LOTTIE MOON – MISSIONARY TO CHINA (I)
(12th December 1840 – 24th December 1912)
Lottie Moon (birth name: Charlotte Digges Moon) was barely four feet tall and weighed only 50 pounds. Yet, the Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board was known as “the little woman with a big legacy”. She served in Tengchow and Pingtu, Northern China, for nearly 40 years, finally passing away onboard a ship in the Japanese port of Kobe on 24th December 1912.
Today, her name lives on in the history of China missions and in the Southern Baptist annual Christmas offering, which she initiated in 1888 to support missionaries serving in foreign countries.
o Family background
Born to godly parents, Edward Harris Moon and Maria Barclay, Lottie was fourth in a family of five girls and two boys. As a child, she was precocious and outspoken by nature.
Raised on the family’s vast plantation near Scottsville, Virginia, Lottie enjoyed a privileged life. The family had 52 servants and a home tutor to teach the children languages and classical literature.
o Aversion to Christianity
Though she grew up in a family of staunch Baptists, young Lottie did not share her parents’ religious fervour. In fact, for the first 18 years of her life, she scoffed at their faith and sought every opportunity to skip church.
“Further aversion to her parent’s Christianity can be seen in Lottie’s Sunday habits. In order to preserve the Sabbath, the Moon household would prepare all their meals on Saturday. However, this never suited Lottie. Instead of attending church, she would sneak off, return to their large home and prepare a meal for herself before the family returned. She was by her own admission a ‘naughty’ girl. And as she aged, this did not change. It only worsened” (Lottie Moon: A Brief Biography by David Schrock).
Lottie was so skeptical of Christianity that she insisted that the middle initial “D” in her name stood for “Devil” and not “Digges” which was her family name. When her father died in a tragic riverboat accident, thirteen-year-old Lottie remained cold and indifferent.
A year later, Lottie enrolled in the Baptist-affiliated Virginia Female Seminary where she often skipped chapel. She continued her studies in Abermale Female Institute, Virginia. A good student, she excelled in literature and foreign languages – Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew. She believed that wisdom could be gained not through Christ, but through literature and classical studies.
When she was eighteen, Lottie was converted under the ministry of John Broadus, one of the founders of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Broadus had called for a series of revival meetings, and prayer services to pray for the lost – including one in their midst called Lottie Moon, the proud skeptic.
While the church prayed for her salvation, God wrought grace in her heart. One night, Lottie was kept awake by a barking dog. She began to think of her eternal destiny. Deeply troubled, she decided to attend the revival meeting the very next evening. She went to the meeting as a skeptic but left the service convicted of her sins and need for the Saviour. She returned to her room to pray all night. Lottie was baptised on 22nd December 1858.
After her conversion, Lottie returned to school to complete her degree. She now pursued her religious courses with renewed fervour. Three years later, she received her Master of Arts degree.
In her early years as a Christian, Lottie was fully committed to the Southern cause during the Civil War. During those days of extreme hardships, she learnt to trust God more fully. She wrote: “No trouble comes upon us unless it is needed” and “we ought to be just as thankful for our sorrows as for our joys” (http://alindsey4.blogspot.sg/2009/12/biographical-sketch-lottie-moon.html). (… to be continued)