“Who Was Lottie Moon & Why Is She Important?”
(This brief talk was given Sunday, November 8, 2015 at my church)
Introduction: I am here this morning to give you a brief talk about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. We are going to begin with a few survey questions, then give the briefest of histories of the Southern Baptists, the SBC missions efforts, and the Cooperative Program, then we will look quickly at Lottie Moon’s story, and close with the challenge set before us.
1. How many of you are NOT born and bred Southern Baptists? If you were not raised in the SBC please raise your hand and wave vigorously!
2. How many of you have attended SWBTS or are married to someone who attended, or the College, or are or have been employed by the Seminary, raise your hand and wave.
3. How many of you have served on the foreign mission field as a Southern Baptist or were raised by parents who were missionaries, or you have gone on a mission trip overseas with this church or another SBC church?
4. This question is for the children and youth, have you ever given any money to the church offering?
A Brief History of Southern Baptists, SBC Missions, and the Cooperative Program:
As we saw in our survey, there are many in our congregation who did not grow up as Southern Baptists and may not be as familiar with our history, and the Lottie Moon story as those of us who grew up in the SBC.
The earliest Baptist Church in America may be the First Baptist Church of Charlestown, SC, founded in 1682 although Roger Williams founded a Baptist Church in Providence RI in 1638. But the Baptists were pretty much one bunch of folks and needed to fund missions somehow so in 1814 the fiercely independent Baptist Churches formed the Triennial Convention (they only met once every three years and were based in Philadelphia) to combine their funds in missionary efforts. This was the first nation-wide Baptist denomination but spawned another group of Baptists to break off who were opposed to combining efforts for missions. One of the Baptists’ core ideas is independent, local congregations, freedom, and the idea of cooperating with other churches kind of went against the grain.
The issue of slavery, however, was soon to cause another division in the Baptists. By 1844 the Triennial Convention’s mission society had stopped appointing Baptists from the South because they supported slavery and in 1845 Baptists in the South formed the Southern Baptist Convention so that they could appoint missionaries. It wasn’t until 1995 that the SBC formally voted on a resolution renouncing its racist past even though a large number of SBC churches had already become multi-racial and fully integrated. But the bottom line is that the SBC was founded by a sinful people who still believed in Jesus and were committed to spreading the gospel on the frontier and overseas. We remain a sinful people, committed to spreading the gospel with missionaries overseas. When I was growing up in the SBC the only part of the story I was told was that we were founded in order to send missionaries, the whole slavery thing was left out. But I believe that sinful part of our story is important, it demonstrates God’s amazing grace to a bunch of sinners in that he still used us to spread His gospel.
During the early decades of SBC life, and during Lottie Moon’s time, Baptist missions were funded by the Society Method, meaning that separate individuals formed the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (established at the urging of the English Baptist, William Carey). This was outside the denominational structure and could be subscribed to by individuals or churches as they saw fit, but it was a very inefficient method of raising money for missions as most of the money raised went to pay the costs of raising money! The SBC finally adopted the Co-Operative Program in 1925, 13 years after Lottie Moon’s death. The SBC immediately saw an increase in funding for missions and the program has served us very well now for 90 years.
The Cooperative Program funds all the SBC agencies and programs besides missions, but gives just over 50% of its funds to the IMB. Those of you who have attended SWBTS and raised your hands earlier are beneficiaries of the Cooperative Program as some of that money helps fund the seminaries which keeps costs down for the students and provides jobs for those who work there. Our church gives a set percentage of our income to the Cooperative Program every month. But as efficient as the Cooperative Program is, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is even More efficient. The money the IMB receives from the Cooperative Program covers all the administrative costs of the IMB PLUS goes to the missionaries, but 100% of every dollar from the Lottie Moon offering goes directly overseas to real live missionaries. So boys and girls, when you place that nickel, that dime, that quarter, or that dollar bill in the offering for Lottie Moon, every bit of that money goes to a missionary and their work in foreign lands. It is the most efficient giving plan for missions ever. Now let me talk briefly about Lottie Moon herself.
Lottie Moon, Charlotte Digges Moon, (her nickname, Lottie, came from the last part of Charlotte) was born in Va. on a big plantation (with over 50 slaves) called Viewmont on Dec. 12, 1840, and her parents were instrumental in building a Baptist church in the nearby town of Scottsville. Lottie and her siblings observed a lot of quarreling in their family over differences in religion as one side of the family joined the Campbellites, or the Disciples, so they kids avoided church whenever they could. Her father died when she was 13 and at 14 she was sent to a boarding school. After graduating from that school she attended Albemarle Female Institute in Charlottsville where she built an impressive academic record and began a romantic relationship with her teacher Crawford H. Toy. Lottie was very petite at only 4’3”. Let me ask Miss Katy **** to come forward as an illustration….(Katy, how old are you? “Eight.” And how tall are you Katy? “4’4”. Well, Miss Katy, you are 1” taller than Miss Lottie Moon was!) Lottie was small physically but she was an intellectual power house who learned several classical and modern languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian and Spanish, and, of course, Chinese).
Lottie went to a revival preached by John Broadus in 1858 and was saved by God’s grace. She went on to become a teacher, but believed the Lord was calling her to be a missionary to China a year after her younger sister, Edmonia, went to China as a missionary in 1872. Lottie was appointed by the SBC to serve in China at the age of 33 and served til she died in 1912 at the age of 72. Lottie broke off her engagement to Professor Toy over a couple of issues: she believed Toy had departed the faith, having been corrupted by German liberal scholarship and she believed in her call to serve as a missionary in China. She committed to be single.
We have several, wonderful single ladies in our church that I want to encourage with the story of Lottie Moon, used by God to lead a revival in China. Tricia*** (single lady in the church), how many mission trips have you been on with Redeemer Church? “5”. God uses single ladies in missions! Consigned to being a teacher in a school for Chinese children, Lottie felt that her gifts were being underutilized. In 1885 she moved to the interior of China and began full time evangelism with Chinese women who could not be reached by the male missionaries. The Lord gave her hundreds of converts and churches were planted.
Lottie endured war, plagues, famines and political upheavals during her 39 years in China. Her letters home pleading for money and changes in policies greatly affected the SBC and their missions programs leading to the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. But her real success lay in the Church in China which grew and grew, survived and thrived under the communist takeover and the subsequent cultural revolution and severe persecution. Today there are more Christians in China than any other country in the world, in large part to the way the Lord used Lottie Moon, and a sinful people known as Southern Baptists.
Over the next several weeks, pray for what the Lord would have you contribute to this Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions.
Allen, Catherine B. The New Lottie Moon Story, Second Edition. Women’s Missionary Union: Birmingham, Alabama 1980 (320pp.)
Barnes, W.W. The Southern Baptist Convention 1845-1953. Broadman Press: Nashville, TN 1954 (329pp.)