The call to missions is not an easy call to answer. It requires self-sacrifice, true commitment, and undying trust in God’s provision. Men and women through the ages have realized what it means to take up the cross and follow Him. The early Christians knew it. They often gave their lives in sharing the Gospel. Many endured financial hardships, imprisonments, beatings, not to mention the rejection of some of the people they were sent to minister to. Lottie Moon is no different. She followed in the footsteps of her predecessors to witness to the lost, in her case, the people of China.
Who was Lottie Moon?
We know her as Lottie, but her given name is Charlotte. She was born on December 12, 1840. She was born into a devout Christian family, but she, herself did not begin her relationship with Christ until she turned 18 and attended a revival service. That night she felt the calling of God on her life. She also felt the pull of other countries and their need for Christ.
Lottie Moon finished High School and then attended college and became a teacher. She taught for several years but could not get the thought of missions to other countries out of her mind. Finally, in 1873, she received her opportunity. Her sister, Edmonia, was already a missionary in China. She had been the first single female Baptist missionary to China. Lottie would soon follow her to Tengchow, China.
Lottie Moon spent the next 39 years of her life, not only teaching in the girls’ school but also ministering to the women and girls in the interior regions of China. She knew the best way to reach them began with assimilation. Lottie wore the traditional dress, learned the language, and adopted the customs of the region. She especially had a heart for children. And with a batch of cookies, she opened the door to teaching them about Jesus.
Lottie Moon: Her Mission
The hunger for God in China grew. More and more people wanted to hear about Jesus, far more than the existing missionaries could handle. She wanted to be among them, but being single and female held her back.
- Letter writing for support – Lottie Moon would regularly send letters back to the states urging Baptists in the U.S. to go to China as missionaries or to send assistance. Her letters also included the grievance about being regulated to only teaching at the school. She wanted to have the freedom to “go out among the millions,” but there was only so much she could do within the school she was teaching at.
- Adoption of the culture – One of the biggest struggles for missionaries has been cultural acclimation. Many regions will look at foreigners in a derogatory manner and pay even less attention to what they are saying. Lottie Moon adopted the traditional dress of the area she was ministering to. She also learned the language and cultural customs and used them to her advantage. All of that and a batch of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies would draw the people in. She spoke of the Gospel of Christ. Lottie’s efforts were fruitful and produced many converts.
- Self-sacrificial living – Not only were the Chinese eager to hear the word, but they were also battling illness and famine. She would dip into her personal finances to help her missions work. Lottie would also regularly give out her own food. Literally starving herself to feed those she cared for.
The lack of food brought on malnutrition and dementia. It overtook her in 1912. She was placed on a ship to return to the U.S., but Lottie Moon never made it home. She passed away on the ship. It was Christmas Eve.
Lottie Moon: Her Legacy
Lottie Moon’s life was defined by self-sacrifice. From leaving everything behind for the call of God on her life to immersing herself into the culture of the people, she was sent to minister to, to giving of her own possessions to help others in need. She urged fellow Christians to join her in the cause. Her call goes out even today.
Lottie was also instrumental in the creation of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU.) Today the WMU helps believers understand the importance of praying for, engaging in, or funding international missions. WMU began with encouraging women from adult age to children to answer the call to the mission field. Internationally or domestically. The first two operations that were funded were Lottie Moon, for international missions, and Annie Armstrong, targeting North American missions work.
This foreign mission’s opportunity exists today in the form of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Through this giving opportunity, her efforts can continue in the work she set up, not only in China but across the world. Wherever an International Mission Board missionary serves, this offering goes to support their ministry.
“Why should we not… do something that will prove that we are really in earnest in claiming to be followers of him who, though he was rich, for our sake became poor?” –Lottie Moon
This article was written by Jeff S. Bray.