ottie Moon–her name gets tossed around a lot during Christmastime. Every December the International Mission Board collects an offering in her name and each penny goes toward the support of global mission work. But why has Lottie been chosen as a spokesperson for missions? What did she accomplish in her lifetime that has warranted us knowing her? Why should we care about who Lottie Moon was?
Who was she?
On December 12, 1840 Charlotte Digges Moon was born to her Baptist parents in Viewmont, Virginia. Growing to on 4'3", she was much fiercer than she stood tall. She was a rebellious child and adolescent who was known to say that her middle initial stood for "devil." She frequently opposed sabbath rest and skipped 26 chapel services during her time in a female Christian school.
Despite her irreverence as a teenager, she came to know Christ as an 18-year-old through a revival that took place on her college campus. Wrought with musings about her own eternal soul and her state before God, she became a Christian, being baptized soon thereafter. The woman who opposed the Lord and His Church from childhood would now become a crucial person of Christ's mission.
What did she do?
After finishing school and receiving one of the first Masters of Arts degrees awarded to a woman, Lottie became a teacher in a variety of capacities in different cities. Her love of teaching would soon become merged with her love of the Lord and tenacity for the Great Commission. Years later, as Lottie cared for her mother who was on her deathbed, she began wondering how she might use her life, however short, for the sake of the Gospel. It was then that Lottie's heart grew for the Nations.
Lottie never married, but she had her share of suitors. She knew that she wanted to participate in foreign missions, and marriage didn't seem to fit into that vision of her life. However, there was a problem: at that time, mission work was prohibited for single women. Though the opportunity did not yet exist, Lottie's heart was still for the Far Eastern world. In 1873 the Southern Baptist Convention changed the policy, allowing unmarried women to participate in global mission work, soon after Lottie would be assigned the task of taking the Gospel to China, one of the first women to do so.
Lottie's background of teaching bid her well in this assignment and she soon found herself in Northern China teaching in missionary schools. But she wasn't a stranger to evangelizing in rural China, either. Eventually she would leave her teaching post entirely in order to spend more time in evangelism of rural China. She spent most of her ministry sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the women and children in remote villages.
How did she impact the world?
It is impossible to know the reaches of Lottie's work in China, but she led hundreds to know Christ Jesus the Lord. Her mission work was not always "successful" or lucrative, though. She endured hunger, scrutiny, sickness, and war during her time in China. She was known to give her food away to those she encountered, starving herself so that other might be fed.
Her love for the Chinese people grew and grew over her decades of faithful labor in the East. She frequently grew frustrated at the lack of resources afforded to missionaries and wrote letters often requesting aid. Her words compelled action on behalf of the believers back in the United States, obliging them toward greater care of mission work. In one of her most prolific letters she writes:
"Should we not press it home upon our consciences 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?"
Lottie cared deeply about two things: the conversion of souls to Jesus Christ and the funding and care of the missionaries who would bear this labor. She called out the indifference of Christians in America asking, "Why this strange indifference to missions? Why these scant contributions? Why does money fail to be forthcoming when approved men and women are asking to be sent to proclaim the "unsearchable riches of Christ" to the heathen?" Lottie's insistence on funding mission work would eventually become the Lottie Moon Christmas offering established by the International Mission Board that takes place every December. Since 1888, 1.5 billion dollars has been raised for global missions in her name.
Lottie died in 1912 at the age of 72. Her official cause of death was dementia, and she was in route back to America when she passed. Lottie Moon gave her life to the Chinese people in more ways than one.
Lottie Moon was a tenacious woman whose heart was changed by the Lord. But by means of her tenacity, God used her to bring hundreds of people to know Him. The effects of her ministry are still seen in China today. As we reflect on what the Lord accomplished through Lottie, we are compelled to think rightly about what the Lord would have us do in our own lives. We don't search this question out, asking what sort of fame or renown we might receive, but instead we ask ourselves this: what ways, big or small, does God wish to use me? Will I be attentive to the call, no matter what? Finally–how will I leverage my giftings in order to enact the Great Commission.