Once the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions was Southern Baptist primary way to support foreign missions, but today Lottie's got competition ... and that's a good thing.
This year Southern Baptists celebrate 125 years of annual giving to support international missionaries. More than 3.5 billion has been given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, whose namesake inspired the first collection of gifts in 1888 so the world might know Christ. This year’s goal of $175 million will go a long way to promote sharing the gospel with the least reached peoples of our world. I hope you and give generously to the support of missions through your church, but I wouldn’t want you to think that’s the only way we, as Southern Baptists, support missions.
Once we thought that being a missionary meant boarding a ship or plane traveling to a distant land, learning a new language, living in a new culture. No more. Today missions may mean going across the street to speak with your neighbor who moved here from halfway around the world.
The Houston metropolitan area is the most ethnically and culturally diverse in America. More people who have been born outside the U.S. call Houston home than the total population of most cities in our country. Missions isn't just going to the Pakistan to share the gospel. It's going to the tens of thousands of Pakistanis who already live in our city. Supporting missions isn’t just something done through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering any more. You can support missions by supporting Union Baptist Association as well.
When we think of “being missionary" we usually think of a person, couple or family serving in a foreign country, sharing the gospel, starting churches. But that's not the only option today. All across our city churches are starting churches that reach ethnic, language and culture groups different from themselves.
As part of their their 25th anniversary celebration, First Philippine Baptist Church (FPBC) took a tour of the churches that helped them get started as a congregation. One of the churches they visited was Braeburn Valley Baptist Church.
Lester Leonares, one of the congregational leaders at First Philippine Baptist, told me recently, "We [First Philippine] went to visit the church [Braeburn Valley] on a Sunday when they were recognizing other churches they'd helped start. Not only had they helped us get started, but they'd started a Russian church, a Burmese Church and a Spanish church."
Braeburn Valley isn't a large church. The average Sunday morning attendance is less than one hundred, but they have a heart for missions and starting churches. When it comes to starting churches and reaching the lost, the size of the congregation isn’t as significant as the spirit of the congregation. Braeburn Valley is proof of that!
This holiday season I am grateful for all that is done by folks called Southern Baptists to reach the world with the gospel of Christ. Thank you for your support of UBA throughout the year, especially during Loving Houston.
For more about the Lottie Moon Offering, click here.