Lottie Moon, the namesake of the International Mission Board offering, has become something of a legend to us. But in her time Lottie was anything but an untouchable hero. In fact, she was like today's missionaries. She was a hard-working, deep-loving Southern Baptist who labored tirelessly so her people group could know Jesus.
When she set sail for China, Lottie was 32 years old. She had turned down a marriage proposal and left her job, home and family to follow God's lead. Her path wasn't typical for an educated woman from a wealthy Southern family. But Lottie did not serve a typical God. He had gripped her with the Chinese peoples' need for a Savior.
For 39 years Lottie labored, chiefly in Tengchow and P'ingtu. People feared and rejected her, but she refused to leave. The aroma of fresh baked cookies drew people to her house. She adopted traditonal Chinese dress, and she learned China's language and customs. Lottie didn't just serve the people of China; she identified with them. Many eventually accepted her. And some accepted her Savior.
Lottie's vision wasn't just for the people of China. It reached to her fellow Souther Baptists in the United States. Like today's missionaries, she wrote letters home, detailing China's hunger for truth and the struggle of so few missionaries sharing the Gospel with so many peole, 472 million Chinese in her day. She shared another timely message, too: the urgent need for more workers and for Southern Baptist passionately supporting them through prayer and giving.
She once wrote home to the Foreign Mission Board, "Please say to the (new) missionaries they are coming to a life of hardship, responsibility and constant self denial."
Disease, turmoil and lack of co-workers threatened to undo Lottie's work. But she gave herself completely to God, helping lay the foundation of what would become the modern Chinese church, one of the fastest-growing Chistian movements in the world. Lottied Moon died at 72, ill and in declining health after she had made sacrifies for decades for her beloved Chinese.
But her legacy lives on. And today, when gifts aren't growing as quickly as the number of workers God is calling to the field, her call for sacrificial giving rings with more urgency than ever.