Every December for the past 127 years, Southern Baptist churches around the world collect millions of dollars for missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. Here are five facts about the missionary Lottie Moon.
1. Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon was born in 1940 to a family of affluent tobacco farmers. She was well-educated and became one of the first women to earn a Master of Arts degrees at an institution in the southern U.S. On July 7, 1873, the Foreign Mission Board officially appointed Lottie as a missionary to China, where she would serve and work for forty years.
2. When she first came to China, Moon had a rather snobby view of the Chinese, considering the people and their ways to be inferior to Americans. But in 1885 Moon moved to the countryside and became the first American woman to attempt to live exactly as the Chinese did, adopting their dress and language and showing a greater appreciation for their culture. Her efforts helped to ingratiate her with her Chinese neighbors. Moon told the Mission Board, “I am more and more impressed by the belief that to win these people to God, we must first win them to ourselves. We need to go out and live among them, manifesting the gentle and loving spirit of our Lord…We need to make friends before we can make converts.”
3. In 1888, a handful of women dedicated to the cause of missions founded Woman’s Missionary Union. Moon suggested they take up a Christmas offering be collected to send missionaries to China and to help her and support her work. That initial Christmas offering collected $3,315 (roughly $75,000 in 2015 dollars) and was named for Lottie Moon in 1918. Since it’s inception almost $4 billion has been collected for the fund, including $154 million in 2013.
4. Affected by the famine caused by the conflict and plagues in China, Moon often shared her meager food and finances with the people around her. This affected her health and in 1912 she weighed only 50 pounds. Her friends and colleagues attempted to send her back to the U.S. but she died en route at the age of 72.
5. Moon’s life has been memorialized in a motion picture (“The Lottie Moon Story”), books, a cookbook, children’s biographies, playlets, Christmas cards, and recordings. In China, a monument to her was erected in the yard of Dengzhou Baptist Church in 1915, bearing her name, a brief explanation that she was an American missionary, and the words “How she loved us.” Moon is also honored with a feast day (December 22) on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA).
Reprinted from The Weekly by a rundown of news by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission highlighting the week’s top news stories from the public square and providing commentary on the big issues of our day.