I consider the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions one of the great privileges of being Southern Baptists. My son is a pastor in another denomination (married a girl from that church and left the faith – what can you do?) and I jokingly asked him what they were doing to promote the Lottie Moon offering this year. I cannot imagine Christmas without Lottie. Every year the International Mission Board produces a series of videos to use in promoting their mission work around the world.
These videos are especially important in places like Iowa. I believe in the Cooperative Program, but there is one significant downside in the new work areas. Since we are outside the SBC wheelhouse, SBC missions can easily become impersonal. Ya’ll southerners have a Southern Baptist cultural identity and inertia and you also have a lot easier contact with the people who run our missions work – retired missionaries, those on stateside assignment, etc. Our people come to Southern Hills because of the church and couldn’t care less about our Southern Baptist identity. But they love missions and when they hear about what we are doing they get excited about it. These videos help with that.
The videos are between 2:30 and 4:00 minutes long, with the majority close to three minutes. We’ve used them during the offering collection or just before I preach. They are personal stories from missionaries and explain the work they do on the field. Here is a rundown of the videos available this year. They are available for free – you’ve likely already received them at your church on a DVD. They can also be downloaded at the IMB website.
They are wonderful and useful videos, but I find one thing disappointing this year. In the past, the videos mentioned the Lottie Moon offering. Last year, the videos were available in two forms – for those who used the “Lottie Moon” name for their offering and those who did not. This year, they just left the name off completely. Only the name IMB appears at the end but there is no tag promoting Lottie Moon. I realize I can just say, “give to Lottie Moon,” but I wish there was a graphic that said that. There is a Lottie Moon graphic available, but our church isn’t one of those highly tech-savvy churches – trying to splice two videos (probably not the right term) is likely a bridge too far.
Here is a rundown of the videos available, with a brief review.
“Beauty from Ashes” (2:47) – In my humble but correct opinion, the best of this year’s bunch. It is the dramatic story of a landslide in Nepal (when a glacier broke off) that almost completely wiped out an entire people-group that one of our missionaries was working with. It emphasizes two things – the urgency of world missions and the power of partnerships between the IMB and local churches. Plus, the videos here are stunning. Wow.
“Ganbaru” (4:05) – A longer video, it is about ministry in Japan. Ganbaru means “tough it out” in Japanese and the missionaries featured in this video focus on pressing on in tough times to overcome obstacles. People told them this couldn’t be done and that couldn’t be done, but they pressed on in the power of God and it was done. They have stated a non-traditional church plant in a doctor’s office (the video explains why), and are seeing great results.
“28 Million People…One Team” (3:01) Focuses on our multicultural team serving the bustling Mexico City with its many international groups. The team dynamic is the focus as well as the challenges of working in a megacity with such a worldwide focus. How can 12 people reach 28 million? Several different ministries designed to enable ministries to the people of the city are highlighted.
“Capitol of the World” (4:08) The longest video focuses on international student ministry in London. There are 48 universities in London and our missionaries are engaging students there to reach people from countries we cannot send missionaries into. Many of these students have never heard the gospel, don’t know what a Bible is, and some have never even heard of Jesus. There is a moving story of one of the missionaries speaking to an odd-looking student who said, “You are the first person on this campus who has spoken to me in 3 years.” Building relationships and connections with people from countries missionaries cannot enter is a great opportunity to spread the gospel.
“This Is Living” (1:46) The last video, the shortest begins with a passionate plea from Dr. Platt that God is sending all of us to reach the nations. Then many of our missionaries speak to the need for all of us to be involved in the process of worldwide missions.
All of these videos are worth using. Obviously, real missionaries are the best promotion, but these are a great way to show what is going on. The videos, and some other resources, are available at the IMB website. At the website there are a few other sources available.
Bonus Video: There is a video out that is actually produced by NAMB about the life of Karen Watson, an IMB missionary who went into Iraq after the Gulf War to serve on a security detail and to work with women. She was killed during her ministry there. She left a letter with her pastor Phil Neighbors to open in the event of her death, and on this video they read the letter. It speaks to her commitment and willingness to suffer for Christ. That lasts about 5 minutes. Then, the second half of the 10-minute video is a song that was written based on her letter. This story is moving and powerful. Obviously, it is 10 minutes long! If you haven’t watched it, I will attempt to embed it below.
I know most of us can’t take 10 minutes out of our services to watch a video, but this one is close to worth it! Keep a Kleenex handy, preachers.