China Ramblings! Podcast, Episode 4, Lottie Moon

Podcast Notes
Thank you for listening to the China Ramblings! Podcast, this is Mark: Today I would like to tell you about the life story of…

Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon
Born: December 12, 1840
Died: December 24, 1912
From: Scottsville, Virginia (near)

Lottie Moon was a Southern Baptist missionary who served in Northern China for 39 years (1873–1912).

She grew up in a very wealthy southern family. He parents were strong Baptist, and she went along with their faith until her educated taught her otherwise. Later, when she was about 18, she was convicted at a revival meeting and became a born again Christian. From that point on, Lottie was passionately serving God.

Lottie was a well-educated woman for that time period. She was an activist to see that women could be educated and had more rights.

Her parents lost their fortune after the civil war.

Lottie was busy trying to make a difference by education young women in a girls school and serving in her local church.

Then something happened…

Lottie’s younger sister was accepted as a single women missionary, something unheard of with the Southern Baptist Foreign Missions Board. Lottie had also been dreaming of being a missionary, so this prompted here to apply as well…

She wrote the mission board and her sister about the opportunity to go, and she responded at the ed of the letter with: “I cannot convince myself that it is the will of God that you shall not come. True, you are doing a noble work at home, but are there not some who could fill your place? I don’t know of anyone who could fill the place offered you here. In the first place, it is not everyone who is willing to come to China. In the next place, their having the proper qualifications is doubtful.” (Kindle Locations 589-592)

Of course not everyone was excited about her going… “Some of the girls’ parents had a different reaction. They asked Pleasant Moon and the school’s board why two talented young women would want to waste themselves on the heathen in some far-off country. Didn’t they know there were good southern girls who needed an education?” (Kindle Locations 600-602)

“The women of the First Baptist Church in Cartersville were excited to think that someone they knew, a woman no less, was going to China as a missionary. It all sounded so adventurous and bold to them. They banded together and formed a women’s missionary society to help Lottie with money and moral support.” (Kindle Locations 604-606)

“In the evenings, Lottie wrote long letters to her many friends, explaining to them why she was going to China. She also wrote an open letter to Southern Baptist churches. It took her a long time to find the right words, but eventually she wrote and encouraged the young men of the church to take up their place in missions. At the end of the letter she added: “For women, too, foreign missions open a new and enlarged sphere of labor and furnish opportunities for good which angels might almost envy.… Could a Christian woman possibly desire higher honor than to be permitted to go from house to house and tell of a Savior to those who have never heard His name? We could not conceive a life which would more thoroughly satisfy the mind and heart of a true follower of the Lord Jesus.” (Kindle Locations 611-617).

She signed up and set off for China, but before she went she “signed the standard Baptist missionary contract stating that she was committed to staying in China until a “total breakdown of health, or death.” (Kindle Locations 619-620)

On October 7, 1873 she arrive in China.

The next 39 years of service in China would be filled with teaching in and helping start schools for boys and girls, going to the villages and doing evangelism through teaching songs, hymns and sharing the gospel. She would spend hours answering the questions of the Chinese people about her and her faith. When those made professions of faith she would have one of the missionary men baptize them and help organize churches/services for the men to come preach at.

She like most missionaries had to struggle with learning the language and culture.

After her sister had a breakdown, she return home with her, but the Christians at home didn’t understand why they return or how hard it was to live on the mission field.

“These people had no idea how difficult or dangerous it was to live in China. As a result, she traveled whenever she could to speak to Baptist groups about the hard conditions in China. She quickly discovered, though, that it was often more effective to write letters to people and churches describing missionary life. She wrote about all the missionaries and their children who had died in China, about the dreadful diseases that were so easily contracted there, about the violence of local militias toward missionaries, and about the stress of living in a totally foreign environment. She encouraged the mission board to be a little more understanding of its missionaries. Indeed, Lottie felt as passionate about educating Baptists concerning the realities of missionary life as she did educating Chinese people about the Christian life. Everywhere she went she challenged American Christians to become more supportive of missionaries regardless of where they served. Otherwise the whole world would not get to hear the gospel. Perhaps it was because of Lottie’s education and her experiences as a missionary, but people began to listen to what she had to say. Mission boards started to ask questions about whether missionaries ought to be able to come home every eight or ten years and whether more attention ought to be paid to providing better housing for them.” (Kindle Locations 957-966)

Lottie returned to China.

She eventually had an attitude switch. “Lottie thought a lot about the opportunities she had to share the gospel message with people who had never heard it before. This was what she had come to China to do. At the same time, it had proved to be more difficult than she had imagined it would be, especially being endlessly watched and touched and asked questions. She liked her privacy and had been raised to believe there were certain questions you didn’t ask people. However, the Chinese valued none of this. Lottie decided as they headed back to Tengchow that it was time to overcome her discomfort at being observed so closely. She wanted to be more like Sallie, who took it all in stride and didn’t become frustrated at being watched all the time.” (Kindle Locations 1065-1070)

At the same time that she was overcoming her struggle with the challenges of living in China, others in America were claiming missionary hardship were over. She wrote home to try to help clear up this issue:

“I am always ashamed to dwell on physical hardships. But, this time I have departed from my usual reticence because I know that there are some who, in their pleasant homes in America without any real knowledge of the facts, declare that the days of missionary hardships are over. To speak in the open air in a foreign tongue from six to eleven times a day is no trifle. The fatigue of travel is something.… If anyone fancies sleeping on brick beds in rooms with dirt floors and walls blackened by the smoke of many generations, the yard also being the stable yard and the stable itself being within three feet of your door, I wish to declare most emphatically that as a matter of taste, I differ.… I find it most unpleasant. If anyone thinks that the constant risk of exposure to smallpox and other contagious disease, against which the Chinese take no precaution whatever, is just the most charming thing in life, I shall continue to differ. In a word, let him try it! A few days of roughing it as we ladies do habitually will convince the most skeptical.” (Kindle Locations 1079-1086)

“The joy of telling others about her faith had conquered her worries about hygiene, illness, and bugs.” (Kindle Locations 1094-1095)

Missionaries were really struggling living on the field. One man fled back to America leaving his wife in China. The mission board was struggling because they didn’t understanding the real problems that missionaries faced and the breaks they needed to stay healthy and sane.

She wrote to the board, “It is as if you were saying to a soldier you were sending to the front, ‘Do battle with the enemy. Mind, no furloughs! We expect you to fall on the field.’ ” (Kindle Locations 1109-1110)

Lottie become the first Southern Baptist women to be given permission to open a new mission station. A Chinese christian couple went with her to start the mission and she used things like sugar cookies to open up doors to talk with people. Her attitude changed once again and she didn’t put up with the all the taunters, but found a new way to respond to them that seemed effective and she started wearing the Chinese clothes which made her fit in better.

Other missionaries were not adjusting so well and one missionary died from as a result of mental and emotional breakdown. In Lottie’s fourteen years in China there were 8 other Baptist missionaries. 3 died. 3 of them returned to the States permanently. 1 resigned and got another job. 1 remained faithful. (See, Kindle Locations 1239-1240)

“Something was about to change among the Southern Baptists back home, however, that would greatly improve missionary life for Lottie and the other Baptist missionaries. The women in Southern Baptist churches had been meeting together for a number of years to encourage missions. They had formed small local mission societies and groups within their churches, but they had never banded together and been given “official” recognition from the powerful Southern Baptist Convention. In May 1887, women from many of these churches met together and decided it was time they had an official voice. With the help of many influential pastors, they pushed the issue until a resolution was passed to link the groups and recognize them as the Woman’s Missionary Union. At the same time, Lottie had been inspired by a practice she had heard the Methodist women were following. The week before Christmas, the women encouraged all Methodists to pray and then give money to missions. Lottie, who noted that the Methodists took much better care of their missionaries, wondered why the Southern Baptists couldn’t do the same thing. She wrote a letter to the Foreign Mission Journal suggesting the church take up such an offering during Christmas 1887. The letter began, “I wonder how many of us really believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive?” Baptist women, feeling newly empowered by their official recognition, were looking for a cause to get behind, and they eagerly seized on the idea of a Christmas offering as a rallying point.” (Kindle Locations 1244-1255)

A great story from her ministry is when two men who arrived at her house to bring her to another village because they heard there was a man named Jesus who could take their sins away. She went and eventually there was a church started there. There were in need or more workers and started mobilization more workers through writing letters back to the States.

Persecution started. The boxer rebellion was underway and Chinese christians were being persecuted and killed. She was in the midst of it. Eventually, all foreigners had to evacuate to a treaty port for safety. A year later it was over and “Over 32,000 Chinese Christians were slaughtered, along with 230 foreign missionary men, women, and children.” (Kindle Locations 1566-1567)

Even though the persecution was horrible it led it was a testimony to the unbelieving Chinese and once the Boxer rebellion was over it let to s spiritual revival and people were getting saved. It also stirred up a new generation of missionaries to come to China and preach the gospel! People who were influenced by the stories of Lottie Moon when they were children were now coming to the field themselves.

1908: “The Southern Baptists now oversaw sixteen churches in North China, along with fifty-six schools teaching over one thousand students. There were forty-two Chinese male evangelists and fourteen female, and over two thousand Christians were baptized church members.” (Kindle Locations 1717-1719)

After a revolution and famine in China, times were very hard and food was very scarce. The mission board was in debt and couldn’t help much. There was so much work to be done and so many needy people around her that she started giving her portion of food to someone else in need. She was slowly starving herself so others could eat. The  other missionaries found out and voted that she should go back to America to recover because she was down to 50 lb. The arranged for her to go back on a boat. As they were sailing back, one night if she woke up several times saying, “We are weak but He is strong!” The next morning Christmas eve she woke up, greeted her friend with her hands after the Chinese custom and passed away. It was 1912.

The Christmas offering was named in her memory and has been taken up every year since 1918.

All quotes taken from: Benge, Janet; Benge, Geoff (2012-03-26). Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China (Christian Heroes: Then & Now). YWAM Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Referenced and more info at:

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