Southern Baptist’s Most Famous Missionary: Lottie Moon

Missinary with chinese womenLottie Moon is the “Southern Baptist’s most famous missionary” and I thought that I would share some facts about her life:

  1. Her real name was Charlotte Diggs Moon.
  2. Lottie was born in 1840 in a devout Christian home but she didn’t become a Christian until the age of 16. In fact, she “scoffed at religion until her conversion” (McBeth, 1987, 416).
  3. She had two sisters who were missionaries. One was a missionary in China and put pressure on Lottie to join her also as a missionary. The other sister served as a medical missionary with the Church of Christ in Jerusalem for a time. Due to depression her sister in China returned to the states after serving only four years and committed suicide in 1908.
  4. Lottie was a good student and was gifted at learning languages.
  5. In February 1873 her pastor preached a sermon on missions and Lottie went forward, and said to him, “I have long known that God wanted me in China” (McBeth, 1987, 417).
  6. In July 1873 Lottie was appointed as a missionary in China and proved to be an effective missionary gifted for the work.
  7. Lottie first served in Tengchow and later moved to Pingtu, a remote city where she was the only missionary. During her time in Pingtu she would write, “I hope no missionary will ever be as lonely as I have been” (McBeth, 1987, 417).
  8. Lottie served for fourteen years before taking her first furlough.
  9. Lottie advocated for a more active role for women in missions which caused a stir and almost her resignation. Her missions board refused her resignation and even sought out her counsel in later years.
  10. Lottie considered getting married twice to the same man in “1861 and again in 1877” (McBeth, 1987, 418) but she broke off the engagement both times. Most likely due to his doctrinal positions as it seems that he was forced to resign his professorship from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She never did marry.
  11. Overdue a furlough, Lottie refused to go on furlough until a replacement for her could be found but funding made it impossible to find one.
  12. “In 1877 she suggested” the idea “of a special Christmas offering” to the “Baptist women of Virginia” (McBeth, 1987, 418).
  13. This offering was supposed to be a one time thing to be able to fund a furlough for Lottie.
  14. Lottie found out that “Methodist women planned to observe a week of prayer before Christmas, with a missionary offering, she suggested a similar plan to the Baptist women” (McBeth, 1987, 418).
  15. In 1888 The Woman’s Missionary Union accepted Lottie’s challenge for a special Christmas offering.
  16. The Union’s goal was $2000 but they actually received $3,315.26.
  17. The special Christmas offering became an annual event “among Baptist women” (McBeth, 1987, 418).
  18. Advancing in age and “under the hardships of the Boxer Rebellion” (McBeth, 1987, 418) Lottie was plagued by the same depression that ran through her family.
  19. Lottie refused to eat and starved herself because she thought that the Chinese girls in her school were starving because of lack of food due to the hard times caused by the Boxer Rebellion .
  20. Lottie’s health was deteriorating and a nurse, Cynthia Miller, was sent by the missions board to bring Lottie home.
  21. They never made it back to the states and in Kobe, Japan, Lottie “fell into a coma and died on Christmas eve 1912” (McBeth, 1987, 419).
  22. Lottie’s body was cremated and her ashes were brought back home “in a small brown package” (McBeth, 1987, 419).
  23. There was a small memorial service held for her in Richmond, Virginia, and she was buried at her home church in Crewe, Virginia.
  24. “Her simple monument includes the words, ‘faithful unto death’” (McBeth, 1987, 419).
  25. In 1913 the Christmas offering was larger than ever and it was a memorial to “Lottie’s first Christmas in heaven” (McBeth, 1987, 419).
  26. In 1918 the annual Christmas offering “was named the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions” (McBeth, 1987, 419) at the suggestion of Annie Armstrong.
  27. Since first suggesting it in 1887, Lottie’s Christmas offering has provided billions of dollars for missionaries out on the foreign fields.

McBeth, Leon. The Baptist Heritage. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, ©1987.

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About Peter van Brussel

Peter is the Director of For His Glory Prison Ministry. Peter holds a BA in Pastoral Studies from Southwestern College, a MA in Theological Studies, and a M.Div. from Liberty University. Peter is married to Niki, and has two children. He has been saved by grace and seeks to share the Gospel with those who have been forgotten.
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2 Responses to Southern Baptist’s Most Famous Missionary: Lottie Moon

  1. Jamie Carter says:

    The Southern Baptists continued to deny leadership roles for women, giving them being missionaries as their only choice. Constantly undermining the Women’s Mission Board, they removed their support for missionaries making the work far too expensive and forcing many missionaries to quit for lack of funds. Every year, they continued to take up the Lottie Moon offering, but little progress was made. Finally, in the mid 1960s, they ordained their first woman pastor, but they changed their mind and re-wrote the Baptist Faith and Message (their by-laws) in the year 2000 to limit the office of Pastor to men. As a result, women with missionary gifts won’t have the resources to go and women with pastoral gifts won’t have the opportunity to use them. Since women make up a majority of the church, there’s really nothing they can do to contribute to running the church or serving as deacons or elders because that’s for men only, leaving a minority of men to do everything except watch nursery, clean things, and cook food – that’s woman’s work. But hey, at least they take up money in Lottie Moon’s name every year – she would probably be turning in her grave to know that no progress has been made, but that doesn’t matter as long as somebody somewhere gets all that money for something.

  2. I grew up in the 70’s and dealt with the question of equality in the church and the ordination of women. I found that the Baptist Church best reflected my beliefs as a Christian and also discovered over the years that there has been nothing God has called me to do that has been denied due to my being a woman. If God called me to preach, man’s ordination (or lack thereof) would not keep me from preaching. In fact, in the last forty years, I have served God in every capacity you could imagine except as a senior pastor of a church. the autonomy of the individual church is what has made this possible. I have always belonged to churches that have allowed me to use my gifts as needed. You may have some valid points but to say that “no progress has been made” is incorrect. The question is progress in allowing women to do things that men have traditionally done or progress in souls saved for the kingdom? Several of my most cherished heroes of the faith have been single women who gave their lives to serve on the mission field, in the North American Baptist Conference and the Southern Baptist Convention.

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