|RAs from Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie begin a “lap-a-thon” to raise money to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Youngsters from Inglewood and from Eylau Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana were among those who gave sacrificially for the missions offering, inspiring adult members of their churches in the process.|
TEXARKANA Jars and jugs of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters earned or found by the children at Eylau Hills Baptist in Texarkana made for a surprising outcome of the church’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The children out-gave the adults and came within cents of reaching the church’s entire goal all by themselves.
Bill Wilson, pastor of the 40-member congregation, said the children challenged themselves, which challenged the adults. Donna Fowler, the church’s children’s leader and a grandmother raising grandchildren, showed her students the Lottie Moon story on video. She was amazed at how they began giving their allowances, earning money by doing extra chores, and picking up every spare coin they’d spot on the ground to give through the Lottie Moon offering.
Wilson said, “We’d set a church goal of $250. It was amazing to us when the final tally came in. When our adults’ offering totaled $244.69, I thought ‘We’ll make it.’ Then they counted the children’s separately, and they had $249. We were real proud of them.”
Wilson’s wife Mary said, “I think the adults were kind of shocked at what the kids had done. The enthusiasm of the children kind of fired up the older people. They were just so used to ‘every Christmas, Lottie Moon.’ It kind of got boring to them.”
One member found the recipe for Lottie Moon cookies and made them for a church luncheon. Mary Wilson believes the video and the cookies helped make Lottie Moon more real for the children and helped them better understand who she was and what she did.
Matthew, a second-grader, was on his way to church with his container full of change the Sunday of the final offering, but never made it to church because they were involved in a collision. Bill Wilson recounted, “Everyone was fine, there were no injuries, just some bruises. But Matthew was so upset. He came in the next week and said he was so sorry he couldn’t get his money in on time.”
Mary Wilson added, “It was so cute when we announced the results and how proud we were of them. One little boy?a kindergartener named Logan?was busy when Pastor Bill started talking about the offering. Then he sat right up and listened. Bill said, ‘We are so proud of you.’ And Logan said out loud, ‘Thank you, Brother Bill!'”
Similarly, children at Inglewood Baptist Church in Grand Prairie caught the Lottie Moon vision and helped their church in reaching the highest amount ever collected for a missions offering. Girls in Action spent a Sunday in December distributing moon pies to remind members to give to Lottie Moon.
Royal Ambassadors (RAs) enthusiastically met an unusual challenge, and collected over $700 for the Christmas offering. Kameron Barnard, Nathan Brown, Christian Foster, Sunny Gutierrez, and Aiden Pelkie, under the encouragement and supervision of their leaders Dawn Foster and Gordon Ensley, collected pledges for laps walked or jogged around a middle school running track.
Foster, who considers herself to be young in her own spiritual growth, was brand new to the RA program in the fall of 2009. Having served over 20 years in the Boy Scout program, she was no stranger to teaching boys about service, and jumped into the program wholeheartedly.
“I just started this year and have tried to come up with some creative ways to inspire these kids,” she said. “This door opened and I just figure God is going to take care of it. Me being in charge of these kids spiritual teaching is kind of overwhelming.”
Foster had heard the Lottie Moon Offering mentioned at a previous church every Christmas, and she knew it had something to do with missions. But as she read the Crusader materials to prepare to teach the RAs about Lottie Moon, she became interested in knowing more and researched more of Lottie’s story on the Internet.
About an hour before her RA meeting, Foster felt compelled that her boys could contribute in a big way. Focusing on the theme of perseverance from their lessons, Foster remembered participating years ago in the 20-mile March of Dimes walk-a-thons, but knew that might be a bit much for her 7-year-olds. About that time she drove by a middle school running track and thought “lap-a-thon.”
That night in the RA meeting, Foster shared an example from her life of her sadness over a childhood friend she knows is lost, and who has distanced herself because of Foster’s faith. Then she asked the boys: “How would you feel if someone you loved didn’t know the real story of Jesus?” She asked two of the boys who are best friends, “How would you feel if you knew you were going to heaven and your best friend was going to hell?”
The boys shared with Foster about people they knew who made fun of them for being Christians. Foster said, “It hit home for them. That’s when I told them about Lottie Moon and all she’s done, and how maybe as a group we could help by earing money to send to these people.”
Foster shared her idea about the lap-a-thon, and the boys became excited. The Saturday before Christmas they met at the middle school track with their parents and their pledge sheets. With each lap, Foster would encourage them and let them know how many they had completed. They had 2 hours to do as many laps as they wanted to do, and could stop at any time.
Two of the second-grade boys and their dads turned it into a competition, and in the end both pairs completed 22 laps, five and a half miles, with Ensley completing 20 laps. Wanting to make their presentation the next day, the boys had less than one day to collect on their pledges.
In the worship service on Sunday they presented about $700 for Lottie Moon. The Inglewood congregation gave them a standing ovation.
In a church that averages about 400 in worship attendance, Inglewood members place missions as a high priority, Miller said, noting that staff members lead the way in giving and going. After serving 31 years as a missionary to Zambia, Miller returned to Texas where he serves as minister of missions and pastoral care at Inglewood.
The church’s world missions offering far exceeded their goal and expectations, raising $59,943.67, nearly $10,000 above the goal set by the church. The involvement of over a dozen retired and furloughing missionaries as speakers in Sunday School classes over a three-week period contributed to the successful effort. Seventy percent of receipts go to the international missions offering with the remainder designated for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
Miller said, “If a church has missions as a focus, it will not be afraid to challenge its members to give and to go.”