Lottie Moon offering still impacting lives
By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
CLARKSVILLE — There are trends that come and go in the Baptist culture, but the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions has remained a vital part of the Baptist fabric for more than 130 years.
The ministry has remained unchanged throughout its existence, holding steadfast to its exclusive purpose of supporting missionaries who serve abroad.
The continued significance of the LMCO, which started in 1888, can be seen in the faces of the Stormers — a five-member family from Clarksville who have been serving as missionaries in Brazil for the past two and a half years.
The Stormers, who are members of Hilldale Baptist Church, Clarksville, are stationed in São Paulo, a mega city of over 20 million people.
Aaron Stormer and his wife, Melissa, along with their children Aiden, 12, Gavin, 9, and Astrid, 6, rely on the LMCO for a variety of purposes.
“The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has a huge impact on our ministry,” said Aaron. “It is because of (Baptists’) giving that we are supported to be here.”
The Stormers focus their efforts on evangelism, church revitalization and church multiplication — and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supports them in each area.
“It is (Baptists’) giving to Lottie Moon that makes it possible for us to help equip the local church, engage the culture around us and evangelize the lost,” Aaron said.
For the past year, the Stormers have served as U.S. mobilizers, working on the São Paulo City Team.
The ministry is having an enormous impact, with more than 60 professions of faith being made in the last 12 months.
“We work to partner U.S. churches with Brazilian churches in São Paulo in order to strategically impact the city with the gospel,” said Melissa. “We do this by training and equipping U.S. churches prior to mission trips, receiving and orientating them on the field, connecting them with Brazilian churches, and helping to cast vision for long term partnerships that will result in Kingdom growth.”
When initially called to the mission field, the Stormers spent more than a year in Manaus, Brazil, in the Amazon, learning the language and culture. They then moved to São Paulo, where they began their work with the São Paulo City Team.
The Stormers noted that “four new U.S. churches have committed to 3-4 year partnerships, working alongside Brazilian churches here in São Paulo with the goal of church planting by the end of the 3-4 year commitment. There have also been trainings in evangelization and mobilization held in three local Baptist associations,” they said.
The success being seen in Brazil can be traced directly back to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which helped pave the way for the Stormers’ ministry — and so many others like it.
“This is all made possible through the generous giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the unceasing prayers of our Tennessee Baptist brothers and sisters,” said Melissa.
Despite a gradual decline in the promotion of the LMCO at some Baptist churches across the states, the LMCO has seen some encouraging developments over the past 36 months. The number of new church starts reported in 2018 were nearly triple the number reported in 2016, and the number of national believers who received advanced theological training increased by 10,000 during each of the past two years.
IMB president Paul Chitwood is excited about the numbers. “The gospel is being preached among the nations, and we are privileged to be part of it,” he said.
The Stormers, like many missionaries, have a tremendous harvest field in front of them, but the ground is hard — and yes, the workers are few, although not as few as before, thankfully.
“(The São Paulo City Team) spent years praying for the Lord to send co-laborers,” said Melissa, “and today we have a team of six units — and (a total of) 10 missionaries working in church planting, evangelism, mentorship, mobilization, and student ministry in different areas of the city.”
The Stormers said the prayers and support from Tennessee Baptists is a vital aspect of their ministry, and said they are proud of the efforts that are made statewide to fortify mission work across the world.
“Tennessee Baptists have a heart for the nations and ensuring that people everywhere have a chance to hear the gospel,” said Melissa. “They understand the importance and urgency of the Great Commission.”
— There are numerous ways in which to support the Stormers. In addition to giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, churches can serve in São Paulo. Tennessee churches interested in missions opportunities in São Paulo can contact the Stormers directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.