Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
As Christmas is fast approaching it is time to remember the sacrificial mission work of one of Southern Baptist’s early female missionaries. She was a pioneer in many ways but most important was her love for our Savior and the people she was called to minister. Lottie Moon was passionate about people knowing Christ. She didn’t hesitate to speak her mind. If you have been around Baptist churches, you have heard the name, but maybe you don’t know the story behind the name. This is a summary of Lottie Moon’s beginnings in Albemarle, Virginia, and her missionary work.
She was born Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon in 1840 to a family of affluent tobacco farmers in Albemarle County, Virginia. In December 1858 she dedicated her life to Christ and was baptized at First Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Lottie attended Albemarle Female Institute, the female counterpart to the University of Virginia. In 1861, she was one of the first women in the South to receive a master’s degree. She stayed close to home during the Civil War but eventually taught school in Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia.
Edmonia Moon, Lottie’s sister, was appointed to Tengchow, China, in 1872. The following year, Lottie was appointed and joined her sister there. Lottie served 39 years as a missionary, mostly in China’s Shantung province. She taught in a girls’ school and often made trips into China’s interior to share the good news with women and girls.
When she set sail for China, Lottie was 32 years old. She had turned down a marriage proposal and left her job, home and family to follow God’s lead. Her path wasn’t typical for an educated woman from a wealthy Southern family. God had gripped her with the Chinese peoples’ need for a Savior.
For 39 years Lottie labored, chiefly in Tengchow and P’ingtu. People feared and rejected her, but she refused to leave. The aroma of fresh-baked cookies drew people to her house. She adopted traditional Chinese dress, and she learned China’s language and customs. Lottie didn’t just serve the people of China; she identified with them. Many eventually accepted her. And some accepted her Savior.
Lottie wrote letters home detailing China’s hunger for truth and the struggle of so few missionaries taking the gospel to the 472 million Chinese in her day. She also shared the urgent need for more workers and for Southern Baptists to support them through prayer and giving.
She once wrote home to the Foreign Mission Board, “Please say to the [new] missionaries they are coming to a life of hardship, responsibility, and constant self-denial.” Disease, turmoil, and lack of co-workers threatened to undo Lottie’s work. But she gave herself completely to God, helping lay the foundation of what would become the modern Chinese church, one of the fastest-growing Christian movements in the world.
Lottie frequently sent letters back home detailing Chinese culture, missionary life, and the physical and spiritual needs of the Chinese people. Additionally, she challenged Southern Baptists to go to China or give so that others could go. By 1888, Southern Baptist women had organized and helped collect $3,315 to send workers needed in China. Lottie Moon died at 72 — ill and in declining health after decades of ministering to her beloved Chinese.
In 1918, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) named the annual Christmas offering for international missions after the woman who had urged them to start it.
Today’s China is a world of rapid change. It’s home to 1.4 billion individuals – one-fifth of the world’s population. Village dwellers flock to trendy megacities with exploding populations. It’s very different from the vast farmland Lottie Moon entered in the 1800s. But one thing hasn’t changed: China’s need for a Savior.
Her legacy lives on. And today, when gifts aren’t growing as quickly as the number of workers God is calling to the field, her call for sacrificial giving rings with more urgency than ever.