The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering raises hundreds of millions in donations every year to support international missions on behalf of Southern Baptists. But behind this extraordinary offering is an equally extraordinary woman.
Moon was a missionary—and a revolutionary for global missions. A teacher who set sail for China determined to share the Gospel, she offers today’s Christians a compelling narrative with powerful lessons. Her story of conviction, persistence, and courage to spread the Gospel throughout late nineteenth-century Northern China helped shape Southern Baptists’ global work for the Kingdom of God.
Readers probably know by now that Lottie Moon is one of my most favorite and inspirational Christian figures. She was not perfect (e.g. her overuse of the ampersand), but her legacy has much to teach us about following Jesus and spreading the Gospel. Her letters home to colleagues, family, and friends offer her first-hand account and are conveniently preserved in Keith Harper’s book Send the Light.
Here are seven quotes from Lottie Moon that emphasize Christians’ urgent responsibility to spread the Gospel:
1.) “But, when the veteran missionaries of our church shall fall at their posts after lives of unselfish devotion, where, we sadly ask, are their successors? Who shall take up the banner they have borne so bravely through weary years of gloom and discouragement? I think your idea is correct, that 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.'”–Letter to Dr. H.A. Tupper, Corresponding Secretary of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, November 1, 1873
2.) “At our very doors is the work we crave. The heathen are literally all around us. I have already had the pleasure of going with my sister on some of her visits to the native women. Much tact is necessary in dealing with these as the aversion to foreigners is still very strong. Some will not admit us at all; others listen coldly and with evident restraint; only a few hear the word gladly. Nevertheless, we must ‘sow beside all waters.’ We know that God’s word can not ‘return void.'”–Letter to Tupper, November 1, 1873
5.) “After mature consideration added to the experience of the present year now closing, I do not feel any inclination to resume the school…I cannot do both school and country work so as to satisfy my own conscience. If I have a school I must devote to it my whole time & strength or it seems to me inefficient. I don’t mean to this as criticizing those who think & work differently, but we must all plan & judge for ourselves. As between school & evangelistic work, being free to choose, I elect to do the later.” — Letter to Mrs. Sallie Holmes, December 8, 1884 (Moon later reopened her boarding school for girls as well as a school for boys, writing the “necessity” for education was great.)
3.) “Years ago I disapproved of women coming to Tungchow to work because the conditions of life here were too hard & the work accessible too little & too difficult, it seemed to me, to justify the sacrifice. Now, the way is open & I urge that many women be sent & sent as promptly as possible.”–Letter to Tupper, November 6, 1888
3.) “I am holding on, after more than eleven years of work, at considerable risk of permanent injury to health. Yet I must not leave until others are here to take over the work…Please say to the new missionaries that they are coming to a life of hardship, responsibility & constant self denial. They must live, the greater part of the time, in Chinese houses, in close contact with people. They will be alone in the interior & will need to be strong & courageous. If ‘the joy of the Lord’ be ‘their strength,’ the blessedness of the work will more than compensate for its hardships. Let them come ‘rejoicing to suffer’ for the sake of that Lord & Master who freely gave his life for them.” —Letter to Annie Armstrong, January 9, 1889
7.) “I wonder how many of us really believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive. A woman who accepts that statement of our Lord Jesus Christ as a fact, and not as ‘impracticable idealism’ will make giving a principle of her life. She will lay aside sacredly not less than one-tenth of her income or her earnings as the Lord’s money, which she would no more dare to touch for personal use than she would steal. How many there are among our women, alas, who imagine that because ‘Jesus paid it all,’ they need pay nothing, forgetting that the prime object of their salvation was that they should follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ!” —Letter published in the December 1887 Foreign Mission Journal
6.) “The famine has not extended to our part of China. It is mainly confined to Central China…Missionaries are engaged in distributing food, or money, in the famine region. The risk they run from famine fever and small-pox is not slight, but, no doubt, they have counted the cost and are ready to lay down their lives, as others have done in previous famines.” —Letter to Annie Armstrong, March 23, 1907