Acts 1: The Blessing of Obedience

The book of Acts or as it is often called, “The Acts of the Apostles” is actually all about the Lord Jesus Christ. We see here in the first chapter that The Lord has risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Before he leaves he gives the Apostles the charge to be witnesses (specifically of his resurrection) all over the world beginning in Jerusalem (See Acts 1:8).

This is where it gets interesting. The disciples aren’t from Jerusalem and Luke the author of Acts wants you to know that... Indeed two verses later (Acts 1:10) the angels address the Apostles as “Men of Galilee.” Then again just a few verses later the narrator (Luke) reminds the reader that the Apostles are not from Jerusalem because they went back to a room “where they were staying” (Acts 1:13).

I think this is important because Jesus has commanded them to wait there in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them (Acts 1:4). It seems like the natural bent of the disciples would not have been to stay in Jerusalem but head somewhere else (perhaps Galilee… Home). But never the less at the Lord’s command they stay, waiting for the Holy Spirit.

This reminds me of Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus first calls some of his disciples. He tells them to push back out into the water and fish again. Their natural inclination is not to do it…. they want to clean their nets. But never the less, at the word of Jesus they press out and drop the nets and pull in the biggest catch they had ever seen… It is interesting to note that it is just at that point that Jesus tells them that one day they will be fishing for men.

Now here Jesus has told them again to push out of their comfort zone and stay in the city. He will give them the Holy Spirit and they will be his Witnesses starting in the place He told them to go.

Prayer: Father, You are amazing! When these men obeyed you in the small things like casting out a net or staying in the city, you rewarded them with a real relationship with You and you invited them to be your witnesses all over the world. Today I’m reminded to be obedient to you in even the seemingly small things. I want my priorities to be a true reflection of your will. I surrender to you. Today I’m seeking YOUR Kingdom, YOUR Will and I give YOU my obedience. Help me to not to put confidence in the flesh, but trust your wisdom.

Lottie Moon (A Biographical Sketch): Conclusion

The life of Lottie Moon cannot be summed up in the matter of a few pages of history. Thankfully her legacy lives on alive and well in Southern Baptist life. Lottie set foot in the world during a unique time for women and for missions.  She was born into an age when the world was changing: the south was forced to let go of its slaves and look to them as brothers, women were fighting to have a voice in the public forum, and the missions movement was in a delicate infancy as the second generation of missionaries were taking their place on the field.

Lottie Moon forced the Southern Baptist Convention to think through its convictions about the role of single women in missions. On many occasions, because of the lack of men on the field Lottie not only was responsible to lead men to Christ, but to disciple them in some way as well.[1] Her exploits on the field and need for prayer and financial support from America helped women to organize and rally around the cause of missions.

Though the mission movement was underway in Southern Baptist Life, when the time that Lottie Moon came along, it was not well funded. The Cooperative Program would not come into existence until 1925.[2] Lottie found a way to rally women to fund missions and keep the movement alive for subsequent generations.

Lottie surrendered her life to the mission field upon hearing a plea that the workers were few. She then spent her entire life echoing the same cry. She called for men to be men on the mission field. She blazed a way for single women to answer the call. She made a plea to whoever would listen or read her words and rallied women to organize around praying, collecting money and sending workers into the harvest.

Given her work and her life it is fitting that the offing the Southern Baptist collect in Lottie Moon’s name takes place in December. She was born in December of 1840. She was born again in December of 1858. She entered into eternity in December of 1912. Every December since 1918 an offering has been taken in her name. Today though dead, she still echo’s the words of the Savior in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” [3]

 


[1] Kotter, David. “Answering Lottie Moon’s Cry: A Call for Dialogue on the Role of Women in Missions.” The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 13, No. 2 (Fall 2008): 30.

[2] Sorrill, 31.

[3] All Scripture quotations in this paper, unless noted otherwise are from the The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2006).

 

Lottie Moon (A Biographical Sketch): From Pingtu to Eternity

Now undistracted by love interests and partially influenced by the Crawford doctrines, Lottie entered into a season of impatience.[1] She was increasingly familiar with the culture and frustrated at the progression of her work with the girls’ school. She began to feel pigeonholed into teaching seemingly ignorant children because of her gender.[2] Compounding the sense of missionary claustrophobia was the fact that T. P. Crawford was now trying to exert more and more control over the women at the mission. These issues converged on Miss Moon in such a way as to force her to a decision. She either would return to America or she would press inland to a more fruitful field. She chose for the gospel sake to press in land.[3]

In the fall of 1885, while Crawford was back in America to spread his wildly controversial views and opinions, Lottie set off for the interior. Without Crawford around to stop her and the unenthusiastic approval of her peers, she marched four days inland to Pingtu[4] Catherine Allen notes, “She was thought in her own times to be the first woman of any mission to establish an inland mission station by herself.”[5]

During this time, Moon’s identity was shifting. At times she would identify herself with the people of the interior as “we natives.”[6] She now lived a more itinerate and individualistic lifestyle, renting rooms in Pingtu and maintaining her residence in Tengchow.[7] When absent from the interior she would lament that her heart was in Pingtu.[8]

In the year 1887 she began to contemplate a furlough back to the United States.[9] Her plans were postponed however when three men from a village about ten miles outside of Pingtu knocked on her door searching out the “new doctrine” that Lottie was teaching.[10] Her normal practice was to teach only women and children, yet without any men to send, Lottie filled the role.[11]

This event was cataclysmic for Lottie. She delayed her furlough. She began making more urgent appeals to the Mission Board to send men to the mission field. While she was already active in encouraging women to form around the cause of missions and made appeals for special offerings, it was following this event that she suggested that Southern Baptist women set aside  a  week of prayer and offering for missions.[12] She wrote, “I wonder how many of us really believe that it is more blessed to give than receive.”[13] This first mission emphasis of its kind for Southern Baptists tied together an appeal for prayer, money, and missionaries.[14]

By October of 1889 a church had been established in the village outside of Pingtu and an ordained Baptist missionary baptized the first eleven members.[15] Twenty years later the church’s Chinese pastor, Li Shou Ting had baptized more than a thousand converts.[16] However the years in between and since were full of persecution and famine. [17]

The former mission sight was languishing in disarray as Crawford began rebuffing the mission board for not agreeing with his views. The FMB was in debt. Yet a great many more missionaries were needed for the work that Lottie Moon had started. She diligently wrote articles encouraging the SBC to send thirty more missionaries to North China.[18] It was harvest time in Northern China and SBC needed to send workers.

Even before this time Lottie had been diligent to keep up communication with the home front and had developed a large support network of women. Her articles were published in various publications and journals and fame of her work spread among the women of the SBC.

At the same time the women of the SBC were beginning to organize around the cause of missions. Though she would return to the United States a few times during her career, it was her writing more than her presence that helped fuel a movement that would lead to the organization of the Women’s Missionary Union and the creation of the Christmas time offering that bears her name.[19]

The last years of Lottie’s life were given in service to China. Near the end of her days in North China she would face war, famine, and persecution, yet she held strong. In 1912 a now elderly seventy-two-year-old Miss Moon was stricken with a mentally debilitating illness. An infection had set in at the base of her skull. For weeks she had been giving her food away to others in the midst of famine. She was becoming severely malnourished and was obsessed with the thought that fellow missionaries and her Chinese friends were starving. [20]

In a valiant attempt to restore her to health the missionaries on the field agreed to send Lottie back to America.  However, on December 24, 1912, Lottie Moon passed into eternity. News of Lottie Moon’s death spread rapidly among the now organized WMU and a call to honor Lottie through sacrificial giving was set in place.  Just six years after her death Annie Armstrong the former secretary of the WMU proposed that the annual Christmas Offering be named after Lottie Moon.[21]


[1] Allen, The Legacy of Lottie Moon, 149.

[2] Hyatt, 104.

[3] Ibid., 105-106.

[4] Allen, The Legacy of Lottie Moon, 149.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Hyatt, 110.

[7] Allen, The Legacy of Lottie Moon, 149.

[8] Hyatt, 110.

[9] Hefley, James C., and Marti. By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1996), 62.

[10] Hyatt, 111.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Hefley, 62.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Bobby Sorrill. “The History of the Week of Prayer for Foreign Missions” Baptist

History and Heritage 15, No. 4 (Oct. 1980): 29.

[15] Lawrence, 161.

[16] Tucker, 237.

[17] Miller, 37.

[18] Hyatt, 112-113.

[19] Tucker, 237-238.

[20] Allen, The Legacy of Lottie Moon, 151.

[21] Allen. The Legacy of Lottie Moon, 151.

Lottie Moon (A Biographical Sketch): From the Southern US to Northern China and Back Again

During the Civil war, Lottie lived a much quieter life than her famed cousin by the same name who was a spy for the confederacy.[1] Lottie spent a majority of war time tutoring in the rural South. She stayed on with wealthy families and tutored for a short time in Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia.[2] It is rumored that she may have helped her sister Orianna Moon in Charlottesville as a nurse to injured soldiers.[3] Near the end of the war, Lottie was back home at Viewmont. Catherine Allen writes about the tensions that filled the air during those days:

Raiders and rumors of raiders panicked the residents of Viewmont. Word came that nearby Darter’s Mill was in flames and that Viewmont would be next. The household spun into action. They loaded all food and clothing onto a wagon… Mrs. Moon gathered all the family silver and jewels. She thrust the treasures into Lottie’s trembling arms with orders to bury them in the orchard. Then the frightened family awaited their doom. But the raiders never came. The dust kicked up by a traveling heard of sheep caused a false alarm.[4]

After the War, Lottie was invited to help establish a school for girls in Danville, Kentucky. It was in Danville that Lottie would meet and befriend Miss A.C. Stafford, a Presbyterian. It was not long before the school came to a financial impasse due to handing out too many scholarships and was taken over and renamed by the Presbyterians.[5]

Soon a new opportunity presented itself in Carterville, Georgia for both Lottie and Miss Stafford to begin a new school for girls there. The women set to work and were surprisingly met with great success. Yet, just as things seemed to be progressing at the new school, Lottie’s’ mother fell sick and Lottie quickly returned home to Viewmont just in time for her mother’s passing.[6]

While back in Viewmont for her mother’s funeral, Lottie had a great deal of time for discussions with her younger sister Edmonia. Edmonia was contemplating missionary service in China.[7] Secretly Lottie and Edmonia had been supporting the mission work in China conducted by Mrs. Martha Foster Crawford, the wife of T. P. Crawford. Now it seemed that through correspondence and application that an opportunity opened up for Edmonia to go as a single woman missionary to China in an effort to reach Chinese women.[8]

January of 1873 Lottie Moon was in a private dialogue with the Foreign Mission Board Corresponding Secretary H. A. Tupper about the possibility of her appointment as a single female missionary. A month later, Lottie’s pastor at Cartersville, R. B. Headden, returned from an associational meeting anxious to preach a message calling for more workers on the foreign mission field.[9] When He shared the message with the Cartersville congregation there was a prayer in his heart that God might call at least one from among the congregation to volunteer service. To his surprise and amazement both Lottie Moon and her dear friends Mss A. C. Stafford responded to the call.[10] Miss Moon expressed, “I have long known God wanted me in China. I am now ready to go.”[11]

Charlotte Digges Moon was officially appointed by the Foreign Mission board on July 7, 1873. She began to make plans for her departure by visiting friends and family. Finally on September 1st of 1873, Lottie Moon set sail from San Francisco for China.[12]

The trip from China was eventful. Not far into the ocean voyage, Lottie was plagued with seasickness which lasted twenty-five days until the ship arrived in Japan. After a fair amount of time visiting in Japan, Lottie set out for Shanghai. However, shortly into the voyage the ship encountered a hurricane and only after the passengers and crew had resigned themselves to the prospect of a watery grave was the ship returned safely back into the Japanese harbor. Then when Lottie boarded another ship to take her to the missionary province another typhoon attempted to keep her from her destination. Finally, on October 25, nearly two months since she set out, Lottie Moon arrived in Tengchow.[13]

Lottie was excited to be reunited with her younger sister Edmonia. Edmonia had been in China for almost a year-and-a-half before Lottie arrived and had made quick progress with the language. Lottie, a language scholar, was a little slower to catch on, but still a quick learner. She soon mastered the local dialects.[14] Lottie soon progressed to reading Chinese literature and history, mastering the language better than most.[15]

Even before Lottie mastered the languages she began taking trips to the surrounding villages with Mrs. Crawford and Edmonia. Just a few short months after her arrival, with the aid of a Chinese woman, Lottie was working on her own. Initially she was met with opposition and was often called names like “foreign devil.” Eventually she learned the culture and was able to operate with a polite directness that earned her favor and credibility with the locals.[16]

Ever since Edmonia had arrived in China she had struggled with culture shock. The Crawford’s were unaccustomed to welcoming new missionary members to the team and there was no formal means of transitioning into missionary life. Edmonia was thrown into the mix to sink or swim and by 1876 it was apparent the Edmonia was sinking. Shortly after her arrival in China, she began to suffer a variety of illnesses. First, she was unable to travel with the other women and was confined to work in the mission compound. Then she was sent to Japan to see if a change of scenery would aid in her recovery. While in Japan it was apparent that she needed to go home to Viewmont and Lottie was quickly recalled from China to aid her sister. The Moon women arrived back in Viewmont on December 22, 1876 just in time for Christmas.[17]


[1] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 47.

[2] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 47.

[3] Lawrence. 52.

[4] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 49.

[5] Lawrence. 55-56.

[6] Ibid. 58-59.

[7] Lawrence, 61-62.

[8] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 63-65.

[9] Ibid. 68-69.

[10] Lawrence, 63.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 70-71.

[13] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 79-82.

[14] Ibid. 92-93.

[15] Lawrence, 78

[16] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 94-96.

[17] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 96-111.

Lottie Moon (A Biographical Sketch): Smarter Than the Average Southern Bell

ImageA year later Lottie was sent off to a boarding school entitled The Virginia Female Seminary at Botetourt Springs. The next year the school’s title would change to the Hollins Institute. Lottie excelled in language studies at the school and in spite of a few lesser marks in other subjects; she gained a reputation for being a studious intellectual.[1]

Young Lottie Moon also had a lighter side. Late in the evening on March 31, 1955, Lottie snuck into the attic of the dormitory and navigated the rafters to the bell tower.  She packed sheets and towels into the bell that was scheduled to ring out the daily regimen. The next day, April 1, 1955 the bell did not ring as scheduled and Lottie earned a place in school lore as an April fool’s day prankster.[2]

In 1857 the Albemarle Female Institute opened in Charlottesville as a Female counterpart to the University of Virginia. Lottie was one of the first students in attendance and joined the university structure with a request to major in languages. She excelled in learning Greek and Latin and took many courses in more modern languages as well.[3]

Lottie earned a reputation as a prankster and developed a disposition against Christianity. In December of 1858 John A. Broadus, the pastor of the Charlottesville Church, lead a revival directed at the students in the area. She initially showed up to see “what that old fool had to say.”[4] Yet engaged in a conversation with Broadus after the service and returned to her room to pray all night.[5] A group of students from the Albemarle Female Institute met early for prayer and prayed for Lottie’s salvation early in the morning. To everyone’s surprise Lottie showed up to the meeting. [6]

Lottie Moon made a public profession of faith on December 21, 1858 and was baptized the very next day. Lottie shared her testimony and stated that a barking dog had kept her up the night before. While she was lying there awake, her mind turned to considering the condition of her soul and she decided to give Christianity a fair investigation.[7]

Lottie continued to excel in her study of the languages. She became proficient in Greek, Latin, Italian, French and Spanish.[8] She stayed on one year after the required three years and ended up being one of the first women in the South to earn the equivalent of a MA degree. John Broadus noted that Lottie was “the most educated (or cultured) woman in the South.”[9] Lottie completed her degree just a few short weeks before the first shots of the Civil War were fired and life in the South would never be the same.[10]

More Tomorrow.


[1] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 23.

[2] Lawrence. 38.

[3] Ibid., 42-43.

[4] Sullivan, Chapter 1, Location 532. Kindle Electronic Edition.

[5] Lawrence. 45.

[6] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 35.

[7] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 35

[8] Ibid. 38-39.

[9] Ibid. 39.

[10] Sullivan, Chapter 1, Location 538. Kindle Electronic Edition.

Lottie Moon (A Biographical Sketch): Growing Up Lottie

Charlotte Digges Moon was born in 1840 to a wealthy and elite family of Albemarle county Virginia. She was born third in a family that would eventually come to have seven children.[1] Her childhood home was the Viewmont estate, a tobacco plantation within proximity to three presidential estates, Monticello, Montpelier, and Ashlawn.[2] Lottie’s maternal uncle had once purchased the Monticello estate, former home of Thomas Jefferson, in order to preserve it.[3]

The Moon household thrived on income from its vast land holdings that had been accumulated and developed since the middle of the eighteenth century. Lottie’s father was estimated to have had land holdings in the neighborhood of fifteen-hundred acres.[4] As a plantation in the pre-Civil War era, many of their cash crops like tobacco were processed by slave labor.[5]

During her younger years the commonwealth of Virginia was divided in religious turmoil. The Presbyterians and Baptists were divided on the issue of infant baptism. Lottie’s father, Edward Moon, who was a Presbyterian, became a Baptist when he was stirred to religious conviction while reading a pamphlet on pedo-baptism given to him by his presbyter.[6]  Catharine Allen notes that Lottie’s father became quite a devout Baptist in his leanings, “He became a deacon and a clerk, led in the establishment of a Sunday school, and often represented his church at Baptist association meetings”[7]

Lottie’s mother, Anna Moon, was also a staunch Baptist, even after Lottie’s father passed away.  Sullivan writes that Anna Moon was such a strong supporter of the Baptist church that she “housed the local minister in her home when there was no steady pastor available… she was instrumental in building a Baptist church in Scottsville…until a church was built, she lead regular Sunday church services in her home for neighbors, children, and slaves.”[8]

Other denominational issues would also plague the Moon household. Lottie’s maternal uncle, James Barclay warned Lottie’s mother and grandmother to stay away from revival services that came to nearby Scottsdale because of their Campbellite leanings. However, he later attended the services along with his wife and they found themselves joining with a new denomination called the “Disciples.” He would become an elder and builder of the church in Scottsdale. He would also serve as the Disicples first missionary.[9]

However, the dedication of her parents to the Baptist denomination and Christian faith did not seem to rub off on Lottie or the other Moon Children.  Catherine Allen writes, “Despite the parents’ best efforts, the acrimony of religious dispute left a bad impression on the children. They developed real hostility toward Christian matters and stayed home from church whenever possible.”[10] In the fall of 1852, Edward Moon grew sick and seemingly was within sight of death. He lamented to his pastor and friends within the hearing of his children that he was grieved that his two oldest children were grown and yet unconverted. Allen states, “The children gathered at bedside showed no remorse at this emotional plea.”[11]

Edward moon was cured of his sickness and in 1852 set off on a journey to buy cotton in New Orleans. On the way, however, the steamer caught fire forcing the passengers to flee. Edwards stayed behind struggling to pull a large piece of leather luggage that contained the funds he needed to make his purchases.[12] In the middle of his struggle he was struck with what is assumed to be a heart attack or stroke and died shortly thereafter on the bank of the Mississippi. The date was January 26, 1853 and young Lottie Moon “entered the critical teen years” without a father.[13]

(Stay tuned for More Tomorrow)


[1] Una R. Lawrence. Lottie Moon. (Nashville, Tenn.: Sunday School Board of the SBC, 1927),24-25.

[2] Tucker, Ruth. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: a Biographical History of Christian Missions. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1983), 234.

[3] Albert Mohler. “Forum on the Life and Legacy of Lottie Moon.” Lecture, Great Commission Week from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, October 21, 2009.

[4] Jerry Rankin and Don Rutledge. A Journey of Faith and Sacrifice: Retracing the Steps of Lottie Moon. (Birmingham, Ala.: New Hope, 1996), 25.

[5] Sullivan, Chapter 1, Location 259. Kindle Electronic Edition.

[6] Tom Nettles. “Lottie Moon Biography.” Lecture, from The Gospel Coalition. January 1, 2000.

[7] Catherine B Allen. The New Lottie Moon story. 2nd ed. (Birmingham, Ala.: Woman’s Missionary Union, 1997), 20.

[8] Sullivan, Chapter 1, Location 519-524. Kindle Electronic Edition.

[9] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 20-21.

[10] Ibid., 22.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Lawrence. 32-33.

[13] Allen. The New Lottie Moon Story, 23.

Lottie Moon (A Biographical Sketch): Introduction

Recently I have been researching and writing about Lottie Moon the famous Southern Baptist Missionary. I thought I would share some thoughts here this week. I will be posting once a day over the next five days (Monday – Friday) on the life and times of Lottie Moon. For those of you who may not know about Lottie Moon and her mission legacy, here is a brief introduction:

The name, Lottie Moon, is one familiar to most rank and file Southern Baptists church members.  Lottie Moon was a single female missionary commissioned by the Southern Baptist who served in China at the turn of the twentieth century.  Annually the Southern Baptist Convention receives a Christmas offering in her name to support the ongoing work of the International Missions Board. This offering is responsible for funding well over fifty percent of the work of the IMB and is estimated to be the largest offering of its kind.

While the offering is in and of itself noteworthy, the woman who inspired the offering is nothing short of amazing. Some have speculated that she is the closest thing that Southern Baptist’s have to a saint. Catherine B. Allen writes about the legacy of Miss Moon:

Like many other missionaries, Lottie Moon left a legacy that paved the way for succeeding generations. But unlike any other missionary, Miss Moon left a legacy that largely paid the way for the growth of the largest missionary force of any evangelical or Protestant denomination.[1]

Albert Mohler in a lecture series at Southern Seminary in 2008 noted, “It is one of the happiest things about an investigation of the life and missions legacy of Lottie Moon: The more you know, the more you come to understand that this woman represents far more than meets the eye, far more than the Southern Baptist memory can contain.”[2] Even at the time of her death, the Southern Baptist Missions Journal commented that she was, “The best man among our missionaries.”[3] Praise for Lottie Moon is not limited to those within the Southern Baptist denomination. Recently scholars have begun looking at Moons legacy from a feminist perspective and praise Moon for her bold spirit in blazing new trails for women, in a society domineered by men.


[1]  Catherine B. Allen. Allen, Catherine B. “The Legacy of Lottie Moon” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 17, No. 4 (Oct. 1993): 146.

[2] Albert Mohler. “Forum on the Life and Legacy of Lottie Moon.” Lecture, Great Commission Week from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, October 21, 2009.

[3] Miller, Kevin D. “Gritty Pioneers: Six Missionaries Whose Tenacity Changed China ”Christian History 15, No. 4: 36.