Though I grew up in the Presbyterian church, during college I attended a Southern Baptist church where I first learned about an extraordinary Southern woman named Lottie Moon. Born into a wealthy Virginia family in 1840, Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon, one of a family of 5 girls and 2 boys, grew up on her family’s 1500 acre tobacco plantation in Albemarle County. At age 14, she enrolled in the Virginia Female Seminary where she excelled in languages, mastering Latin, Greek, Italian, and Spanish.
A revival meeting held on her college campus, led by John Broadus, brought Lottie to her faith and to the conviction that she should go abroad as a missionary. In 1873, after earning a master’s degree in Languages, Lottie followed her younger sister Edmonia to the mission field in China. Assigned to teach in a boys’ school, Lottie begged her sponsors to allow her to go into the field and evangelize. She left teaching and immersed herself in the Chinese culture while bringing the Christian gospel to the people. Facing revolutions, wars, plagues and famine, Lottie wrote impassioned letters to the Foreign Missions Journal, proposing that churches set aside the week before Christmas as a time of giving to foreign missions. The Southern Baptist women established the Women’s Missionary Union to aid in Lottie’s work.
In 1912, Lottie’s friends noticed that her weight had dropped to fifty pounds and urged her to return home to rest. But she died in port in China on Christmas Eve and was cremated. Her remains were returned to her family.
By some accounts Lottie Moon was only 4 feet, three inches tall, but her spirit and her commitment to faith in action made her a giant among women. Growing up in a time when opportunities for women were limited, Lottie persevered to achieve her life’s calling. Since 1888, the Lottie Moon fund has contributed more than a billion dollars to missions around the world. No wonder Lottie has been immortalized in church windows like the one shown here.
Lottie is one of my favorite real-life Southern heroines. I’d love to learn about yours. Leave a comment and share her story.