The Missionary Mindset series looks into the lives of notable missionaries to provide valuable insights and inspiration. Read the last post in the Missionary Mindset series here.
Lottie Moon lived a life of total sacrifice and surrender to God and the people of China. Despite her small size and stature, Lottie Moon’s work has left an enormous impact on the people of China and missions around the world.
Charlotte Digges Moon, better known as Lottie Moon, was born December 12, 1840 to Edward Harris Moon and Anna Maria Barclay. Lottie’s childhood was one of wealth and comfort, as her and her many siblings grew up on a large Virginia plantation.
However, despite her earthly advantages, Lottie had a rebellious nature about her. Though her parents were firm in their Baptist faith and beliefs, Lottie continually rejected any notion of Christianity throughout her childhood
By the time Lottie was 17, she enrolled in the Albemarle Female Institute in Virginia. She was an esteemed student, especially in the subjects of literature and foreign languages. Any sense of wisdom Lottie found was in her literature and classical studies.
Her heart remained hardened to the love and wisdom of Christ as she continued to fervently oppose the faith of her family.
However, in 1858, Lottie attended a Christian revival meeting at her college. This sermon stirred up a sense of hope in Lottie, and she left to go pray in her room for the remainder of the night. The very next day, Lottie publicly professed her faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior, and was baptized at First Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia.
As she returned to school, Lottie had a renewed perspective of life.
Lottie graduated from Albemarle Female Institute in 1861 with a Master of Arts in Classics. She was one of the first women in the southern United States to earn a Master of Arts degree, making her among the most well-educated women of her time. She pursued a career in teaching, and successfully taught in schools throughout Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia.
Still, Lottie wasn’t satisfied with where she was. She felt a calling from God elsewhere.
Around the same time, the door began opening to unmarried female missionaries. In 1872, Lottie’s sister, Edmonia, was appointed to be a missionary in Tengchow, China. The very next year—when Lottie was 32 years old—she was appointed to missions in Tengchow as well.
She left her job, home, family, and a marriage proposal to love and serve the people of China to the best of her abilities.
She did just that.
Though Lottie was initially rejected by her neighbors and others in the community, she continued to pour herself out to them. To be seen as a friend to the Chinese people, Lottie worked tirelessly to learn their language and customs, as well as adopt traditional Chinese dress. Lottie even made fresh-baked cookies often to open her home to her neighbors. Eventually, many people accepted Lottie and welcomed her into their culture.
Lottie taught in an all girls’ school to share the love of Christ with her students. She didn’t stop there, though. Lottie began making regular trips to China’s interior, to visit more rural towns.
She found that the people of these communities were much more receptive of the gospel than those living in the city. Lottie was desperate for people, especially women, to have an intimate relationship with Christ.
Lottie faced many threats while living in China. Disease, turmoil, and a lack of other missionaries and resources were all threats to the work that Lottie had been doing. Lottie began writing letters home giving detailed accounts of the hunger for truth the Chinese possessed and the urgent need there was for more missionaries to be in China. She encouraged Southern Baptists to support her and her coworkers through prayer and giving.
Through these letters, Lottie inspired the formation of many women’s groups in support of missions, eventually leading to the formation of the Woman’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention (WMU).
Their first project was to take an offering at Christmas to give in support of sending additional women to assist Lottie in China. In 1918, the WMU renamed the offering to be the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
Due to malnutrition and illness during the national famine in China, Lottie Moon died on December 24, 1912 aboard a ship on her way back to the United States. Though her death was sudden, her work in China was lasting. There is no doubt that the life and legacy of Lottie Moon continues to inspire believers all over the world to this day.
More Inspiration from Lottie
- “A young man should ask himself not if it is his duty to go to the heathen, but if he may dare stay at home. The command is so plain: ‘Go.’”
- “Should we not press it home upon our consciences 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?”
- “Surely there can be no greater joy than that of saving souls.”
- “Only believe, don't fear. Our Master, Jesus, always watches over us, and no matter what the persecution, Jesus will surely overcome it.”