Heroes of the Faith: Lottie Moon (1840-1912)
“. . . I cannot be silent”
The conventional axiom, “Good things come in small packages,” and the more cryptic aphorism, “Dynamite comes in small packages,” would seem to run counter to each other. The former refers to the matter of quality; the latter to quantity. But can they be woven together? Yes, they can, and a classic candidate for this synergism is 19th century missionary to China, Lottie Moon. This Southern belle has been portrayed as “Melanie and Scarlett in one package.” But when it comes to spreading the Gospel, Miss Moon was both passionate and persistent in her witness. While she would become a figuratively tall saint in missionary status, she was physically a tiny servant in material stature--all of four feet, three inches!
History--Lottie Moon’s “Everyday” Life
Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon was a homegrown byproduct of Virginian antebellum aristocracy. Her family embraced a lavish lifestyle on the palatial plantation known as Viewmont, a slave-labor family operation specializing in tobacco. The children were homeschooled, of sorts, tutored by a professional pedagogue in classical education. While her parents were strict Southern Baptists, Lottie was a spiritually skeptical belittler, once claiming she “preferred babbling brooks to babbling sermons.” But at age 18, she was transparently transformed by the Gospel of Christ. By age 21, she had become a linguistic prodigy, mastering six languages, and earned a Master of Arts degree.
Heritage--Lottie Moon’s Earthly Labors
Lottie did not make her mark in missions for 15 years after conversion, then responded to a request to partner with younger sister, Edmonia, in China. Leaving behind a secure teaching position and a marriage proposal, Lottie was commissioned, and set sail for China, forging an extraordinary 39-year career among the Tengchow and P’ingtu people. Yet, most of the time she struggled with the lack of collegial co-working collaboration. Her acerbic and assertive convictions were well known among Foreign Mission Board members. She lamented, “It fills one with sorrow to see these people so earnest in their worship of false gods . . . with no one to tell them of a better way.” She was resolute in repeatedly reprimanding the (U.S. SBC) senders for lack of workers. Her passionate pleas would never be forgotten.
Horizons--Lottie Moon’s Enduring Legacy
Dramatically undermanned, Lottie kept her hand unwaveringly on the plow. Undoubtedly the most distinguished convert and coworker influenced by Lottie was Pastor Li, a ridiculing Confucian scholar who became a remarkable Christian salvationist, evangelizing and baptizing an estimated ten thousand converts! Lottie left her imprint, and became “one of them” for such a time as this. By identifying with her fellow converts who were being deprived and malnourished by famine, she began to starve herself, deteriorating down to fifty pounds. She died of starvation at age 72. Nearing death, she remarked, “If I had a thousand lives, I would given them all for the women of China,” echoing the Apostle Paul, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9.22). To this day, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering has raised nearly two billion dollars for international missions. Should not Lottie’s steadfast and sacrificial spirit be embedded in our souls and established through our stewardship?
Recommended Reading For Further Focus:
Akin, Daniel L. Ten Who Changed the World. B & H Books, 2012, esp. pp. 47-68
Caughey, Ellen. Some Gave All: Four Stories of Missionary Martyrs. Barbour Publishing, 2006.