She was born into a wealthy family from rural Virginia in 1840. Seventy-two years later, she died on Christmas Eve in the Japanese harbor of Kobe. “Frail, weak, and nearly starved,” described one account. Single, penniless and with barely any belongings left in her trunk, her selflessness would forever change the course of Southern Baptist missions. Her name was Lottie Moon.
During her almost four decades as a missionary in China, she taught young girls, cared for orphans and made inroads for future ministry work among unreached people groups. When famines struck, Moon sold everything to feed the hungry. When uprisings and war rocked the country, Moon chose to stay. When people encouraged her take a break or move on, Lottie Moon instead wrote powerful letters urging Southern Baptists to organize and raise finances for sending new missionaries.
A constant theme throughout her letters can be surmised by the Apostle Paul: “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:20, NIV). The Apostle Paul was an apostle. The essence of his calling was to go from place to place, unreached people to unreached people until the gospel took root, churches started and leaders were equipped to repeat the process.
In Southern Baptist life, however, we are beginning to ask a dangerous question: why are we going over there when there are lost people here? Yes, there will always be lost people both here and over there but the heart of the matter is gospel accessibility.
The population of Mililani Town is roughly 48,668. A Google search shows almost three dozen evangelical churches in our zip code. Throw in Christian schools, K-Love on the radio and a few thousand Christians; and gospel accessibility becomes high. Are there enough churches to reach everyone? Of course not. But if a lost person from Mililani wants to know about Christ, there are many starting points.
On this planet, according to the IMB, there are 3,092 unreached people groups not engaged by anyone. These are people groups who have no known Christians among them, no churches or ministries, no Bibles or VBS material in their heart language, no missionaries committed to reaching them. Nothing. If a lost person from this people group wants to know about Christ, he or she would have nowhere to start.
Imagine living in a place where the closest Christian or church is hundreds of miles away. Imagine if that very same place hundreds of miles away was blessed with dozens of churches, so many Bibles that people own multiple copies, and incredible wealth to start Christian schools and such. Now imagine if that faraway place wrote to the unreached people saying, “We are sorry for not going to you but there are a lot of lost people where we live. And oh yeah, we do not want you here either.”
This certainly would not be in the apostolic spirit of Paul or Lottie Moon. This would not be in line with the evangelistic zeal of those who planted Mililani Baptist. Not everyone is called to be a missionary. But each and every one of us has a role to play. Ask the Father what He wants us to give to a lost and hurting world this Christmas season. Some of whom have never even heard about the birth of Jesus. Ever.