(12th December 1840 – 24th December 1912)
o Ministry in China (1873 – 1912)
By now, Lottie had become an expert in the Chinese language and culture. To identify with the people, she dressed like the Chinese. While in the interior, she received a special call from the men of Pingdu:
“In 1885, a group of men walked 300 miles to beg her to come ‘teach truth’ to them. Moon heeded their call, making a four-day mule journey to settle in the city of Pingdu. She was thought to be the first woman of any foreign mission group in China to live alone among the Chinese people, beyond the reach of United States government protection. She was also one of the first women to establish a church in China. She did everything but baptise the new converts in Shaling (Saling) Village, just outside of Pingdu. She usually taught women only. Yet she was glad when men listened outside the paper-covered windows, or at the edge of the threshing floor where women learned while they worked.” (www.Christianitytoday).
The Lord blessed her ministry in Pingdu, and hundreds were converted. Pastor Li Shou-ting, a co-worker and one of her male converts, baptised more than a thousand people in Pingdu. Though he suffered grievously in the Boxer Rebellion, Pastor Li became a highly-regarded evangelist and lived to baptise thousands of people during his ministry. As for the humble village of Pingdu, it became the greatest Southern Baptist centre in China.
In later years, other missionaries continued the work, “and the district provided the denomination with its greatest number of converts – some 400 in 1903 and 1,400 by 1910, in the field pioneered by Lottie Moon” (http://creation.com/lottie-moon).
• Prolific writing campaign
Gifted with prolific writing skills, Lottie wrote hundreds of letters to Baptist periodicals, churches and women. God used her writings to influence many to enter the mission field and to support foreign missionaries.
“Moon’s letters and articles poignantly described the life of a missionary and pleaded the ‘desperate need’ for more missionaries, which the poorly funded board could not provide. She encouraged Southern Baptist women to organise mission societies in the local churches to help support additional missionary candidates, and to consider coming themselves. Many of her letters appeared as articles in denominational publications” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottie_Moon).
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
One of Lottie’s most important contributions was her challenge to Southern Baptist women to start a missionary union for the support of foreign missions. In her letter to the Foreign Mission Journal in 1887, Lottie had proposed a collection for foreign missions a week before Christmas each year. This prompted Southern Baptist women to form a missionary union – “Woman’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention (WMU) – for the support of foreign missions. The WMU initiated an annual Christmas offering for foreign missions – “an offering later named for Moon, which grew from an initial $3,000 in 1888 to more than $82 million in 1993” (www.bu.edu/missiology/missionary-biography/l-m/moon-charlotte-lottie-diggs-1840-1912/). The first offering of $3,315 collected in 1888, was used to send three missionaries to China.
During her forty-year ministry in China, Lottie faced, among other things, the dangers of war and unrest – the First Sino Japanese War in 1894, the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the Chinese Nationalist uprising in 1911. These wars also greatly hindered the work of missions.
Besides these difficulties, Lottie had to endure famine and diseases. In 1904, when she returned from her second furlough, China was facing a grievous famine. Though she pleaded for more funds, the mission board could not help because of financial struggles. Unknown to her fellow missionaries, Lottie gave her money and food to those in need. As a result, her physical and mental health deteriorated. Lottie became depressed and her body grew weaker.
In 1912, her fellow missionaries arranged for her to return to the States with a missionary nurse. However, Lottie did not make it home. She died on Christmas Eve, while on board a ship in the harbour of Kobe, Japan. She was 72.
As a teenager, Lottie Moon despised the Gospel and the faith of her parents. But when she was converted at the age of 18, she became a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. She consecrated her whole life to serve the Lord Whom she loved. When she first arrived in China, she was put off by the culture and primitive conditions of the Chinese. But with time, she grew to love them and willingly made sacrifices so that she could win them to Christ. God used her gift of writing to challenge Christians back home to support foreign missions and to send more missionaries to China.
May the life of this faithful servant of God inspire us to devote ourselves to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. Let us emulate Lottie’s faith and be willing to give our all for the sake of the Gospel.