EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter by former SBC President Johnny Hunt, initially written to pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention, appeared in the Winter 2013/2014 issue of SBC LIFE, journal of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
WOODSTOCK, Ga. (BP) -- I wrote this letter in late October while ministering to a people we [First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.] adopted in the Middle East. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning, my heart heavy for the nations. I could not get the recent shortfalls of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering off my mind. I got up and wrote what you are now reading. Please read each statement prayerfully and carefully. My wife Janet and I will personalize the challenge before we give it to our church. It is my prayer that God would use our church along with the fellowships of the Southern Baptist Convention to touch the unreached people groups of our world, especially those that are unengaged by anyone for the Gospel.
I have often heard it said that "if you don't see it before you see it; you will never see it." I can see Southern Baptists coming together on mission with purpose to empower a called-out people to touch the nations. Do you see it, the fulfilling of the Great Commission? There is a movement, a mighty movement in place in our hearts, our churches, our associations, our states and our convention. God is allowing us to join Him in touching the nations. We are coming together and it is rallying around our mission -- to make Christ known everywhere.
My heart has been moved as I have heard from [IMB President] Tom Elliff and others concerning the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. We have had a goal of $175 million for several years, only to fall short each year. We have been noted as a people on mission for God. It is my prayer that we would step up to the plate this year and empower our International Mission Board to do what God has called them to do -- send the called and equipped to the nations. Would you consider your Lottie Moon Christmas gift as your gift to the Lord Jesus Christ as we celebrate His birth?
I have often felt that what is important to you as a leader, the pastor, is what is important to your people. Let's make Revelation 7:9 important. Remind our people to get a glimpse of that day around the throne when every tribe, every nation, every people will be there because of God's marvelous grace and the faithfulness of His dear people to make the Gospel known.
By the will of God, I am going to lead First Baptist Church of Woodstock to send its largest Lottie Moon Christmas Offering ever. I am going to do it predicated on 1 Chronicles 29:14, that everything I have was placed in my hand by God. Even the gifts I give Him were actually His to me. I am going to challenge you and our people with 1 Chronicles 29:3, that we set our affection not on the house of God as David challenged the people in building the temple, but that we set our affection on the nations coming to know God. In 1 Chronicles 29:5 the people consecrated themselves to the Lord and in verse 6 they offered willingly. Let's give while our hands are warm. Remember you will never miss anything you give away and we are never more like Jesus than when we are giving. It is my prayer that each of us will do now what we will be glad we did when we stand before the Lord. Let's give in light of eternity.
I would like to make some suggestions to my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters:
1. Would you give more to Jesus through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year than you spend on any other person or gift?
2. Would you prayerfully consider giving the amount equivalent to a week's tithe to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering?
3. Would you pray about giving a week's income to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering?
4. Would you pray about having a Lottie Moon Christmas Offering yard sale with all proceeds going to the nations?
5. Would you pause right now and ask your heavenly Father what He wishes to give through you?
What would happen if we began to believe God to really help us be faithful and sacrificial in going and giving to the nations? I believe that if we will be faithful in giving our missions gifts, it will embolden our missionaries on the field. I believe our own churches will be overwhelmed by our unity around God's mission. We could make Jesus known in a new way around the world.
It is my prayer that each of us would allow God to transform our hearts into hearts for the nations and realize that God indeed loves a cheerful giver and that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Southern Baptists, we can do this! In Jesus' name, let's all challenge our churches to give far over and above. Let's lead out as pastors not only by exhorting our people, but by emulating these principles of generous giving before them. Let the worshippers arise so that others may have the privilege to worship God with us. Let's exceed the $175 million goal. Let's do it in Jesus' name and for Jesus' sake.
Merry Christmas and God bless you,
Pastor, First Baptist Church Woodstock, Woodstock, Ga.
Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention (2009, 2010)
--30--EDITOR'S NOTE: Current SBC President Fred Luter, 12 former SBC presidents and the widow of former SBC President Adrian Rogers penned brief affirmations of Johnny Hunt's urgency in behalf of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Their comments, carried in SBC LIFE's Winter 2013/2014 issue, follow:
As the current SBC president, I would like to join Johnny Hunt, one of our former SBC presidents, in challenging pastors and churches to reach AND exceed our goal of $175 million for this year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Meeting and exceeding this offering goal will certainly help our missionaries spread the Gospel to the utmost part of the earth.
In the 37 countries where I have preached, I have seen the remarkable work provided by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. It is the most important offering we have that goes directly to winning people to Christ in foreign lands. It is essential that we do better than we've ever done with this great opportunity of bringing souls to Christ.
Having traveled and ministered in 36 countries, I can tell you that the Lottie Moon Christmas offering is absolutely crucial to our work overseas. Our gifts to this significant offering provide a large percentage of our IMB funds necessary to keep our "boots on the ground" around the world!
I want to encourage our pastors to lead their churches to give the largest Lottie Moon Offering in the history of their churches. God will be glorified and souls will be saved.
Morris H. Chapman
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supports our Southern Baptist missionaries who spread the Gospel from nation to nation, church to church, and person to person. It is our opportunity to witness around the world to the power of Christ's death on the cross. Our gift will travel to the ends of the earth with the greatest news mankind has ever heard.
I love Johnny Hunt's challenge. My personal challenge would be that every pastor match the money he spends for family gifts at Christmas with the same gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and challenge his people to do the same. Get ready for something special!
Tom Elliff (current IMB president)
Pastor Johnny Hunt understands that the lostness of this world demands a sacrificial response on behalf of every Southern Baptist. This year's Lottie Moon goal of $175 million is both necessary and reachable. As long as there are Southern Baptist churches, every person on the earth should have a legitimate reason to believe that ... someone will get to them with the truth about Jesus.
If we do not do anything else, we must take the Gospel to every human on the globe. If we cannot do that individually, then let's do it together through Lottie Moon. It is what Jesus ordered.
We believe fully in missions and the need to reach the world for Christ. We can each do that by wholeheartedly supporting the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
I'm seeing a renewed boldness in our Prestonwood Baptist Church family for reaching the uttermost parts of the world by supporting missionaries who are sharing the Gospel message and by ministering ourselves. There is a Holy Spirit fire burning in our souls, so I know that we will answer the call when it comes to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Can dead people speak? Lottie Moon does! Our generous gifts through this offering empower us and Lottie Moon to say, "Yes!" to reaching lost souls around the world! If you say, "Yes!" she can too!
Frank S. Page
I've been calling for increased missions giving to the International Mission Board through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for many years. I join pastor Johnny in this call for churches to give sacrificially to reach this $175 million goal. We have plateaued far too long in giving to this special missions offering.
Amen to Johnny's challenge! The hour is urgent. The harvest is ripe. Let's all give more generously than ever before as we seek to share the Gospel with every people group on earth.
Joyce Rogers, wife of the late Adrian Rogers
1980, 1987, 1988
Since our son David was a Southern Baptist missionary for 18 years in Spain, Adrian and I realized the great importance of sacrificial giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.