Lottie Moon, missionary to China from 1873 to her death in 1912, is the most famous person in Southern Baptist history. Our largest offering, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, is named for her.
In time, her life came to be mythologized by Southern Baptists and her name invoked in order to raise money for missions. To counter this, here are ten things you probably did not know about Lottie Moon:
1. When funding from the Foreign Mission Board was not sufficient to provide additional workers for Moon’s lonely and arduous mission in Pingtu, China, Lottie loaned the Board $1,000 to help support a new missionary. The sum is equivalent to about $25,000 today.
2. Moon’s home in the seaport city of Tengchow was once hit by a shell from a Japanese warship. Moon was not home at the time. The bombardment was part of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905.
3. At the 1890 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Ft. Worth, Texas, it was said Lottie Moon: “She is the greatest man among our missionaries.”
4. The Christmas offering later named for Lottie Moon was an idea copied from the Methodists.
5. Miss Moon was the first single female missionary woman sent out by the SBC Foreign Mission Board. No, not Lottie but her sister Edmonia (Eddie) who was one two single ladies appointed in April, 1872. Lottie followed soon thereafter in 1873. Eddie was often sick and left China for good in 1876.
6. Lottie Moon’s uncle once owned Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, post Jefferson, of course.
7. When Moon arrived in China in 1873, she found that there was serious personal conflict among missionaries in the mission. This would cause difficulty for decades. She had to contend with and endure this constantly; whereas, the wars, famines, and plagues were just sporadic.
8. Among other things, Lottie endured at least two outbreaks of bubonic plague. She would simply close the school she was operating at the time and wait for the plague to pass.
9. When a new missionary asked Lottie in 1909 what the secret was to her long success in China (she had been in the country for 36 years at that point), Lottie answered, “Early to bed and do not worry.”
10. Lottie died while on a ship in a Japanese harbor. The ship’s captain was concerned that an embalmed body would not be allowed entry into the United States so she was cremated.
These are from “Lottie Moon: A Southern Baptist Missionary to China in History and Legend” by Regina D. Sullivan.
The photo of Lottie Moon is from the WMU. Although some others had done so, Lottie was among the first to dress and live in the custom of the Chinese.