Not all debt is bad. I know that sounds strange, especially with the holiday season upon us when far too many people sink themselves into debt – or more debt – as they buy gifts, food and tacky sweaters (preferably the sleeveless variety to add to the gaudy effect!). You’re right, though, debt is usually a bad thing. I would, however, like to make the case that, in a few instances, debt can be good.
As you think about what debts might be good, you may be expecting me to write something about what we owe Jesus for the salvation he won for us. That would, of course, be an excellent place to begin, but in the limited space I have, I am going to jump to another debt: the debt Southern Baptists owe to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong.
If you were with us in August for our summer Sunday school session, you will remember that Dr. Keith Harper spoke to us about missions in the Southern Baptist Convention. In that lesson, our very own Dr. Harper told us all about Lottie Moon and her intrepid journey from the east coast of the United States to China where she ministered for almost 40 years.
Annie Armstrong was another force for missions in the SBC in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While she did not set out as a missionary like Lottie did, she accomplished a great deal on the home front that promoted, supported and encouraged missions in churches here in the USA. To that end, in 1934, The Home Missions Offering was renamed in her honor as a way of raising support for church planting and evangelistic efforts within North America.
For the first 13-ish years of our existence as a church, we took up an offering in December for International Missions known as the Lottie Moon Offering and then again around Easter for the Annie Armstrong Offering that supports North American Missions. After much consideration, however, we decided it would be more effective to consolidate our special missions offerings into one and collect them both in December. At the same time, we also decided to add support for our own church planting efforts. This has proved to be a very good decision as our giving to the IMB (International Mission Board), NAMB (North American Mission Board) and our own church planting efforts has, each year, been greater than what we collected through the separate offerings.
Once again this year, throughout the month of December, we will be receiving missions offerings. As in previous years, all undesignated missions gifts received will be divided: 60% to the IMB, 20% to NAMB and 20% to our own church planting efforts (currently in Windsor, CO under Andy’s leadership).
We may not call our missions offerings after Lottie and Annie anymore, but all that we take in will still go to paying our debt to these women for blazing a trail that leads from where Jesus is – with us, to where Jesus needs to go – those who haven’t heard.
Please join me in prayerfully considering what you will give above and beyond your normal contributions to join us in spreading the gospel, growing the church and expanding God’s kingdom.