the other. I had one foot in each camp.

My current church is in the “who’s that?” category. Most people at my church, planted 15 years ago, did not grow up thoroughbred Southern Baptists. While they participate in and give to global missions, they’re not familiar with Lottie. But I grew up in a church that revered her, and I raised money for missions in my rice-bowl-shaped piggy bank to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. [Read more…]

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OFFERING IS ALL ABOUT THE MISSIONARIES

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Lonnie Wilkey

Lonnie Wilkey

Tennessee Baptist Convention churches are observing the Week for Prayer for International Missions this week and are in the process of collecting the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

If past years are any indicator, Tennessee Baptists will be generous when it comes to supporting our international missionaries who serve all over the world. I hope this response continues this year as well.

In September I had the opportunity to participate in a vision trip for Baptist state paper editors hosted by the International Mission Board in London. [Read more…]

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LOTTIE MOON OFFERING REACHES $165.8 MILLION

By Julie McGowan
Baptist Press

Christian worker Gary Warrior (name changed) leads praise songs and teaches a Bible study in a national's home at night. Providing clean water to communities gives Warrior and his team a welcome reception in people’s homes, and they are often open to the message of the gospel. -IMB Photo

Christian worker Gary Warrior (name changed) leads praise songs and teaches a Bible study in a national’s home at night. Providing clean water to communities gives Warrior and his team a welcome reception in people’s homes, and they are often open to the message of the gospel. -IMB Photo

RICHMOND — Southern Baptists provided resounding support through the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Finalized in early June, the 2015 Lottie Moon offering totaled $165.8 million — the highest total in the 127-year history of the offering. The offering surpassed the previous all-time record of $154 million in 2013 by $11.8 million. The 2014 Lottie Moon offering totaled just over $153 million.

Through June 7, Tennessee Baptists have contributed $10,726,904 to the Lottie Moon offering. The amount is approximately 10 percent ahead of last year. The Tennessee Baptist Convention will continue receiving LMCO gifts through November of this year. [Read more…]

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LMCO ENGENDERS SACRIFICE, CREATIVITY

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Quilters of West Hills Baptist  Church, Lebanon, pause in front of the quilt they made to be auctioned for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. From left are, first row, Kaitlyn Rodriguez, April Everett, Olivia Kelly, and Kyra Guess; middle row, Linda Nixon, Carol Pharris, Donna Lowery, and Cindy Gibbs; and back row, Deanna Rogers and Jenifer Goode.

Quilters of West Hills Baptist Church, Lebanon, pause in front of the quilt they made to be auctioned for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. From left are, first row, Kaitlyn Rodriguez, April Everett, Olivia Kelly, and Kyra Guess; middle row, Linda Nixon, Carol Pharris, Donna Lowery, and Cindy Gibbs; and back row, Deanna Rogers and Jenifer Goode.

BRENTWOOD — Giving by Tennessee Baptists to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is up from last year about 5 percent — from $6 million to about $6.3 million as of Jan. 31.

Early reports are that giving has been both sacrificial and creative.

Some Tennessee Baptists intentionally sought to increase LMCO gifts this year due to the financial situation of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention that receives the offering.

In August 2015, the IMB announced the need to reduce personnel and offered a voluntary retirement incentive to missionary and stateside workers. [Read more…]

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CHURCH IMPRESSES FORMER MISSIONARY

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Eric Thoman, pastor, Etter Baptist Church, Byrdstown, sits in the sanctuary of the church.

Eric Thoman, pastor, Etter Baptist Church, Byrdstown, sits in the sanctuary of the church.

BYRDSTOWN — When Eric Thoman (pronounced Toh-mahn) came to Etter Baptist Church here about four years ago, he was glad to be called as pastor of a church which was so supportive of Southern Baptist efforts. He was a North American Mission Board missionary in Ohio for seven years who was downsized because of restructuring by the Southern Baptist Convention agency.

Since then, Thoman has continually been impressed with Etter Baptist and its generosity, especially toward missions.

“It’s nothing I did or anything. This church is strong in missions and I just encourage them.” [Read more…]

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FIVE REFLECTIONS IN 2015 ABOUT OUR CONVENTION

By Ronnie Floyd
President, Southern Baptist Convention

Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie Floyd

In my final article in 2015 to our Southern Baptist family, I want to share five reflections.

(1) We are a cross-generational convention. One of our unique strengths is that we are a cross-generational convention of churches. I was so encouraged to see more younger pastors and leaders at our annual meeting last June in Columbus, Ohio. I am convinced the more we focus on reaching our nation and world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we will continue to be a cross-generational convention. The more cross-generational our churches are, the stronger our churches will be internally and externally. [Read more…]

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5 NEW CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS FOR YOUR FAMILY

By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing Columnist, B&R

family, Christmas, dinner, tradition, culture, eating, dining, dinner, celebration, grandfatherShops overflow with holiday gifts. Carols ring out from every street corner. Bell ringers collect monetary contributions for needy families. For Christians, this season reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas — to focus on the birth of the Christ Child born in a manager over 2,000 years ago. If you’re like many families at Christmas, you continue the same traditions handed down by parents and grandparents. Could your clan honor their history while starting a few new customs? Perhaps these suggestions will work for you.

•    Collect small Christmas tree ornaments from other countries. As family members travel outside the U.S., ask them to purchase a locally made ornament to hang on the tree. Inexpensive and requiring minimum luggage space, they will be symbolic of your vacation or mission trip. During a holiday get-together, share something about the country you visited and the people you met.

•    Video creating a favorite family recipe. My mother was known for her chicken and dressing. She knew the exact amount of sage, black pepper, onions, and stock to make it delicious. The problem: she never wrote it down. Like many great cooks of this generation, she cooked by taste. Today, with Smartphones and other technology, we can make a short video and e-mail it to others. The auditory and visual presentation will provide the knowledge of keeping those favorite holiday recipes around.

•    Adopt a family project each year. Correspond by phone or e-mail with family members and make a checklist of available service projects in your area. Ask each person to vote on their choice. The project with the highest number of votes will be the winner. Suggestions could include “Adopting a Family” for Christmas, scheduling a “Make-a-Difference Day” in December for the entire family; or preparing and serving a holiday dinner to a homeless center. Children can request extra chores and donate part of their allowance for a month. Adults can save change and forgo restaurant meals. Celebrate the spirit of giving back to those less fortunate. Claim Matthew 25:40 as your family’s verse.

•    Attend a Christmas service of Scripture and Carols. Churches and Christian colleges present free community concerts during the Christmas season. Sit together as a family and support those who have spent hours in preparation. Afterward, meet for light dessert and coffee. Plan to make this an annual event.

•    Donate to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Does grandfather really need a necktie with blue toadstools? Or does Aunt Sally have space for another wall hanging? Instead of all the relatives exchanging gifts, donate to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This offering goes to support international mission work that includes presenting the gospel, education, supporting missionaries who serve and other expenses.

As you celebrate the birth of Jesus, think of new traditions your family can enjoy. Adapt some of the older customs with these fresh ones. Thank God for making families part of His plan.

— Tomlin lives in Jackson and writes for the Christian market and teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers.

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PRIORITIZING THE 2015 LMCO

By Eric Atkins
Pastor, New Friendship Baptist Church, Cleveland

Eric Atkins

Eric Atkins

Several months ago our church received a certificate and letter from the International Mission Board congratulating us on reaching one of the four Lottie Moon Challenge Levels. New Friendship has received these certificates before so I wasn’t surprised to receive another one. This year, however, it is starting to feel much different. In the weeks since, news about the IMB’s Voluntary Retirement Incentive was released. Missionaries that are close to our church have faced the challenging decision of staying on, or retiring from the field. The immediate questions of “Pastor, what can we do?” sent us to our knees in prayer and God began to move our church to do even more in the area of giving. [Read more…]

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HOW TO CHOOSE LIFE: ‘MAX THE DASH’

By Johnnie Godwin
Contributing Columnist, B&R

Johnnie Godwin

Johnnie Godwin

A friend of mine heard the only thing that matters between birth and death dates is the “dash.” So he challenged himself with a motto on his cell phone: namely, “Max the dash!” A baby named Lottie Moon was born on Dec. 12, 1840 and died Dec. 24, 1912 at age 72. But, oh, how she maxed the dash! You may not hear the SBC mission goal for 2015 in her name is $175 million. But that’s just money. Her dash was cause and effect! I’m writing about that.

Why? and How? Greats from Nietzsche to Frankl have said, “If a person has a ‘why,’ almost any ‘how’ will do.” Today, we look at chaotic effects over all the cosmos and ask, “Why?” Other than writing off all senselessness to sin, we don’t know why people do the evil they do. Cause and effect are elusive and puzzling. But for Lottie Moon, her ‘Why?’ was Christ; and her answer was yes — to give her life to follow her ‘Why?’ It was Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 9:23. [Read more…]

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GO ‘BOTH FEET IN’ FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL

Editor’s Note: The Week of Prayer for International Missions is currently underway. The goal of the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $175 million. To learn more, visit imb.org/offering.

By Wanda S. Lee
Executive Director, National WMU

Wanda Lee

Wanda Lee

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In his book Both Feet In, retired missionary Bud Fray references an African proverb that says: “Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.” It’s like testing the temperature of the pool water before you jump in; we stick our toe in first and if it’s too cold we have the option of pulling back. Once we jump in with both feet we are committed … and we better know how to swim!

After serving 28 years among the people of Zimbabwe and South Africa, Bud and his wife, Jane, know firsthand what the Africans mean by this proverb. The Africans’ life experiences taught them to tread cautiously before committing to something. They worshiped many different gods, holding many beliefs that were contrary to the gospel. So when confronted with the truths of the Bible, they hesitated to commit to the One True God of Scripture. Carefully and wisely, missionaries like Bud taught them to weigh all the consequences and then, when they were ready, when they were totally committed to Jesus’ teaching, then put both feet in, knowing there is no turning back. [Read more…]

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