Introducing Lottie Moon, Her Sacrifice, and the Missions Offering Taken in Her Name


Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.
Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
— Hebrews 13:7 —

On Christmas Eve in 1912, some eight months after the sinking of the Titanic, there was another loss of titanic proportions. On the other side of the world, on a boat in the harbor of Kobe, Japan Lottie Moon—all 50 pounds of her starving body—breathed her last. She had run her race to the end and finished well!

For forty years, this 4′ 3″ firebrand served as a missionary to the people of China. After growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia and becoming one of the most educated women in the South, this single woman took her teaching gifts to the other side of the world.

At the age of eighteen she was convicted of her sin and trusted in Christ. For twelve years, she taught school throughout the South. But compelled by the need for the gospel in China, Lottie Moon followed her sister Edmonia to become a teacher on the other side of the world.

In a short time, she faced incredible difficulties. Personally, she was forced break an engagement with C. H. Toy, a prominent but every-increasing liberal Hebrew professor. Vocationally, she faced the hostility of a people who despised her and called her a “foreign devil.” And relationally, she saw her own sister succumb to sickness, forcing Edmonia to leave the mission field.

Still, through the difficulties that spanned twenty-years and beyond, she changed her gospel methods, adapted her accustomed dress, and endured in the face of hardship. Continue reading

Lottie Moon: Lessons From Lottie

Lottie Moon was a changed woman, from the teenager who once told people her middle name was ‘devil.”  But her life in Christ also shows sanctification, for coming to China was racial superiority in her heart, she prepared for her next voyage to heaven consumed with seeing the Chinese come to Christ. In truth, she was a disciple of Christ that had left every thing in order to follow her Savior.  Like Jesus words in Mark 10:29-31, she embodied the call of discipleship, and she was rewarded handsomely for all that she left.

Consider Jesus words again, in light of Lottie’s life…

“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel [Lottie had done all of those things], who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Lottie’s name lives on in missions history and in the Southern Baptist’s yearly Christmas offering which goes exclusively to fund missionaries all over the world.  Her life is filled with examples of God’s providence and favor, even as she endured many trying times.  Overall, she is an inspiration to missional living, one who gives us many lessons for following her faithful example.  Let us consider six of them.

  1. She was a constant student.  She loved learning about her master and how to reach others with the message of Christ.  While she was predisposed towards learning even before her salvation; it is evident that salvation fueled her love for knowing more about her Savior.  In this way, she was a true disciple.
  2. She accepted the tragedies of life as means of sanctification and guidance in her life.  It is easy to grow embittered by the things God’s brings into our life, but in Lottie we see how God turns the poisons of life into useful medicines to cure her of deadly heart diseases.
  3. She constantly inquired into how she might best use her life for the service of her king.  She teaches us to not grow satisfied with this life, but to improve our lives with a greater zeal for Christian service.  At all times, we ought to be willing to leave everything behind and follow Christ.  Lottie did, and she challenges us to do the same.
  4. She found her treasure in the unseen realities of life.  With such heavenly treasure in her heart, she exhausted her life for the sake of the Chinese and for the sake of the missionary endeavors of Southern Baptist.
  5. In Lottie Moon, we see an example of a genuine follower of Christ.  She did not arrive in China as the perfect specimen of missionary service.  She was disgusted by the culture and the primitive conditions of the Chinese, and yet, in time God grew her to be Christ-like in her service.  She became a living sacrifice, one that we do well to consider and imitate the faithfulness of her life.
  6. Finally, her life in comparison to Crawford Toy is striking modern-day parable.  Like the contrast between the rich young ruler and the children who sought Jesus presence, Toy and Moon reflect two kinds of people.  In Toy, we see someone who gained the whole world—he achieved academic success, he was Harvard professor beloved of students and acclaimed as a brilliant scholar—but who in the end forfeited his own soul.  He lost is luster for Christ and he died as a mere theist.   In Lottie Moon, however, we see someone who lost the whole world—she forsook her pedigree, received scorn for leaving US, suffered greatly, experienced innumerable hardships, and she died weighing less than 50 pounds—but gained an eternal reward in heaven.  She was or rather became the least, in order that Christ might be prized the most.  She left Toy, in order to pursue Christ and his church in China, and accordingly she is an example of someone who gladly counted her life as nothing compared with the exceeding joy of knowing and serving Jesus.

These are only a few of the lessons available from Lottie Moon. You can learn more about here life and ministry here. During this season of missions giving, may we consider Lottie’s life and imitate her faith.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Lottie Moon: Service and Solicitor for Missions Giving


When Lottie evaluated her ministry in China, she felt that the first 18 years of the work were just sowing with very little reaping.  From 1873-1890, she labored to learn the language, the customs, and the best ways to do evangelism.  And it was only after 2 decades that she began to see much fruit. Part of this was the way Lottie conceived of conversion.  She was not looking for numbers but transformed lives.  But also, it was the providence of God.  Sometimes in God’s perfect timing, the fruit takes much longer to form than we would want.  Yet, this should not have been a surprise to Lottie, for 18 years was the same amount of time it took for her own conversion.

As the years turned into decades, the focus of her ministry changed.  In 1873, Lottie began as a school teacher to young girls, but after ten years, she requested a permanent change to a ministry comprised of personal evangelism. She wrote to her supervisor, “Under no circumstances do I wish to continue in school work, but I long to go and talk to the thousands of women around me” (387).  This adamant statement was not a disgruntled complaint, but a heart that had traded in her intellectual pursuits for more personal ministry.  She continues, “If I am to devote myself to evangelistic work in the city and country I must be free from the school” (387).  This change would prepare the way for her most fruitful years of ministry, still eight years away.

It is worth noting the conditions that she endured in China. Her reports describe “long days of teaching, traveling, enduring poor weather and verbal abuse, uncomfortable accommodation, and nauseating food” all of which “had no romantic appeal for her.”  Remember, Lottie was a Southern Belle who used to skip church to eat heavy meals.

Like Jesus, she would often go days without personal times of quiet and solitude.  While she experienced a kind of loneliness in China, there were other times she could not be left alone.  When she would travel into the countryside, the Chinese women and children would badger her with questions, fondle her clothing, and interrogate her manners.  They had a childlike inquisitiveness that never failed to verbalize what they were thinking, and there would be times when she would nearly crack under the pressure of constant scrutiny.

For 30 years, this was the majority of her work.  Going house-to-house, village-to-village, introducing women and children to the gospel.  There were times when she would “preach” to mixed audiences (men and women), because she feared for their souls.  She did not want to miss the opportunity to tell the good news, but her standard ministry target was the women and children.

Missions Fund Raiser

Teaching and personal evangelism did not exhaust her duties, because she also served as a valuable reporter from China back to the United States.  A compelling writer, she held regular correspondence with the Foreign Mission Board back in Virginia, and her stories were widely circulated among the women’s missionary societies that were springing up in the late 1800’s.

This written correspondence is perhaps what has left the greatest legacy among Southern Baptists.  And among all her letters, her plea for funds during the Christmas season in 1887 is the one that has had the longest lasting effect.  Writing to Southern Baptist women, she says,

How many there are among our women, alas! 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 following the footsteps of Jesus Christ in bringing back a lost world to God, and so aid in bringing the answer to the petition our Lord taught his disciples: ‘Thy kingdom come”’ (383).

She would later say,

Should we not press it home upon our consciences,’ she asked, ‘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? (383)

Lottie Moon’s Enduring Legacy

Such was the boldness of Lottie Moon.  She picked up her cross and daily followed Jesus Christ, and she was glad to call others to do the same.  Indeed, she did so because of her love for her Savior and for the people of China.  Her joy was increased as she saw the Chinese come to faith, and she called others to increase their joy as well.

This is the reason why today Southern Baptists take up a missions offering in her name.  The goal is not to guilt people into giving, but out of the overflow of the heart, men and women might give funds so that more people might hear the gospel and the chorus of praise around the world might increase.

For a view on gospel-motivated giving, see my Gospel-Motivated Generosity is a Mark of True Obedience.

Check back tomorrow to consider a number of lessons from Lottie Moon’s life.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Lottie Moon: Her Conversion and Call to China


Just before Christmas of 1858, Lottie Moon was converted.  And I say converted because it is evident that God acted upon her.  Like Romans 3 says, she was not seeking after God.  As she was pursuing vain things; God’s grace broke into her heart.  By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, she was born again.

Still, while God converted Lottie, the sovereign Lord used means, and she was converted under the ministry of John Broadus. This is the same Broadus who would go on to become one of the four founders of Southern Seminary. Broadus was the pastor of Moon’s church and a principal at the school she attended.  In the fall of 1858, Broadus called for a series of evangelistic meetings and prayer services.  He called his congregation to come together to pray for the lost.  And certainly with family and friends in the church, they were praying for the proud skeptic, Lottie Moon.

During that week, there was a night in which Lottie Moon could not sleep.  A barking dog kept her awake, and her mind raced with thoughts of her eternal destiny and the state of her soul before God.  This sleepless night prompted her to go to the meeting the next evening.  While intending to scoff, she left that service to pray in her room all night.

She was baptized a few days later after professing faith in the God she had spent her life opposing.  And her profession was more than just a verbal testimony.  A family friend remarked about the immediate change in Lottie:  “She was different… in those details of the daily life which at last afforded the most delicate test of Christian character.” (W.E. Hatcher quoted by Nettles, 365).

Upon her conversion, she returned to school, to not only finish her degree.  While she had taken many courses in religion before, she now pursued them with a renewed vigor.  So passionate was she to study, she took every single course that the school offered!  And when she graduated in 1860, John Broadus remarked that Lottie Moon was the most educated woman in the South.

A Teaching Life (1860-1872)

Now if you are following along, you know that her graduation came one year before the Civil War.  During that time she participated in the life of the Confederate army, assisting where she could.  After all, she was a Virginia Belle.  But during the Civil War, she also served as a tutor for a family in Georgia.  This would lead her into a lifetime of teaching service.

In 1866 she moved to Kentucky to teach in the female academy operated by the First Baptist Church of Danville, Kentucky.  Four years later, she would move again to Cartersville, Georgia where she taught for less than a year.  Hearing the news that her mother’s health was failing, she returned home to care for her mother.

During the remaining days of her mother’s life, the two women spoke often about the call of God to use one’s short life in the service of the gospel (Nettles 367).  This burning question—How to best invest one’s life for Christ?—would have tremendous effect on Lottie, for in every future season of her life, she was always asking how she could best use her short life for advancement of the gospel.

And it seems that while her mother lay dying, God birthed in Lottie a desire to reach the nations for Christ.   In these maternal conversations her eyes were lifted from the women of the South, to the nations abroad.  Moved to action, Lottie began supporting two missionaries as she continued to teach in Georgia.  For the next two years she would support these gospel ministers while inquiring herself into service in China.

During this period, she was greatly influenced by her sister, Edmonia, because it was not Lottie’s initial idea to travel overseas. She had received great commendation for her work as a pioneering educator in the years after the Civil War, and she was content to stay.  In fact, most around her strongly discouraged Lottie from wasting her life upon the foreign mission field.  Thus, it took the strong pleading of her sister who had previously sailed to China and the prayers of the Chinese missionaries to dislodge her from her successful field of labors.  Yet, through it all, it was the Lord who was calling, and Lottie as a genuine disciple, simply followed his command.

The result of following Christ, for Lottie, meant that for the next 40 years, she would walk with the people of China, and in the end, she would literally sacrifice her life for the sake of their eternal souls.

If you are interested in learning more about Lottie, see yesterday’s post on her upbringing and education.  And check back tomorrow for her missionary career. 

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

The Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Better Investment Than Gold

[Preparing for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I wrote an article for our church’s monthly newsletter on a gospel-motivated vision for giving to the work of Jesus Christ in spreading his fame throughout the earth.  Needless to say, giving to the kingdom of God is an investment worth more than the weight of gold, but one that is only empowered by the work of God in our hearts].

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly?
For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you
(1 Chron 29:14).

Before Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, and Buffet stood a philanthropist whose greatest desire was to build a temple for God (2 Samuel 7).  Speaking of his desire, King David says in Psalm 27, “One thing have I asked of the Lord that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” Truly, David was a man after God’s own heart, and it is evident in the way he dedicated himself to the Lord’s work.

Though God denied David’s desire to be the temple’s foreman, he ordained David to be the developer who raised the financial capital needed to build God’s house. 1 Chronicles recounts how David collected supplies for the house. 1 Chronicles 22 even lists the amounts: 4,000 tons of gold equaling 53 billion dollars today; 36,000 tons of silver, equaling 8.9 billion dollars today, plus bronze and iron ‘beyond weighing’ (22:14).  Needless to say, compared to King David, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, and Buffet together would find themselves on the light side of the scale.  In addition to the amount King David collected, he also contributed his own personal wealth–Over 110 tons of gold and more than 260 tons of silver (1 Chron 29:3-4).

Yet, notice what David thought about his giving.  His motivation was not that of a debtor paying off his pledge, nor that of a duty-bound king.  It was not even the tax-incentivized contribution of the modern American.  Rather, David gave as a beloved son (2 Sam 7:14).  Overwhelmed by the grace of God, he marveled at the fact that God would allow him to bring such an offering.  His rich contribution humbled him because he recognized the real Giver of the gift (cf. 1 Cor 4:7).  In short, David gave a only a fraction of all that God had given him, yet he gave willingly because he reckoned all that he owned as God’s.  Hear his words in Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”

The apostle Paul had the same sentiment.  Speaking of the Macedonian’s generosity, he wrote, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor 9:11).  Paul’s point is that for Christians, we ought to be motivated by God’s superabundant supply and to give accordingly—always for the praise of God’s great name (see 2 Cor 9:6-15).

The point is not that large gifts merit God’s favor (see Luke 21:1-4), but rather that meditation on God’s favor, moves us to give largely.  God’s goal in giving is our eternal joy and freedom from the empty promises that money makes: You can gain the whole world and forfeit your soul: Material possession doesn’t equate to happiness or eternal security.  Thus, God always works in the hearts of his people to make freewill offerings, motivated by the largeness of his love (see Exodus 35:29).  David is such an example.

So was Lottie Moon.  Compelled by the love of God, Lottie gave the ultimate gift—her own life—to the Chinese people whom see loved.  From an aristocratic family in Virginia, she died of starvation in Asia.  She invested her life and beckoned others to give their to the only cause that lasts forever–the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Why?  Because like David, she knew the faithfulness and love of God in Jesus Christ.  Thus her service was delightful, not dutiful.  She gladly sacrificed so that others might know the glorious God of grace.  This December as we take up an offering for Lottie Moon missions, might we like David and Lottie, be motivated by the joy-producing gospel to give to the work of the Great Commission.

May God increase our joy and liberate our hearts as we give unto him, “a cheerful gift!”
Pastor David