I love missionaries. No lie. I love them. I once told my mother I was going to be like the apostle Paul and never marry, then be like a missionary and just travel all the time. I don’t remember her exact response but it had the feeling of, “Let’s just wait and see.” Then in eleventh grade I met my future husband so clearly God had other plans. But I still love missionaries. I love to go on trips with my husband and encourage church planters and their wives, I love to sit with waiting missionaries and listen to their heart and passion for a people group. I love to read missionary biographies. So this post is dedicated to my first girl missionary love: Lottie Moon.
If you grew up in a Southern Baptist church you probably know the name Lottie Moon because there is a Christmas offering named after her to help support international missionaries. So yes, Lottie Moon was a real person. We had G.A.’s (Girls in Action) at the church I grew up in, so I learned about Lottie at an early age. I knew she was short, un-married, moved to China, and died on a boat coming back to America. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to locate books about Lottie. But thanks to Amazon I have a couple, “The New Lottie Moon Story,” by Catherine Allen and “Heroes for Young Readers: Lottie Moon,” by Renee Taft Meloche and it’s a children’s book. I also have a book titled, “Lottie Moon Cookbook,” that has her famous tea cookie recipe. The story goes that she used to bake these tea cookies for the children where she lived in China and that’s how she met their mothers and that’s how she was able to start ministering to families.
The reason I like Lottie so much is because she was trailblazer for her time and for women. In the mid-1850’s the first single woman was appointed to be a missionary and it was later called “unsuccessful.” However, there was also women in the mission field that were married and all agreed that ideally a single woman had much better chances of ministering to some women in places like China due to time and lack of other duties such as mothering and having to work outside the home. There were plenty of people at work in the background to finally make the reality of women in the mission field happen. On July 7, 1873 Charlotte Digges Moon was officially appointed a missionary by the Foreign Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia. A male colleague of Lottie’s once said, “…going to China, she feels as if she were going home. A lady of fine intellect, of rare culture, and of splendid social gifts, she lays herself on the altar of sacrifice to glorify Him who purchased her with His precious blood. Virginia never reared a truer, nobler woman. May Heaven abundantly bless her in her noble mission.”
I read an article the other day about how to treat missionaries returning home. It made the point that some missionaries purchased a one-way ticket hoping to never return. But because of funding or health issues they are returning. That was Lottie, she said her forever good byes when she departed in September of 1873. She was commissioned to stay in China until “total breakdown or death.” Wowza.
On October 25 a well-traveled Lottie arrived in Tengchow and that would be her home for the next 39 years. Upon arrival she (and any American) was called a “foreign devil.” This is true today as well. Not all people groups are excited to see American missionaries on their beloved soil. Lottie did end up going back to America because her sister was ill and she came back to China proving that a single woman was having more impact on the Chinese people than American men. Upon her death stories say she was on a boat back to America weighing about 50 pounds and ship men thought she was of Chinese descent because of her dress and hairstyle but then they noticed her eyes were round. She had immersed herself in China and became Chinese by her look and her lifestyle. She loved the Chinese people, the Chinese land, and the Chinese culture. She used their own ways to reach them. She used her Southern hospitality to make them feel as ease but used their own ways to make them feel comfortable around her.
Funny enough, while re-reading some books for this post I’m reminded what a strong-willed lady Lottie Moon was. There is a story in one book that she used to tell her schoolmates her middle name was “Devil” and she made regular visits to her principal’s office. Upon talking to my daughter about a visit she paid to her principal I’m reminded of how God uses strong-wills for His glory. Even when I’m behind bars in Bible studies I meet ladies who are strong-willed and they get in trouble from the guards and even as adults are learning how to use the temperament God gave them for His glory instead of their own glory.
Hopefully, by reading this post you realize why Lottie Moon is in the She Who Is Able category. She had a call on her life and did nothing short of miraculous in China for God’s glory…not her own.
Enjoy this video from 2012: