Since this is the month that we take up the Lottie Moon offering, we have been going with the theme of missions. Missions matters because God is a missionary God. Therefore, His people must be a missionary people. From Genesis to Revelation, we see God’s central promise that He will send the Messiah, and that Messiah will win the nations unto himself. It is through the messiah that God’s glory will cover the earth. It is through the Messiah that the lost will be saved.
And yet there are almost 2 billion people who have little or no access to the Gospel. In many corners of the globe there are no churches, no Bibles, and no Christians to bear testimony. Many of these 2 billion people could leave their homes and search, for days and weeks and months, and never find a Christian, a Bible, or a church. It is our responsibility to remedy this. Our Lord commands us in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples of all nations.
So far we have watched three great sermons on why missions is important and tonight I am going to give you a history lesson on Lottie Moon, the person who the fundraiser was named after. I believe that it is important to study great Christians of the past so that we can be encouraged to live with the faith that they lived with. And, I believe that it is important to know who Lottie Moon is because without knowing who she is and what she fought for, placing her name on the Christmas fund will be pointless.
Although I grew up Southern Baptist, I was never taught who Lottie Moon was so each Christmas this offering was pointless, so I do not want to make the same mistake with you all. I want you to know why we not only give to this offering but why we celebrate Lottie Moon’s life be naming it after her. Although her life was not a perfect life, it was however, a powerful life lived for the glory of God, and a life worthy of our careful study and attention.
Lottie Moon was born on Dec. 12, 1840 in Virginia. She was born to a wealthy family, but her families fortunes were devastated after the Civil War. Although her families wealth dwindled after the war, her family was still vastly richer than what Lottie Moon died with on December 24th, 1912. She died aboard a ship in the Japanese harbor of Kobe. She was frail, weak and nearly starved having just passed her 72nd birthday. She weighed no more than 50lbs.
By today’s standards, this would be a tragic story. So why do we celebrate a life that ended in tragedy? What is it about her story that has inspired the Southern Baptist for a Century after her death? I hope that this morning that I will be able to answer these questions and then at the end that you will not see her life as dying in tragedy, but that it was a glorious death because of the self-sacrificing ministry that she lived to proclaim the Gospel. That her death echoed the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-7, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Lottie Moon served our Lord for 39 years on the mission field, mostly in China. Best estimates say this mighty little woman towered all of 4 feet, 3 inches. However, despite her stature this little lady had a certain attractiveness about her and a powerful personality that would be essential in her service on the mission field. She taught in schools for girls and made many evangelistic trips into China’s interior to share the gospel with women and girls.
There are many stories that I could tell about this great missionary, but for the sake of time, I will focus on one of her stories to show her self-sacrifice and love for God’s Word. Many people think that sound doctrine and evangelistic zeal are at odds with each other. You can see this when you ask people what their beliefs are and they will respond, “ I do not know, I just love Jesus.” Although this might appear like humility and a super-spiritual answer, it is in fact just a cop-out of actually having to be able to put their theology into words. Theology is the study of God. Therefore, we all have a frame work of what we believe it means when we talk about God. Therefore, we all are theologians, because we all have thoughts about God, it is just that some of us are better at it than others.
We see in the life of Lottie Moon that she loved God with both her heart and her mind. And she put the Word of God above even her emotional decisions. We see this with her sacrifice to remain single her whole life. She never married although she did receive a proposal that she had to turn down. There was a brilliant Hebrew and Old Testament scholar named Crawford Toy. Some have called him the “crown jewel” of Southern Seminary as he was one of its earliest and, without question, brightest young faculty members.
Toy first committed his life to be a missionary. Lottie would make the same commitment a few years later. They both were set to sail for the mission field in 1860, but Toy mysteriously did not go. Toy instead went to Germany to study. In 1870 Toy returned from studying in Germany to teach at Southern Seminary, however, he had ingested the liberal theology that was popular in the European universities.
Around 1876, Lottie returned from China accompanying her sister who had suffered an emotional breakdown while in the mission field. At this time, she and Toy saw each other and apparently rekindled their relationship. This would continue until 1882. This time the two had planned on getting married and going into the mission field together to Japan.
However, the wedding never took place. According to Toy’s own family, engagement was broken because of religious differences. Toy’s slide into theological liberalism and backtracking once again on going to the mission field led Lottie to break off their engagement. Toy would go on to Harvard to teach, while Lottie gave her life to missions in China and worked and died alone. Lottie was once asked by a young relative, “Aunt Lottie, have you ever been in love? She answered, “Yes, but God had first claim on my life, and since the two conflicted, there could be no question about the results.”
I hope that you all will like Lottie Moon make your decisions on what will most glorify Jesus Christ, not what will make you feel the best at the present moment. That you will be motivated to study God’s Word so that you could love God with both your heart and your mind. If Lottie Moon had not had studied God’s Word so carefully then it would have been easy for a smooth talking liberal scholar to convince her of things that were just simply not true about God, but was just a theology that tickled man’s ears. If she had not been so grounded in God’s Word, the world would have missed out on one the greatest missionaries.
Lottie Moon died a God glorifying death at the age of 72 at a frail 50 pounds, refusing to eat her food portion so that it might go to others. She knew that she was dying and saw it as wasteful for her to eat to prolong her ending life when that same food could be given to someone that depended on it for life. On her deathbed, speaking to her friend and fellow missionary worker, Lottie said, Jesus is here right now. You can pray now that He will fill my heart and stay with me. For when Jesus comes in, he drives out all evil. And she died singing, “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. “
Lottie Moon died without any money, possessions, died without fame, she never saw mass conversions of that like of Billy Graham, she never packed out churches just to hear her speak, she died without a husband and without having children, and died on a boat thousands of miles from family.
SO WHY IS THIS A SUCCESS STORY THAT WE AS SOUTHERN BAPTIST HOLD UP AS AN EXAMPLE OF AN SUCCESSFUL MISSIONARY?
20 years after her death, Chinese women in remote villages would ask, “when will the Heavenly Book visitor come again?” Their testimony about her was, “how she loved us.”
And I pray that those that God places in your life will say the samething about you. That you are man or woman of God’s Word and you will be known for your love for them,