December 8th, 1963 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-8-63 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message on the life and story of a great, noble, worthy woman missionary. At this season of the year, wherever in the earth there is a Southern Baptist church, there is also a week of prayer for foreign missions and a Christmas offering dedicated to our Lord in memory of and in honor of a noble woman missionary by the name of Lottie Moon. On the marquee in front of our church, early each Monday morning, there are placed the names of the subjects of the pastor’s messages for the following Sunday.
And some people seeing that announcement on the board across the sidewalk in front of our church on Ervay street, asked me, “Who is Lottie Moon? That’s the title of your subject: Lottie Moon. Who is Lottie Moon?” To my surprise and disappointment, I have discovered it has been beyond fifteen years since I spoke on the life of this great missionary. I have promised myself and our Lord to do better, if God gives me length of days, in the future. There is a whole generation of young people, teenagers, who have never heard a message from this pulpit on the life and ministry of that tremendous missionary. So today the message is for foreign missions; the evangelization of the world; the preaching of the gospel of Christ beyond our shores as it is dedicated to the memory in our Lord of this great representative of Christ.
You will find that one of the unusual—though to us we are not sensitive to it—one of the unusual characteristics of the Christian faith is the part made for and played in it by the women. If you were a Muslim, there would be no woman in the congregation this morning. If you belonged to some of those mystery religions that almost swept the Roman Empire and almost destroyed the Christian faith, if you were conversant with some of those mystery religions, you would find there was no woman allowed in it. But from the beginning, our Lord was ministered to by faithful women.
In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul writing to the church at the capital city of the Roman Empire, said, “I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, a servant,” a deaconess it is in Greek, “a servant of the church; for she hath been a helper of many. And Priscilla, and Priscilla, for whom not only I give thanks, but all the churches of the Gentiles” [Romans 16:1-4]. Here in one breath Paul names two noble Christian women: Phoebe and Priscilla. So through the years in the kingdom of Christ and in the building up of His churches, our women have had a distinct, a leading and effective part.
I was in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, one of the great states of Brazil. We have in the heart of that city a wonderful educational institution. Children are taught there, high school teenagers are taught there, college students are taught there, seminary students are taught there. It is a wonderful, God-blessed educational missionary complex.
The leader of it when I was there was a lawyer by the name of Alfredo Menezes. He was a handsome man, a brilliant man, an eloquent man; but a lawyer. That interested me. I would have expected a pastor, a preacher, a theologian to be the head of that great missionary school; but he’s a lawyer. Well, I asked how it is he became a Christian and a Baptist and the head of the school.
And the answer was this: a missionary in Brazil, in Recife, had translated the life of Lottie Moon into Portuguese; there was in the city of Recife a brilliant orator by the name of Alfredo Menezes, who was eloquent in his use of the Portuguese language. So the missionary brought the manuscript to the lawyer and asked him to polish the phrase and the sentence and the paragraph into beautiful Portuguese. The lawyer accepted the invitation. He read the life of Lottie Moon. He became a Christian. He accepted our Lord reading the life of the great missionary and became head of that school. Is he still the head of the school? Yes. I haven’t inquired in recent days, but that brilliant man, so eloquent, so fine looking made an impression upon me that lasts to this present day.
She died Christmas Eve in 1912 in a ship riding at anchor in Kobe, Japan. Kobe is a city, as with so many of the cities in Japan, built on the side of a mountain that rises out of the sea. And as you go up the side of the mountain, up there is a missionary’s home. And I was a guest in the missionary’s home. I wanted to be left alone for a while, as I sat there and looked out over the beautiful harbor of Kobe. And I just reviewed in my mind the life of this great, godly emissary of Jesus. Could I review it for you, as I did there in Kobe, looking out over the spacious harbor of blue water below me?
She was born in 1840, in Albemarle County, in the heart of Virginia, not very far from Monticello, the home of Jefferson Davis . . . Thomas Jefferson—I’m a good Confederate still, I tell you—the home of Thomas Jefferson. She was born into an affluent, aristocratic Virginia family. The county seat of Albemarle County is Charlottesville, where Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. And in that day, so long ago, the school for girls, which was a new development then, a school for girls had been founded in Charlottesville. This affluent family sent their daughter, Lottie Charlotte Moon, to the school in Charlottesville.
There was a teacher there by the name of John A. Broadus. He was also the pastor of the Baptist church. Dr. John A. Broadus was the most gifted scholar our Southern Baptist people have ever produced. He later became president of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Broadus, in 1859, won this gifted, brilliant young girl to the saving faith we know in our blessed Lord Jesus, and he baptized her into the fellowship of the Baptist church at Charlottesville, Virginia.
She became a teacher and was with Miss Safford, the two of them, teachers in a girls school founded in Cartersville, Georgia. In February of 1873, the pastor of the church in Cartersville, Georgia, Dr. R. B. Heddon, attended a Baptist association, at which a flaming missionary sermon was preached. And when the message was delivered, Dr. Heddon stood up and proposed a covenant of prayer in behalf of all the deacons and pastors there, and the following Sunday that each preacher deliver a missionary sermon in his church and make an appeal for Christ and the foreign field. Dr. Heddon stood in his pulpit the following Sunday and preached on the text, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields: they are white unto the harvest” [John 4:35]. “Pray ye the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers” [Matthew 9:38]. And when he preached his sermon and gave the appeal, to the amazement of the citizens of Cartersville, their two teachers in the girls school walked down the aisle, Miss Moon and Miss Safford, and gave themselves to God to be missionaries in China.
Christmas that year of 1873, she began her work in Shan Tung, a province of north China, in Ting Chou, an ancient Chinese city with a wall around it; and for forty years, in Ting Chou, as a teacher, and in Ping Tu, an area about a hundred fifteen miles away, as an evangelist, in which field our Southern Baptist people reap our greatest harvest of souls in evangelism; in those two fields she devoted her life for forty years.
There is a devotion in this missionary, Lottie Moon, that has moved my heart to gratitude, to admiration for these years since I first was introduced to her life. She lived, she died, a single woman, alone. She was never married. Why? When she was in school in Charlottesville, there was a brilliant young student and professor who fell in love with her, and her heart responded to him. When she went away to be a missionary to the Orient, she continued to write to him and he to her. And they set a wedding date. And Miss Lottie Moon wrote to her family: she was returning to America to be married, after which both of them would return to the Orient, and either in Japan or in China, live their lives as a missionary couple.
This young man was, I suppose, the most brilliant, the most scholarly intellectual of all of the young men of his generation. As a young man he was invited to be professor of Hebrew on the faculty of our oldest seminary, the Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In his education he went to Germany; and in Germany he was introduced to German rationalism and German higher criticism. That is a study of the authenticity of the books in the Word of God. And as you would know by the characterization of German rationalism, it looks upon the Bible as anyone would look upon any other antique document: no more of God than Homer; and the stories told in the Bible, no more likely to have happened than the stories of Greek mythology, Jason and the Golden Fleece, the exploits of Agamemnon, or Pericles, or Paris and Achilles of the war in Troy; that’s German rationalism. And this young man opened his heart to that repudiation of the Word of God; and he began to teach it in the seminary, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky.
Dr. James P. Boyce, who was president of the seminary, Dr. John A. Broadus, who succeeded him, those two men talked to the brilliant young professor, “You cannot teach in our seminary believing that the stories in the Old Testament are myths and legends and spiritual parables.” What a far cry from the day when God blessed our Southern Baptist people, and this day, when He is beginning to take away His favor. “You cannot teach,” said Dr. Boyce and Dr. Broadus, “You cannot teach in this Baptist seminary and believe that the Word of God is myth and legend and parable, with no substance in reality; that there’s no Adam and Eve, that there was no garden of Eden, that the laws of Moses in his books are concoctions by a list of unknown authors that they documentize until it becomes a foolish fragment,” on and on.
Dr. Broadus, Dr. Boyce accompanied this brilliant professor, Crawford H. Toy—if you are a theologian, the author of the book on Proverbs, in the International Critical Commentary—they accompanied Dr. Toy to the railroad station in Louisville. Dr. Boyce put his arm around him, and raising his right hand to heaven, said, “Crawford, I would give this right arm if you were as you were when you came to us at the Southern Seminary here in Louisville.” He left, he became a professor of Hebrew at the Unitarian Harvard Divinity School, the Harvard Divinity School that the Unitarians captured. He joined the Unitarian church. Finally he didn’t bother to go to church at all. That’s the man.
Lottie Moon and Dr. Crawford H. Toy set a date to be married. But in those days, as the letters crossed the Pacific Ocean, she learned of Dr. Toy’s German rational acceptance; the repudiation of the Word of God. And in her missionary life, she had come to feed upon the Holy Scriptures, to believe in them as veritably the inspired message of the living Lord. And finding the repudiation of the Holy Scriptures by the brilliant young professor Dr. Toy, she wrote him and said, “I cannot find it in my heart to marry someone to whom the Bible is not the Word of God.”
She broke off the engagement. She lived her life, forty years a missionary, alone. One time wrote, when she drew out of her bank the last savings she had to buy bread for starving Chinese, she wrote across the little book of deposit, “I pray that no missionary shall ever be as lonely as I.” I salute the memory of Lottie Moon.
I would predict that our Baptist people would grow in power, in numbers, in effectiveness as we have grown since the days of that glorious woman; did we stay as true to the Word of God, as did she? But that awful dry rot and disintegration of rationalism enters us, and enters us, and enters us, and enters us, and saps our life, and saps our strength, and destroys our zeal and our fervor; and soon we shall become, barring the intervention of God, as any other of those rational unbelievers: without power with God or with men. I salute in admiration beyond what I could say in syllable or in sentence the devotion to the Book, to the Word, to the Scriptures of the great missionary Lottie Moon.
Those things are not known. It was not because of that of course that she became the name in which this great appeal for Christ beyond the sea is made. This is named for her because of her life of appeal. For example, she would write back to the states, write back to the states, “Oh, that the church, the individual church would send out missionaries, missionaries, missionaries.” There’s nobody going to listen to me, there’s no need to say it, but I’m going to say it anyway for my own soul’s good: if you were to take the missionary enterprise back to the churches, you would find thousands, and thousands, and thousands, and thousands of your young people out on the foreign field.
We support an impersonal program. It’s in the budget, and we support the budget. And our whole effort is impersonally represented there in the budget! What if you had forty young people from the First Baptist Church of Dallas out in the foreign field? What if you had all of our doctors and all of our dentists taking their vacations down to help them? What if you assigned to our church, say, Guatemala? We have two, maybe three Southern Baptist missionaries for the whole nation of Guatemala. What if you assigned Guatemala to the First Baptist Church in Dallas, this one church? I don’t know how many we could send down there, and our people learn the missionary life and appeal and intercession and all that it takes to pour into that effort a personal heart’s interest.
And our churches all over this nation that could do what the First Church of Dallas could do, and if one church couldn’t do it, two could do it; and if two churches couldn’t do it, then three could; and if three couldn’t do it, then four could bind themselves together to do it. Their missions would live. It’d be my son, it’d be my daughter, it’d be my Sunday school pupil, it’d be my RA boy, it’d be my GA girl, it’d be our YWA young people, it’d be us, it’d be you. I’m just saying what Lottie Moon said. She made appeal to the churches to send out missionaries and support them. Thrill my soul to get into the missionary business across the sea, just as we’re in the missionary business here at home in this city. I’d love to do it.
Now that’s just I. This is just I saying these things. Lottie Moon said them. Another thing, I say her life was one of appeal. In the years before 1888, she made appeal that the women of the southland organize themselves and support the foreign mission endeavor. The Southern Baptist Convention met in May, 1888, in Virginia, in Richmond; and at that session of the convention, they organized Woman’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention, to support the missionary cause in the earth.
Lottie Moon’s appeal again: that the women at Christmas time make an appeal for Christ and take the money and send out missionary helpers, so desperately needed across the seas. They listened to her appeal, and that Christmas, 1888, Lottie Moon saw the first Christmas offering, with its goal of two thousand dollars, taken up by the women of the South. They got three thousand dollars, enough for two missionaries, and sent them out to China, to help Lottie Moon in the work of the gospel of the Son of God. That’s why you have Woman’s Missionary Union. That’s why we have the Christmas offering, in appeal to the earnest entreaties of this missionary in Ting Chou, Miss Charlotte Moon.
Despite the efforts of WMU and men and churches, in the years of 1910, 1911, finally 1912, our people gave less, and less, and less, and less. Oh! You don’t have to stand someday at the judgment bar of Almighty God and hear read to us why these things happen in history. All you have to do is to open your heart, and make it sensitive to the call and message of Jesus, and everything that happens in history today is an open book.
In the days, in the days, in the years of Lottie Moon, had there been a response on the part of our people, had our sons and daughters been God’s emissaries, had our gifts, our tithes, and our offerings supported the work, China, China would have been today a Christian nation. It fell into the hands of blood red atheism; a pronounced government of the repudiation of God, because, because God’s people, God’s people have been unfaithful in delivering the message of Christ in the earth. And we’re getting ready to live through the same reiterated, repeated travesty and tragedy!
When MacArthur entered Japan, he said, “Send me a thousand missionaries”; and he took money by his own mandate, he took money and had Bibles sent to Japan by the millions, and they were distributed out by the chaplains of the conquering army. And the Japanese, instead of fearing and cringing before the conquering Americans, found those men with Bibles in their hands, their pockets full of chewing gum and candy for the kids. When I was in Japan in that preaching mission, I think I never spoke but that there were a hundred fifty to three hundred fifty who gave their lives to Christ, accepting Jesus as Savior.
Did you know, did you know that in all Christendom we have never sent for the evangelization of Japan an amount of money equal to the cost of one battleship sunk on the attack at Pearl Harbor? I must turn aside from these things. I am just repeating to you, you will not have to wait till you stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God to find why history is turned as it has. You can read it plain and simple in the dereliction of God’s people in the earth.
So in 1910, 1911, 1912, the foreign mission board had less and less and less. People gave practically nothing. And in order to support the work already launched, the board went in debt, went in debt, supporting the missionaries already sent out; went in debt, went in debt. At that time there was a great famine that swept through China, and finally to Ping Tu, where Lottie Moon had spent so much of her life and where God had given us our greatest harvest in evangelism. And the Ping Tu Christians began to starve by the scores and by the hundreds and by the thousands.
And then the word: there is nothing from America to help. And not only was there nothing from America to help, but her own life supported by borrowed money; people not even giving enough to support the missionary herself. She was nearing seventy-two years of age. The strangest illness overtook her, the strangest illness. When finally a doctor was summoned, and could come, he looked at her, and in a moment said, “Why, she is starving, starving.” If her Ping Tu Christians were starving, she would not eat. And if the board of the Southern Baptist Convention would not pay her living, she refused to live on borrowed money. She had given her entire salary. She had taken out all of her savings. She was starving.
They made a decision to send her back home to America. Miss Cynthia Miller, a nurse, had a furlough due; so the two were put on a ship at Shanghai. It rode at anchor there at Kobe, Japan, on the blue waters of the western Pacific. And there in the ship, Miss Cynthia saw her speak and her hands clasp and unclasp in Chinese fashion, in Chinese greeting, bent low her ear to hear: the missionary was greeting old Chinese friends who for years before, years before had gone to be with the Lord. You reckon God’s people see like that when they die?
In preparing my sermon tonight on angels, The Angels of Heaven, I came across in my studying so many instances where godly people, godly people would say, “What? You cannot see the angel standing at the foot of my bed? Look, look. I hear the angel choir. I see, I see the host of heaven.” Are they out of their minds, these godly people? Or do they see? Well, that was Lottie Moon: greeting old Chinese friends, who in the years and the years and the years had gone away, had gone away to be with the Lord.
All I know is this. I wish I could die seeing angels, and looking into the courts of glory; to die triumphantly, victoriously, with a smile on my face and a greeting on my lips, dying as a victor, a more than conqueror in Christ [Romans 8:37]. I must close.
The law of Japan is one of cremation. They cremated her body, brought it back to Virginia, buried there in Albemarle County where she grew up as a girl; dedicated to her in the providence of God this appeal for foreign missions. And at this season of the year, if you find it in your heart to put Christ in Christmas, either in the name of our Lord helping support the orphan children in the Buckner home, or giving to our Lord a special remembrance for the poor, or any mission, or if you would like to join the women of our convention and dedicate that special gift for the evangelization of the peoples to whom yet we have opportunity to preach the gospel of the Son of God, you are invited, urged: do it. Do it. God bless the effort, God bless our people, God bless this church as we pray through what God would have us to do and answer with our lives.
While we sing our song of invitation and appeal, you, does the Lord speak to your heart, does He, does He? “Pastor, I give you my hand; I have given my heart to God. I do take the Lord Jesus as my Savior, and here I stand, and here I come.” Would you this morning, would you? A family to put their lives in the fellowship of the church, “Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children; we’re all coming this morning.” What a glorious time to respond. In the throng in the balcony round, in this lower floor, into the aisle, down to the front, “Here we come, pastor, here we are; God take us, God have us. Here we are.” Come, come, while we stand and while we sing.