Leaders of the national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) are working on a plan to send hand-written appeals to 20,000 Southern Baptist churches to encourage every church to give to the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO).
Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer for National WMU, initiated the project after hearing that nearly 50% of convention churches don’t support the offering. She committed to personally writing 175 letters asking pastors to lead their churches to give.
“I mentioned the opportunity to state WMU leaders, and many of them committed to write churches in their state.”
The leaders have set a goal of contacting nearly 20,000 churches. International Mission Board (IMB) senior leadership and some staff members committed to join WMU’s efforts.
“As Southern Baptists, we’ve been inspired by the letters written by Lottie Moon calling the faithful to generosity. WMU’s first leader, Annie Armstrong, was known for writing thousands upon thousands of letters,” Wisdom-Martin said.
Each year WMU partners with the IMB to set the LMCO goal and to produce resources promoting the offering. This year’s letter-writing effort reflects the historic vision of WMU.
“At our core is the passion to take the gospel of Christ to those who have never heard. The LMCO is critical to our shared commitment to make Him known among the nations,” she said.
“It breaks my heart when I hear nearly half of our churches do not contribute to the LMCO. It has been such a meaningful practice of my Christian walk for five decades. By giving and praying, I get to have a part of God’s work through nearly 3,600 missionaries scattered across the world sharing Jesus with those who have little or no access to the gospel.”
Joy Bolton, WMU Leader in South Carolina, made a similar observation: “Some of our SBC churches do not grasp what it means for us to support missions cooperatively through [the Cooperative Program] and the missions offerings. I hope by writing to some of the pastors, they will understand how important the LMCO is to me and lead their churches to give.”
Bolton described her first overseas experience when she was able to witness firsthand the impact of LMCO giving.
“The missionary took us to a church in the bush where the people had built the church themselves out of mud bricks. Almost as an aside as we drove up, he said, ‘Oh, and by the way, the tin roof on this building was put here by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.’ I wept through that service knowing that what we do on this side of the world makes a difference on the other side,” Bolton said.
IMB President Paul Chitwood, commenting on the effort, expressed his gratitude for the effort of WMU leaders and Wisdom-Martin’s personal commitment to write 175 notes.
“That’s a lot of letters!” Chitwood said. “To think that our WMU partners across the country are now attempting to write 20,000 letters has blown us away.”
“I am confident that these personal and genuine requests on behalf of the lost around the world who need a missionary to come share the gospel with them are going to result in the biggest Lottie offering in IMB history,” he added.
As the IMB celebrates its 175th anniversary, reaching this year’s LMCO goal of $175 million will honor the organization’s rich history as well as support the strategic goal of sending out 500 more missionaries by 2025.
“The number of people applying to serve as missionaries through IMB has grown by several hundred over the past 18 months. Meeting our $175 million goal will ensure we can send them,” Chitwood said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sarah Alexander* is an IMB worker among Central Asians and a contributing writer.)
*Name changed for security