At the time of her death, one hundred years ago, she weighed only 50 pounds. But, at 4 feet and 3 inches tall, her frail body could not mask an incredible life. The fourth of seven children, from Virginia, she was a spirited and outspoken girl. Her father died in a riverboat accident when she was 13. Learning became her passion, becoming fluent in Latin, Greek, French, Italian, and Spanish. She was one of the first women to earn a Masters degree from a southern university.
One of her sisters became a physician and served as a doctor in the Civil War. Another sister went to China as a missionary. But Charlotte began a teaching career, opening an all-female high school in Georgia. Then the Lord got hold of Charlotte’s life, and in 1873, at the age of 33, she answered God’s call to join her sister in China.
For the next 40 years, Charlotte worked tirelessly to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ to the interior areas of China. She lived among the people, learned their language, dressed liked them, ate their food, and adopted their culture. Many came to Christ through her ministry. Realizing the tremendous harvest, Charlotte wrote letters back home, pleading with churches to send more missionaries.
Charlotte never married. She remained devoted to the Lord till death, serving Him faithfully in China and, through her writings, around the world. Her full name was Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon. Because of her pleas, Southern Baptist collected its first mission offering in 1888 of $3,315, enough to send 3 new missionaries to China.
Today, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering finances more than half of the International Mission Board’s entire budget (the other half coming primarily from the Cooperative Program of Southern Baptist churches). Our goal this year is 175 million. Giving for each of the past 3 years has been about 147 million. Last year Southern Baptist missionaries reported 334,000 baptisms and 29,000 new churches. Yet, there remain 3,257 people-groups in the world (out of 11,424 identified) that have no missionaries, no Christian witness.
These past weeks, I have had the joy of sharing in churches about the many lives dramatically changed by God because you have given me the privilege of living among the Ilonggo people-group in central Philippines. But my heart aches for the many lives that remain in desperate hopelessness because no one is there to tell them about the God/man from Galilee who is in the hope-giving business.
So this year, when the offering plate comes around, would you remember the millions of faces of those who are hurting, needy, lost, and waiting.