Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon was a Southern Baptist missionary to China who spent nearly forty years living and working in China.
Lottie Moon was born Charlotte (Lottie) Diggs Moon on December 12, 1840, in Albemarie County, Virginia. She entered the world as a part of Southern aristocracy prior to the Civil War, a war that would devastate her family’s fortunes. Her family’s wealth was 1/40 of its pre-war value after the war ended. She would die on December 24, 1912, aboard a ship in the Japanese harbor of Kobe. She was frail, weak, and nearly starved having just passed her seventy-second birthday. She weighed no more than fifty pounds.1
Lottie served our Lord for thirty-nine years on the mission field, mostly in China. “Best estimates” say that this mighty, little woman towered all of four feet, three inches. It was never said that she was beautiful, but this little lady had a certain attractiveness about her and a powerful personality that would be essential in her service on the mission field. She taught in schools for girls and made many evangelist trips into China’s interior to share the gospel with women and girls. She would even preach, against her wishes, to men, because then as now there were not enough men on the mission field.
I have no doubt, having spent many months in her biography and letters, that Miss Lottie would be both amazed and embarrassed at all the fuss that is made about her each year by Southern Baptists. She knew that in 1888 Southern Baptists, at her request, raised $3,315.00, enough to send three new women missionaries to China. She, however, could never have imagined, that:
- In 2007, $150,409,653.86 was raised in her name.
- In 2008, a goal of $170 million is set in her name.
- Since the offering’s inception, $2.8 billion has been raised for missions in her name.
- 52% of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) International Mission Board’s 2008 budget comes from the offering that honors her name.
Here is the power of a consecrated life, a life sold out to the lordship of Christ, a life our Lord sovereignly chose to multiply many times over. This is the life we see outlined by the apostle Paul in Rom 12:1. Having spent eleven chapters explaining sin and salvation, sanctification and sovereignty, he now moves on that basis to address service and what I call the consecrated life. Such a life is seen in Lottie Moon. Hers was not a perfect life no doubt. It was, however, a powerful life; a life lived for King Jesus, and a life worthy of our careful study and attention.
Four marvelous truths emerge from this text that find a beautiful echo in the life of Lottie Moon, an echo I pray will find its sound in my life and yours.
I. Live a Grateful Life
Paul encourages us “by the mercies of God,” a shorthand for the many blessings he has unpacked for us in Romans 1-11. Gratitude should overwhelm every man or woman who has grasped the magnitude of sin and the majesty of salvation. Accepted in Christ by my heavenly Father, I live a life of gratitude for all that He has done for me. No request is deemed out of bounds or too great.
Lottie came to this conviction but not until she was in college. As a child her mother read to Lottie and her siblings the Bible and other religious books. One was the story of Ann Judson, the wife of Adoniram Judson and the first Baptist woman missionary from America. In December 1858 (Decembers were special to her!), at the age of eighteen, Lottie placed her faith and trust in Jesus. The preacher was the famous Baptist leader John Broadus. He would also be the man who would baptize her and encourage her in her service to our Lord. In fact, it was Broadus’s challenge to missions that planted the seed for foreign service in her heart; though at the time, a single woman going to the nations was unthinkable.
This grateful life was born of a confidence in the providence and sovereignty of God. She wrote, “I do not believe that any trouble comes upon us unless it is needed, and it seems to me that we ought to be just as thankful for sorrow as for joys.” She would oft recall Broadus’s prayer, “Send us affliction and trouble, blight our dearest hopes if need be, that we may learn more fully to depend on Thee.” And later in a letter to J. C. Williams, on February 25, 1876, she wrote, “But the work is God’s and we do not fear the final results. ‘The heathen shall be given to His son for His inheritance,’ and we must be content to await His Own time.” Thus gratitude, growing of a trust in divine providence, colored Lottie’s perspective on life. She needed this.
When she was twelve, her wealthy father died of a heart attack or stroke while on a business trip. His widow, Lottie’s mother, Anna-Maria Moon, assumed family leadership.
Famine raged in north China as Lottie returned to the field in December 1877. She and other missionaries gave to relief programs and shared personally as they could to relieve the suffering.
Early in 1878 Lottie opened a girls’ boarding school for higher-class Chinese. Her purpose was evangelistic: She knew the school would help her enter pupils’ homes, since the exclusive citizens of Tengchow wanted little to do with “foreign devils” otherwise. God also accomplished other noble purposes. She managed to save about a third of her pupils from the practice of binding girls’ feet. The custom usually began about the time a girl would be entering school. The four small toes were bent under and bandaged and drawn toward the heel until bones broke. The suffering young women wound up with a three-inch foot and a pointed big toe. Often infection, illness, and even death resulted. God was at work in surprising ways.
Lottie’s life was frequently one of extended loneliness. Often she would be the only Southern Baptist missionary in northern China. Her lone companion was her Lord. But she stayed with the work God had for her. She relocated to P’ingtu in December 1885. Aided by a Chinese couple from Tengchow, she rented a four-room, dirt-floor house for $24 a year, planning to stay until summer. She ate and lived as the Chinese did. No one she knew spoke English.
She quickly adapted to the local dialect. She began visiting surrounding villages and within a few months had made 122 trips to thirty-three different places. She gratefully trusted our Lord in trying and difficult circumstances.
Her gratitude to God was also the basis of her challenging folks back home to give to the work of missions. She opposed raising funds by entertainments or gimmicks. She wrote,
I wonder how many of us really believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive. A woman who accepts that statement of our Lord Jesus Christ as a fact and not as “impractical idealism,” will make giving a principle of her life. She will lay aside sacredly not less than one-tenth of her income or her earnings as the Lord’s money , which she would no more dare touch for personal use than she would steal. How many there are among our women, alas, who imagine that because “Jesus paid it all,” they need pay nothing, forgetting that the prime object of their salvation was that they should follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ!
Persecution broke out against Christians in Sha-ling in 1890. Relatives of one of the first inquirers, Dan Ho-bang, tied him to a pole and beat him, but he refused to worship at ancestral tablets. A young convert, Li Show-ting, was beaten by his brothers, who tore out his hair; still, he remained steadfast in his faith. He was to become the great evangelist of north China, baptizing more than 10,000 believers.
Lottie rushed to Sha-ling and told the persecution leaders, “If you attempt to destroy his church, you will have to kill me first. Jesus gave Himself for us Christians. Now I am ready to die for Him.” One of the mob prepared to kill her but was restrained. Lottie calmed the terrified believers and remained with them until the persecution waned. When the believers did not retaliate with the usual legal action, the Chinese grew in their respect of Christians and asked to hear of the new faith. The church became the strongest in north China, its members evangelizing in nearby villages.
One final example of her confidence in the God of providence is inspiring. China’s revolution broke out late in 1911. Fighting was intense around Baptist mission stations in north China. The US. consul asked missionaries in Hwanghsien to move to a safer port city, and they agreed-all but Lottie. When she learned Chinese hospital personnel had been left alone in Hwanghsien, she made her way safely through warring troops and took charge of the hospital, encouraging the terrified nurses and other personnel by her courage.
They resumed work caring for the ill and wounded. When Dr. Ayers and other male missionaries risked their lives to return, they were amazed to find Lottie directing the hospital quite efficiently, as she had done for ten days. With the hospital in rightful hands, Lottie packed to return home, but the men warned that heavy fighting made this impossible. When she insisted, they sent word to the opposing generals that Miss Moon would be passing through at a set hour. A young missionary escorted her, and as they made their way through the battle lines, firing stopped on both sides.
II. Live a Total Life
In Rom 12:1 Paul calls us to “present [our] bodies.” This is a personal and individual decision we all must make. It is volitional. It is to be total. “All of you all of the time” captures the thrust of Paul’s challenge. Once she came to Christ, Lottie Moon made such an agenda her life’s calling and commitment.
(1) In college she mastered Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Italian, French and Spanish. In 1861 she graduated from Albemarie Female Institute, counterpart to the University of Virginia, one of the first women in the South to receive a master’s degree. Broadus would call her, “the most educated (or cultured) woman in the South.”
(2) During the Civil War she, her sisters Colie and Mollie, nursed soldiers at Charlottesville, as well as her brother Orie back home.
(3) Prior to leaving for China, she taught Sunday School to both black and white children.
(4) Lottie felt her call to China “as clear as a bell” in February 1873, after hearing a sermon on missions at First Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia. Lottie left the service to go to her room, where she prayed all afternoon. On July 7, 1873, the Foreign Mission Board of the SBC appointed Charlotte Diggs Moon. She was asked to join her sister who actually had preceded her to the mission field in Tengchow. About to sail from San Francisco, Lottie got word that Baptist women in Cartersville would support her. There was no SBC Cooperative Program at this time. It would not come into existence until 1925!
(5) In village after village she would travel to speak from early morning to late evening, from the kang, on the street, in the yard of dirty homes, traveling in shentzes or riding donkeys, in the heat and dust of summer or wintry rain and snow. She was constantly in contact with the people, continually at risk of exposure to smallpox and other diseases. Yet she suppressed her craving for cultured life and conversation and her Southern tastes-all for the cause of Christ. “As I wander from village to village,” she said, “I feel it is no idle fancy that the Master walks beside me, and I hear His voice saying gently, ‘I am with you always, even unto the end.’”
She found strength in prayer and Bible reading and in devotional classics. She often wrote quotations from spiritual writings in the margin of her Bible or devotional books. One favorite was from Francis de Sales: “Go on joyously as much as you can, and if you do not always go on joyously, at best go on courageously and confidently.”
(6) It was Lottie who suggested to H. A. Tupper, head of the Foreign Mission Board, that the board follow the pattern of some other mission groups and provide for a year of furlough after ten years on the field. The board eventually adopted such a policy, but not until several missionaries in China died prematurely and others returned home in broken health.
(7) Lottie repeatedly struggled with the tragic fact that more did not answer the call to missions, especially men. Consider the following comments from her writings:
Nov 1, 1873, letter to H. A. Tupper
What we need in China is more workers. The harvest is very great, the laborers, oh! so few. Why does the Southern Baptist church lag behind in this great work? …I think your idea is correct, that a young man should ask himself not if it is his duty to go to the heathen, but if he may dare stay at home. The command is so plain: “Go.”
Apr 27, 1874, letter to H. A. Tupper
Oh! that we had active and zealous men who would go far and wide scattering books and tracts and preaching the word of the vast multitudes of this land.
Nov 4,1875, letter to H. A. Tupper
I write today moved by feelings which come over me constantly when I go out on country trips. “The harvest is plenteous, the laborers are few….” What we find missionaries can do in the way of preaching the gospel even in the immediate neighborhood of this city, is but as the thousandth part of a drop in the bucket compared with what should be done. I do not pretend to aver that there is any spiritual interest among the people. They literally “sit in darkness & in the shadow of death.” The burden of our words to them is the folly and sin of idol worship. We are but doing pioneer work, but breaking up the soil in which we believe others shall sow a bountiful crop. But, as in the natural soil, four or five laborers cannot possibly cultivate a radius of twenty miles, so cannot we, a mission of five people, do more than make a beginning of what should be done…. But is there no way to arouse the churches on this subject? We missionaries find it in our hearts to say to them in all humility, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ; as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you, in Christ’s stead,” to remember the heathen. We implore you to send us help. Let not these heathen sink down into eternal death without one opportunity to hear that blessed Gospel which is to you the source of all joy & comfort. The work that constantly presses upon us is greater than time or strength permit us to do.
Apr 14, 1876, Letter to H. A. Tupper
There was a large crowd pretty soon in attendance, so many that the hall would not hold them & they adjourned to the yard. I hope you won’t think me desperately unfeminine, but I spoke to them all, men, women, and children, pleading with them to turn from their idolatry to the True & Living God. I should not have dared to remain silent with so many souls before me sunk in heathen darkness.
Oct 10, 1878, Letter to H. A. Tupper
Odd that with five hundred Baptist preachers in the state of Virginia we must rely on a Presbyterian minister to fill a Baptist pulpit. I wonder how these things look in Heaven: they certainly look very queer in China. But then we Baptists are a great people as we never tire of saying at our associations and Conventions, & possibly our way of doing things is the best!
Nov 11,1878, Letter to H. A. Tupper
But how inadequate our force! Here is a province of thirty million souls & Southern Baptists can only send one man & three women to tell them the story of redeeming love. Oh! That my words could be as a trumpet call stirring the hearts of my brethren & sisters to pray, to labor, to give themselves to this people. “But,” some will say, “we must have results, else interest flags.” I have seen the husbandman go forth in the autumn to plow the fields; later, I have seen him scatter the seed broadcast; anon, the tiny green shoots came up scarcely visible at first; then the snows of winter fell concealing them for weeks; spring brought its fructifying rains, its genial sunshine, & lo! in June the golden harvest. We are now, a very, very few feeble workers, scattering the grain broadcast according as time &. strength permit. God will give the harvest; doubt it not. But the laborers are so few. Where we have four, we should have not less than one hundred. Are these wild words? They would not seem so were the church of God awake to her high privileges & her weighty responsibilities.
1889 Letters to the Religious Herald
I am trying honestly to do the work that could fill the hands of three or four women, and in addition must do much work that ought to be done by young men.
Our dilemma-to do men’s work or to sit silent at religious services conducted by men just emerging from heathenism.
Jan 8, 1889, Letter to H. A. Tupper
There is so much work to be done, too, that ought to be done by men. A young woman could not do the work & retain the respect of Chinese men…. While I do not a little for the men & the boys, I do not feel bound to stay on their account. Still, I must add that the work is suffering & will continue to suffer in that department for want of a man living on the spot.
Published in the Sep 1877 Foreign Mission Journal.
In the vast continent of Africa, we have one white missionary & one colored. In Japan we have-not one. In China we have at present eight missionaries. Putting the population of China at four hundred million, this gives one missionary for fifty million people. Yet, we call ourselves Missionary Baptists. Our Lord says, “Go ye into all the world & preach the gospel to every creature.” Are we obeying this command?
Published in the Jan 1888 Foreign Mission Journal.
The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent. It is grievous to think of these human souls going down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus. People talk vaguely about the heathen, picturing them as scarcely human, or at best, as ignorant barbarians. If they could live among them as I do, they would find in the men much to respect and admire; in the women and girls they would see many sweet and loving traits of character. They would feel, pressing upon their heart and conscience, the duty of giving the gospel to them. It does seem strange that when men and women can be found willing to risk life-or, at least, health and strength-in order that these people may hear the gospel, that Christians withhold the means to send them. Once more I urge upon the consciences of my Christian brethren and sisters the claims of these people among whom dwell. Here I am working alone in a city of many thousand inhabitants, with numberless villages clustered around or stretching away in the illuminate distance: how many can I reach?
It fills one with sorrow to see these people so earnest in their worship of false gods, seeking to work out their salvation by supposed works of merit, with no one to tell them of a better way. Then, to remember the wealth hoarded in Christian coffers! The money lavished on fine dresses and costly living! Is it not time for Christian men and women to return to the simplicity of earlier times? Should we not press it home upon our consciences that the sole object of our conversion was not the salvation of our own souls, but that we might become co-workers with our Lord and Master in the conversion of the world?
Published in the May 1889 Foreign Mission, Journal
One cannot help asking sadly, why is love of gold more potent than love of souls? The number of men mining and prospecting for gold in Shantung is more than double the number of men representing Southern Baptists! What a lesson for Southern Baptists to ponder!
III. Live a Sacrificial Life
Paul says the presenting of our bodies is to be as “a living sacrifice.” The phrase sounds odd, oxymoronic. And yet is its meaning not plain? The
consecrated life is both alive and dead and all at the same time. Sold out to Christ there are some times when I am active, vibrant, alive. Sold out to Christ, there are some things that once thrilled me, delighted me, consumed me, and now I am dead to them. I know them but am dead to them. They are not my life, my passion, any longer. It is now all about Christ and His calling upon my life. Such a life the Bible says is holy and acceptable to God.
The little aristocratic lady from Virginia lived such a life on many levels. Listen to her spirited correspondence to H. A. Tupper, dated November 11, 1878, concerning living conditions on the field:
Possibly you may have noticed throughout this letter that I have made frequent illusions to physical discomforts & to weariness of mind & body. I have always been ashamed in writing of missionary work to dwell upon physical hardships & then too we get so accustomed to take them as a matter of course that it does not occur to us to speak of them save in a general way. In this letter I have purposely departed from my usual reticence upon such matters because I know that there are some who, in their pleasant homes in America, without any real knowledge of the facts, declare that the days of missionary hardships are over. To speak in the open air, in a foreign tongue, from six to eleven times a day, is no trifle. The fatigue of travel is something. The inns are simply the acme of discomfort. If anyone fancies that sleeping on brick beds, in rooms with dirt floor, with walls blackened by the smoke of generations- the yard to these quarters being also the stable yard, & the stable itself being in three feet of the door of your apartment if anyone thinks all this agreeable, then I wish to declare most emphatically that as a matter of taste I differ. If anyone thinks he would like this constant contact with what an English writer has called the “Great Unwashed,” I must still say that from experience I find it unpleasant. If anyone thinks that constant exposure to the risk of small-pox & other contagious diseases against which the Chinese take no precautions whatever, is just the most charming thing in life, I must still beg leave to say that I shall continue to differ in opinion. In a word, let him come out & try it. A few days roughing it as we ladies do habitually will convince the most skeptical. There is a passage from Farrar’s “Life of Christ,” which recurred forcibly to my mind during this recent country tour. “From early dawn … to late evening in whatever house He had selected for His nightly rest, the multitude came crowding about him, not respecting his privacy, not allowing for his weariness, eager to see Him… There was no time even to eat bread. Such a life is not only to the last degree trying & fatiguing, but to a refined & high strung nature… This incessant publicity, this apparently illimitable toil becomes simply maddening unless the spirit be sustained.” He was the Son of God but we missionaries, we are only trying in a very poor way to walk in His footsteps & this “boundless sympathy & love” is of the divine & not the human.
A few words more & I have done. We are astonished at the wide door opened us for work. We have such access to the people, to their hearts & homes as we could not have dared to hope two years ago.
But there is one living sacrifice Lottie made that I especially wish to draw to your attention. Miss Moon never married, though she did receive a proposal that she would turn down. There was a brilliant Hebrew and Old Testament scholar named Crawford Toy. Some have called him the “crown-jewel” of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as he was one of their earliest and, without question, brightest young faculty members. Though all of the precise details are not clear, a general outline of the relationship between Dr. Toy and Miss Moon can be sketched.
They met when she was a student at Albemarie Female Institute and he was an assistant to the principal, a noted educator name John Hart. At the time Lottie “was considered a brain and a heretic.” It appears Lottie and Crawford developed something more than a student-pupil relationship during her time there.
Toy committed himself to be a missionary. Lottie would make the same commitment a few years later. Set to sail for the mission field in 1860, Toy mysteriously did not go.
In 1870, Toy returned from studying in Germany to teach at Southern Seminary. He had ingested the liberal historical criticism popular in European Universities.
Around 1876 Lottie returned from China accompanying her sister Edmonia (“Eddie”) who had suffered an emotional breakdown while on the field. At this time she and Crawford Toy saw each other and apparently rekindled their relationship. This would continue in some measure until 1882.
Controversy on the mission field led Lottie to consider leaving China and returning to America to marry Toy (Some Moon scholars believe the proposed marriage may have occurred earlier when Toy was planning to go to Japan and Lottie was beginning to sense God’s call to missions as well.)
The wedding never took place. According to Toy’s own family, the engagement was broken because of religious differences. It appears Toy’s slide into theological liberalism and backtracking on going to the mission field led Lottie to break off their engagement. Toy would go to Harvard and die a Unitarian. Lottie would remain in China and die alone. Lottie was later asked by a young relative, “Aunt Lottie, have you ever been in love?” She answered, “Yes, but God had first claim on my life, and since the two conflicted, there could be no question about the results.”
Later, in 1888, Lottie would forcibly address the “new theology” of Toy and others that was being much discussed in America. With keen insight, she saw it would be fatal to the missions enterprise. She used the occasion to critique its danger and chide her fellow Baptists for their missionary indifference. Her biographer Catherine Allen summarizes her prophetic call:
Although she was committed primarily to teaching the women, and next to dealing with the children, she could not keep the men from listening from adjoining rooms. In the case of Sha-ling, the men were the primary inquirers. Each evening and on Sunday she would conduct a service of worship. In a little low-ceilinged room, lit by wicks in saucers of bean oil, the worshipers would gather. A makeshift screen of grain stalks divided the crown of men from women. With Miss Moon’s direction, the semiheathen men would lead singing, read Scripture, rehearse the catechism, and pray. Miss Moon would sometimes comment on the Scripture. If Mrs. Crawford were present, she would be willing to deliver what amounted to a sermon.
With such ready response to the gospel, Miss Moon was incredulous that Southern Baptist preachers and young women were not flocking to China. From Pingtu she quickened the flow of appeals. Now she turned to shaming, chiding, flattering-any tactic to get the attention of the apathetic Baptists. In one appeal she concluded that the folks back home had all adopted the “new theology” the Baptist editors had been criticizing ever since the Toy episode. One had predicted that “new theology” would quench the missionary spirit.
“I conclude that the large majority of Southern Baptists have adopted this ‘new theology,’” she wrote. “Else, why this strange indifferences to missions? Why these scant contributions…. The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent. People talk vaguely about the heathen, picturing them as scarcely human, or at best, as ignorant barbarians. If they could live among them as I do, they would find in the men much to respect and admire; in the women and girls they would see many sweet and loveable traits of character…. Here I am working alone in a city of many thousand inhabitants with numberless villages. How many can I reach?”
IV. Live a Worshipful Life
The consecrated life is what Paul calls “your reasonable service” (NKJV). Other English translations render it: “your spiritual act of worship” (NIV), “your spiritual service of worship” (NASB), and “your spiritual worship” (ESV; HCSB).
The point Paul is making is a consecrated life is a worshipping life. It is a constant and continuous life of service lived out 24/7 in thanksgiving for all that we enjoy in Christ. It is a life truly satisfied in God, His good, His glory.
Such a life grows out of love and reverence for the Bible
In Lottie Moon’s Bible she wrote, “Words fail to express my love for this holy Book, my gratitude for its author, for His love and goodness. How shall I thank him for it?”
Such a life grows out of a confidence in the providence and sovereignty of God
“I have a firm conviction that I am immortal til my work is done.”
Such a life grows out of dependence on the Holy spirit
“I feel my weakness and inability to accomplish anything without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Make special prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in P’ingtu, that I may be clothed with power from on high by the indwelling of the Spirit in my heart.”
Such a life grows out of a love for the lost
Lottie wrote, “We must go out and live among them, manifesting the gentle, loving spirit of our Lord. We need to make friends before we can hope to make converts.” During the 1890?s Lottie set a goal to visit two hundred villages every three months. She would write, “I have never found mission work more enjoyable…. I constantly thank God He has given me a work I love so much.” Lottie adopted traditional Chinese dress and learned their customs. Not only did she serve them, she identified with them, even in her death.
Published in the Aug 1887 Foreign Mission, Journal
I feel that I would gladly give my life to working among such a people and regard it as a joy and privilege. Yet, to women who may think of coming, I would say, count well the cost. You must give up all that you hold dear, and live a life that is, outside of your work, narrow and contracted to the last degree. If you really love the work, it will atone for all you give up, and when your work is ended and you go Home, to see the Master’s smile and hear his voice of welcome will more than repay your toils amid the heathen. Lottie wrote, “I would I had a thousand lives that I might give them to the women of China.” The year of her death, 2,358 persons were baptized in her field of service, nearly doubling the Baptist population in the area.
Such a life grows out of a love for Jesus
May 10, 1879, Letter to H. A. Tupper
Recall for a moment the thoughts that crowd upon the mind. This ancient continent of Asia whose soil you are treading was the chosen theatre for the advent of the Son of God. In a rush of grateful emotion there came to your mind the lilies of that grand old hymn the “Dies Irae,” “Seeking me Thy worn feet hasted, On the cross Thy soul death tasted,” and your heart is all aglow with longing to bear to others the priceless gift that you have received, that thus you may manifest your thankfulness & love to the giver. He “went about doing good”; in a humble manner you are trying to walk in his footsteps. As you wend your way from village to village, you feel it is no idle fancy that the Master walks beside you and you hear his voice saying gently, “Lo! I am with you always even unto the end.” And the soul makes answer in the words of St. Bernard, that holy man of God, “Lord Jesus, thou are home and friends and fatherland to me.” Is it any wonder that as you draw near to the villages a feeling of exultation comes over you? That your heart goes up to God in glad thanksgiving that he has so trusted you as to commit to your hands this glorious gospel that you may convey its blessings to those who still sit in darkness? When the heart is full of such joy, it is no effort to speak to the people: you could not keep silent if you would. Mere physical hardships sink into merited insignificance. What does one care for comfortless inns, hard beds, hard fare, when all around is a world of joy and glory and beauty?”
On her deathbed, speaking to her friend and fellow missionary Cynthia Miller, Lottie said, “Jesus is here right now. You can pray now that he will fill my heart and stay with me. For when Jesus comes in, he drives out all evil…. Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. Do you know this song, Miss Miller?” Miss Miller would write following her death, “It is infinitely touching that those who work hardest & make the most sacrifices for the Master should suffer because those in the homeland fail to give what is needed.” T. W. Ayers, a fellow missionary to China, wrote, “[Lottie Moon] is one woman who will have her crown covered with stars. She is one of the most unselfish saints God ever made.”
Miss Lottie Moon died at age seventy-two, a frail fifty pounds, refusing to eat that her food portion might go to others. Her remains were cremated at Yokohama, Japan, on December 26. Personal effects consisted of one streamer trunk. The executor of her estate W. W. Adams sold off all of her personal property and cleared her bank account of $254 in inflated local currency. He would write with a broken heart, “The heiress of Viewmont did not have enough estate to pay her way back to Virginia.” She had given all she had to King Jesus. Twenty years following her death, Chinese women in remote villages would ask, “When will the heavenly Book Visitor come again?” Their testimony about her was, “How she loved us.”
One year following her death, Agnes Osborne suggested the annual Woman’s Missionary Union foreign missions offering being taken be collected as a living memorial to Lottie Moon, since her suggestions launched the offering to begin with. In 1918 Annie Armstrong, for whom the SBC Home Missions offering was established, said, “Miss Moon is the one who suggested the Christmas offering for foreign missions. She showed us the way in so many things. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to name the offering in her memory?” The issue was settled, and the rest is history. Every year, SBC churches contribute to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.
Following her death fellow missionaries came in possession of her Bible. On the flyleaf words were found which she had penned that remain to this day a perpetual encouragement to those who go for Christ to the nations, “0, that I could consecrate myself, soul and body, to his service forever; 0, that I could give myself up to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own or to have any will or affection improper for those conformed to him.”
She did. Will you?
1I am indebted to the following valuable works that served as sources for Lottie Moon’s biography and her correspondence: Catherine B. Allen, The New Lottie Moon Story (Nashville: Broadman, 1980); and Keith Harper,Send the Light: Lottie Moon ‘s Letters and Other Writings (Macon, GA: Mercer University, 2002).