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Lessons from Lottie Moon’s life recounted

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Many people know her name. Few know her story.

The remarkable life of Charlotte “Lottie” Moon was recounted by Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, during the Dec. 4 final chapel service of the fall semester.

Every December, the memory of Lottie Moon is honored by Southern Baptists when a worldwide missions offering is taken in her name, to be given to the cause of carrying Christ’s name to the nations.

“I have no doubt, having spent many months in her biography and letters, that Miss Lottie would be both amazed and embarrassed at all the fuss that is made about her each year by Southern Baptists,” Akin said. However, more than $2.8 billion has been raised in her name for missions. Nearly 120 years after she first urged Southern Baptist to raise more than $3,000 to send three missionaries to China, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering grew to a gift of more than $150 million dollars in 2006.

“Hers was not a perfect life, no doubt,” Akin said. “It was, however, a powerful life, a life lived for King Jesus and a life worthy of our careful study and attention.” Akin said his study led to four lessons that Lottie Moon’s life exemplifies. Moon lived a grateful life, a total life, a sacrificial life and a worshipful life, all traits for which modern missionaries also should strive, Akin said.

Citing Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship,” Akin said Moon’s life exemplified the passage. “Here is the power of a consecrated life, a life sold out to the Lordship of Christ, a life our Lord sovereignly chose to multiply many times over.”

Moon’s gratitude to God for her salvation was the basis of her challenge to people, especially Southern Baptists in the United States, to give to mission work, Akin said.

Akin read from a letter penned by Moon in which she stated, “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 ‘impractical idealism,’ will make giving a principle of her life.”

Akin continued reading from the letter: “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!”

Moon lived a total life in devotion to the Lord and to the Chinese people, to whom she spent 39 years ministering, Akin said. She was completely committed to the cause of Christ and spreading the Gospel overseas, so much so that she wrote numerous letters detailing her position on the need for more missionaries, especially men, in China and elsewhere in the world.

In a letter to A.H. Tupper, the head of Southern Baptists’ mission board, Moon wrote, “What we need in China are more workers. The harvest is very great, the laborers, oh so few. Why does the Southern Baptist church lag behind in this great work?” Moon added, “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.'”

“Lottie repeatedly struggled with the tragic fact that more did not answer the call to missions, especially men,” Akin said.

Moon lived a sacrificial life in giving everything, including her chance to marry and even her own life, to reach people with the Gospel, Akin said.

“There is one living sacrifice Lottie made that I especially wish to draw to your attention,” Akin said. “Miss Moon never married, though she did receive a proposal that she would turn down.” The proposal came from Crawford Toy, a well-known Hebrew and Old Testament scholar, whom Moon had met while she was a student. However, as their relationship progressed, Toy became more and more theologically liberal, Akin recounted.

“It appears Toy’s slide into theological liberalism and backtracking on going to the mission field led Lottie to break off their engagement. Toy would go to Harvard and die a Unitarian. Lottie would remain in China and die alone,” Akin said.

Moon was later asked whether she had ever been in love. Akin said she replied, “Yes, but God had first claim on my life, and since the two conflicted, there could be no question about the results.”

Akin said her first love, God, called her home to heaven on Christmas Eve of 1912 while she was in a harbor in Japan. At the time, Akin said, this small woman was a scant 50 pounds, refusing to eat because of the famine in the land.

Her memory was honored the following year by the Woman’s Missionary Union, who named their annual foreign missions for her, Akin said. Within a few years, an annual Christmas offering for foreign missions was established among Southern Baptists in the name of Lottie Moon, who had first voiced the idea for such an offering.

“Why this strange indifferences to missions? Why these scant contributions…. The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent,” Moon wrote in a letter. “Oh! That my words could be as a trumpet call, stirring the hearts of my brethren and sisters to pray, to labor, to give themselves to this people.”
Lauren Crane is a writer for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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