Assistant Faith Editor
Charlotte “Lottie” Moon was born on Dec 12th, 1840 and is the namesake of the International Mission Board’s Southern Baptists’ international missions offering. She was a single missionary to China, who wrote a massive number of letters encouraging American churches to send and support international missions.
Each Christmas, the IMB’s ‘Lottie Moon Christmas offering’ raises thousands of dollars from churches throughout the nation to fund grocery bills for overseas missionary families and school payments for their children. As a kid of a missionary family who grew up overseas, it was funds from this Lottie Moon Christmas offering from local Oklahoma Baptist churches and others like it throughout the country that bought my family’s groceries, allowed me to have a bus card, and paid for my education staffed by other ministers who taught my high school classes and mentored me in the Word of God and in my Christian walk.
The International Mission Board website gives details on Lottie Moon’s life and ministry saying, “Lottie served 39 years as a missionary, mostly in China’s Shantung province. She taught in a girls’ school and often made trips into China’s interior to share the good news with women and girls…The aroma of fresh-baked cookies drew people to her house. She adopted traditional Chinese dress, and she learned China’s language and customs. Lottie didn’t just serve the people of China; she identified with them. Many eventually accepted her. And some accepted her Savior”.
Lottie Moon was a devoted minister to the Chinese people, inviting people into her life with hospitality and kindness to better show them the love and character of her savior and God.
Not only did she lay the groundwork for the Chinese church to develop and flourish, but she also called her home church and all of the established churches in the United States to answer the call to send and support international missions to places of unreached people groups.
The IMB informational page says, “Lottie frequently sent letters back home detailing Chinese culture, missionary life, and the physical and spiritual needs of the Chinese people. Additionally, she challenged Southern Baptists to go to China or give so that others could go… She once wrote home to the Foreign Mission Board, ‘Please say to the [new] missionaries they are coming to a life of hardship, responsibility, and constant self-denial’.” At the continual behest of Lottie Moon, the American churches started to respond.
The IMB informational website says, “By 1888, Southern Baptist women had organized and helped collect $3,315 to send workers needed in China… [and in] 1918, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) named the annual Christmas offering for international missions after the woman who had urged them to start it.” To this day, the Lottie Moon Christmas offering is one of the biggest recipients of Christmas generosity towards international missions.
On the topic of Christmas generosity and charity, Lottie Moon is recorded in her letters as saying, “Why should we not…do something that will prove that we are really in earnest in claiming to be followers of him who, though he was rich, for our sake became poor?”
It is the spirit of Christian generosity especially at personal expense towards those who cannot return the favor, that has defined and should define our churches, our communities, our homes, and our personal spending ethic. In a materialist and individualistic culture, it truly can be how we treat our pocketbook and paycheck that can set us apart as having a security and identity far above and beyond anything that this world can sell us.