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Faith on Mission

I.  Introduction:

 Lottie Moon is considered the most famous Southern Baptist Missionary. Such a claim is recognized by the fact that each year a Christmas offering is given for foreign missions that is named after her. We will look briefly tonight at her life and the impact she made on Southern Baptist missions. Once again we will close by considering how we can imitate her faith.

II. Biography:

 A. Birth and conversion: Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Moon was born on December 12th, 1840 in Virginia.  Her family was wealthy and believed in education, even for their girls, which was rare at the time.  From an early age Lottie was sent to school and proved to be a good student.  Over her lifetime she would actually learn several languages (Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French, Spanish) and become an accomplished writer (mostly of articles and letters for missionary publications).  Her father died when she was twelve years old, but her mother continued to support her education.  Although Lottie was raised in a Christian home, she rejected the faith in her early years.  In fact, she openly mocked the faith throughout her teenage years.  Yet, in December of 1858, at the age of 18, Lottie was convicted and converted under the preaching of John Broadus (one of the founders and second president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary).  Pastor Broadus continually encouraged the students to service and mission, which led Lottie to consider foreign missions.

 B. Mission to China: In 1872, Lottie’s younger sister, Eddie, went to China to serve as a missionary, being only 21 years old.  This even seemed to confirm Lottie’s calling to missions and a year later (1873) Lottie surrendered to join her sister in China.  She would spend the rest of her life (39 years) serving in that country for the Name of Christ.  She served in North China, in the city of Tengchow for the first twelve years of her service.  The rest would be spent in the city of P’ingtu.  She began as a teacher to children but soon began traveling from village to village speaking the gospel to the women and children who would listen.  After a time in China, she began to adopt the dress and customs of the Chinese, which allowed her to reach out to more and more in that culture.  As noted above, she constantly wrote letters and articles back to Southern Baptists in the United States.  She pleaded with them to fund more missionaries and more missions efforts in China.  It was these efforts that led to the development of the ‘Christmas Offering’ in cooperation with the WMU in 1888.  They collected over $3,000 dollars that first year for sending missionaries to China.  Since then, that offering has literally raised millions and millions of dollars for foreign missions.  And even now we can give to support foreign missions by giving to the ‘Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.’  

 To demonstrate her self-sacrifice for the faith and for missions, let me tell a few stories from her service and life.  Like Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon was never married.  Apparently she was engaged to be married to a brilliant scholar named Crawford Toy.  Although the details are uncertain, it seems that she refused to marry him because of his liberal beliefs about Scripture and his convictions about missionary service.  She could not compromise her beliefs and her devotion to missions for marriage.  In 1890, persecution of Christians broke out in a city near where Lottie was serving.  She traveled to the city and told the leaders: “If you attempt to destroy his church (one of the early Chinese converts to Christianity), you will have to kill me first.  Jesus gave Himself for us Christians.  Now I am ready to die for Him.” 1  One started to attack her but was restrained by the others.  Because of her stand with the other believers in that city, the Church there became one of the strongest in North China.  Later in her life, war broke out in China.  One of the local hospitals was abandoned for safety, leaving behind only the patients and the personnel of the hospital.  When Lottie heard this, she traveled to the hospital (at risk of her own life), organized the workers, and stayed with them until others risked their lives to come and help.  After this, Lottie again traveled through an area where serious fighting was taking place.  When the two sides heard that Miss Moon would be coming that way, they agreed to stop fighting until she safely made it through.

 C.  Death: Lottie returned from furlough in 1904 to find the situation bleak in China.  Many did not have enough food.  Thus, she started giving her food away to others and living on meager rations for herself.  By 1912, this practice had taken its toll on her body.  The Mission Board arranged for her to come home and she died on the ship that would bring her back to the States.  She weighed only fifty pounds when she died.  She gave her life for the mission to take the gospel to the Chinese.

III.  How can we imitate the faith of Lottie Moon?

 Lottie Moon willingly sacrificed herself for the gospel.  She was so committed to seeing people believe in Christ that she gave up her chance at marriage, risked her life repeatedly, and starved herself to death to see that others could have food.  She possessed a self-sacrificing faith.  May we be a people who are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel.  That will not look the same for each of us, but we should all be committed to making the necessary sacrifices to get the gospel to a lost and dying world.  One place we could start is by sacrificially giving to the ‘Lottie Moon Christmas Offering’ to support foreign missions today.  Let us give like Lottie was willing to give.  Let us sacrifice because of what Christ has sacrificed for us.  In the end, when we stand before Him on that final Day, we will say together that we did not ‘sacrifice’ a thing.  Amen.

1 Quote in Daniel L. Akin, Five Who Changed the World (Wake Forest, NC: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2008), p. 61

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Monday, 14 November 2011 )

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