A note from Kelly King: For our audience that is Southern Baptist, the name Lottie Moon should be a familiar one. If you’re not from the SBC denomination, Lottie’s life was one of great purpose and mission. She spent much of her life sharing the gospel in China. Because of her example, she has inspired generations to take the gospel to all nations. The question today is, “How are you inspiring women to continue a legacy of praying, giving, going, and sending others?” Have you considered how a mission trip could change the trajectory of your local ministry to women? If not, consider Cynthia Hopkin’s article today and prayerfully ask your leadership team to encourage women to be missional—both locally and globally. For more information about Lottie Moon or international missions, visit www.imb.org.
From confronting long-ignored misogynistic views to considering what the Bible actually says about gender roles, we are experiencing a seismic shift in church life. But we are certainly not the first to recognize the need for such changes.
In an article titled “The Woman’s Question Again,” published in 1883, Southern Baptist missionary Lottie Moon wrote, “Can we wonder at the mortal weariness and disgust, the sense of wasted powers and the conviction that her life is a failure, that comes over a woman when, instead of the ever broadening activities that she had planned, she finds herself tied down to the petty work of teaching a few girls?”1
It’s not that teaching a few girls is insignificant. That’s not what Lottie believed or meant! But she was a single woman in China with a passion for evangelism at a time when teaching children was largely the extent of what female missionaries were allowed to do. Her heart was to evangelize the lost, and she longed to be set free to fulfill that calling.
It begs the question: Are our women’s ministries tying women down to something less than what they are created and called to do? Lottie Moon understood that a woman’s highest calling is the same as that of every man—to share the gospel message so that people who do not yet know Christ might turn to Him in faith and walk in new life. And so we must consider whether the practice of women’s ministry reflects that calling.
Certainly, we understand the importance of missions in the church. We collect offerings to support mission endeavors around the globe, we send our teenagers on summer mission trips, we pray for missionaries, and we even serve in local ministries that reach the lost. But if we’re not also setting the expectation and providing opportunities to ourselves go, we’re falling short. Consider the following reasons why a mission trip (or trips) should be part of your women’s ministry planning process in the coming year.
Women’s mission trips…
Educate younger generations. The fact is, traditional missions education has in many cases gone by the wayside. Going forward, how will we educate younger generations about the importance of missions? We’ll convey the priority of missions to the whole church when we demonstrate the priority of missions through every ministry of the church.
Empower girls. Lottie Moon is the original post-canonical female superhero. She was assertive, impassioned, and independent. She was a world traveler, author, linguist, and baker. (Chinese children called her, “The Cookie Lady.”) She was a visionary and a cultural maverick who left home to save the world. Lottie Moon was the real deal and an inspiration to countless girls. And girls today need to see those same qualities lived out in the lives of the women they know, or else Lottie Moon and others like her will seem like a strange exception, not worth the effort or attention to emulate.
Strengthen families. For many families, missions means a youth group summer mission trip. Then you graduate and think the next best thing is to send your own teenager on a youth group summer mission trip one day. What a teenager learns on a youth group mission trip is unquestionably valuable. But seeing mom and dad giving priority to missions through personal involvement is perhaps even greater. A family mission trip is great, but not often financially feasible or pragmatic. But when a mom leaves with dad’s blessing for a few days with a team of women to share the gospel in another context around the world, the whole family grows and is strengthened as a result.
Transform the group. The thing about mission trips is that they always impact those who go as much as the people they go to serve. They open our eyes to what God is at work doing around the world and remind us that we have a purpose and place in that work. They give us renewed courage and commitment to share the gospel. After participating in a women’s mission trip to lead a women’s conference in Vancouver, one woman expressed it this way: “International travel, even if it’s only as far as Canada, is still one of my most impactful teachers as it demonstrates the greatest needs of our world and the greatest God who has come near to us.”
Enable women to live out their highest calling. On that same women’s mission trip to Vancouver, we rode public transportation all over the city. Apparently, it’s unusual to see 15 women with Texas accents having the time of their lives on the SkyTrain. Several people during the week stopped us and asked, “Who are you?” We also stood out in our hotel where we were holding a conference for women in British Columbian churches that are part of the Canadian National Baptist Convention. Two female Filipino hotel employees also wanted to know who we were and what we were doing because they noticed “something different” about us. One of them prayed to receive Christ. The other confirmed a decision she had previously made to trust in Christ, necessary because she had not been discipled or found Christian community since. Because we were a group of women on a mission trip, we had opportunities for gospel conversations all over the city, as God worked among us even outside of the conference we went there to lead.
One of the reasons Lottie Moon began to advocate for more opportunities for women missionaries was the realization that only women could reach Chinese women. It’s still true today. There are women around the world who will only be reached by women. And God calls us to it. Churches throughout the Southern Baptist Convention are giving toward the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering as usual this December, as they should. But let’s not let it end with giving. Let’s give the women in our churches opportunities to go, so that they might not be tied down to anything less than the highest call they have received—to go and make disciples.
Cynthia Hopkins is a writer, speaker, and the founder of Platform 320, a nonprofit ministry for women. Cynthia has been writing articles, Bible studies, and devotions for LifeWay for 20 years, and serves as content editor for smallgroup.com. She is the author of “What Now?” a 30-day book of devotions for students, and “Side By Side,” team-building devotions for the Gospel-centered workplace. Through Platform 320, Cynthia leads multi-church women’s retreats, ministry wives retreats, and women’s mission endeavors. Her husband Clay is the associate pastor at their church, FBC College Station, TX. They have two young adult children, Brandon and Abby.