MISSIONARY AND WMU PIONEER
Every Christmas season, WMU® promotes a denomination-wide offering for those serving with the International Mission Board, using 100 percent of the funds collected for missionary support. This offering has impacted thousands of missionaries and is significant because it is named for Lottie Moon, a remarkable missionary and WMU pioneer.
COMING TO CHRIST
Charlotte “Lottie” Moon was born into a wealthy Southern family in 1840. Though her mother was a devout Baptist, Lottie was not converted until adulthood. For many years, she was a skeptic, due in part to her older sister Orianna’s influence. Orianna was one of the first women to graduate from medical school in America; she was incredibly intelligent, politically progressive, and intensely cynical of religion.
While on a trip to the Holy Land in the spring of 1858, Orianna’s eyes were opened to the gospel, and she returned home a believer in Jesus. God used Orianna to speak into Lottie’s life, and by winter of that year, Lottie also came to know Jesus.[i]
Lottie was highly intelligent and one of the first American women to earn her master of arts degree. While in school, the desire to serve overseas began to grow in Lottie’s heart. She was ready to go immediately, but the Lord had her wait. She worked as a teacher and a nurse during the Civil War, trusting God with her desire to go overseas. Finally, on September 1, 1873, she boarded a boat and set sail for China.[ii]
SERVING ON THE FIELD
Lottie was accompanied by another one of her sisters, Edmonia, and other women and men who shared the call to missions. Upon their arrival in China, they quickly realized there were great challenges to the missionary life, including political unrest, severe loneliness, debilitating famine, and funding needs.[iii] Edmonia eventually returned home, unable to take the pressure and hardships of life on the field.[iv] Lottie faithfully continued in her call. She taught in schools, traveled to many villages, planted churches, cared for children, and advocated for woman-to-woman discipleship.
While on the field, Lottie communicated frequently with Southern Baptist women. She was vocal about the difficulties of the missions field and challenged those in the States to provide better support for missionaries. Her determined and insistent push for improvement was a pivotal factor in WMU’s formation. Lottie also inspired WMU to take up an offering to support international missionaries. This began when Lottie refused to take her much overdue furlough until missionaries were in place to continue her work. She pleaded with WMU to raise the money to send two people to take over in her absence. WMU delivered, raising enough money to send three people to relieve her.[v] The 1888 fundraiser was such a success that WMU continued to take it up every year, eventually developing into the Christmas offering we collect today.
Lottie served on the field faithfully, sacrificing her home, energy, and even her food for the sake of others. She gave her life for China, ministering there for almost 40 years until her death in 1912.[vi] Five years after Lottie died, WMU’s fundraiser for international missions was named after her.[vii]
ADVANCING HIS KINGDOM
As you prepare to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®, reflect on the ways God used Lottie and ask Him how He wants to use you. The same God who used this tiny woman (she stood only 4 foot, 3 inches) in the 1800s to advance His kingdom is ready to use you too.
[i] Regina D. Sullivan, Lottie Moon: A Southern Baptist Missionary to China in History and Legend, (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2011), 23-24
[ii] Catherine B. Allen, The Legacy of Lottie Moon, (International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 17, no. 4, 1993), 146.
[iii] Sullivan, Lottie Moon, 150.
[iv] Allen, The Legacy, 147-148.
[v] Allen, The Legacy, 150.
[vi] Sullivan, Lottie Moon, 7-8.