Miss Lottie Moon

Miss Lottie Moon

December 3rd, 1978 @ 10:50 AM

Romans 16:1-5

I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Romans 16:1-5

12-03-78    10:50 a.m.


It is a gladness to welcome the uncounted thousands of you who are sharing this hour on television and on radio.  This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas bringing the message entitled Miss Lottie Moon.  This is the season of the year when all the churches of our Southern Baptist Zion, numbering about thirty-six thousand in a communion of something like thirteen million people, are observing a week of prayer, have observed a week of prayer, this is the last Sunday of it.  And in keeping with that week which is named the Lottie Moon Week of Prayer, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions, I am delivering this address on that world famed and God blessed in memory missionary of our Southern Baptist people to China.

“I commend unto you Phoebe,” writes the apostle Paul in this salutation that closes the Book of Romans, “Phoebe our sister, who is a servant,” a deaconess, the Greek says, “of the church which is at Cenchrea” [Romans 16:1]; he is writing from Corinth, and right down there on the lower part of the isthmus is this port city of Cenchrea:

That you receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succorer of many, and of myself also.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila—

he names her first—

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus:

Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

[Romans 16:2-5] 

So we have two noble women mentioned here in this brief text: Phoebe, described as a deaconess at the church at Cenchrea; and Priscilla, who with her husband, took the brilliant Alexandrian Apollos and instructed him in the way of the Lord [Acts 18:26].  We shall speak therefore, in keeping with this Holy Scripture, of a modern Priscilla, a modern Phoebe [Romans 16:1-4].

Being in Kobe, Japan, in a mission home, high on the side of the mountain that sweeps down to the harbor of Kobe, being in the missionary’s home, I asked if I could be left alone for just a while.  So I seated myself on the front porch of the missionary’s home and thought through the life of Lottie Moon.  In that harbor just below me, in a ship called Manchuria, she had died in that ship, riding at anchor; she had died Christmas Eve in 1912.  And being left alone, I thought through her life.  Briefly, in summary, it is this.

She was born in 1840 in a beautiful southern estate in Albemarle County in the heart of Virginia.  She was born in a well-to-do aristocratic old southern home.  Her mother’s brother, for example, bought Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson; and it was close by the beautiful home where this girl was born and lived. In 1859, when she was nineteen years of age, attending a girl’s school in Charlottesville, Virginia— Charlottesville is the county seat of Albemarle County, and the location of the University of Virginia—attending a girl’s school in Charlottesville, Virginia, she was won to Christ by the pastor of the First Baptist Church there, who also was a professor in the university.  His name was John A. Broadus, doubtless the greatest scholar that our Southern Baptist people has ever produced.  Dr. Broadus, Dr. James Petigru Boyce, Dr. William Williams, and Basil Manley were the four men who founded the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina, removing it later to Louisville, Kentucky, where it lives and thrives today.  This girl, nineteen years of age then, was won to the Lord by John A. Broadus, and was baptized into the fellowship of the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 1873, she and Miss [Anna] Safford are teachers in a girls’ school in Cartersville, Georgia.  There was at that time an illustrious and gifted pastor of the First Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia by the name of Dr. R. B. Headden.  Attending an associational meeting, the ministers in the Baptist churches of the association made a covenant with each other that the following Sunday they would preach on foreign missions and make an appeal for volunteers to go to the foreign field.  In February of 1873, Dr. Headden delivered that message.  And when he had finished his sermon and made his appeal, there came forward those two teachers in the girls’ school in Cartersville, Georgia, Miss Lottie Moon and Miss Safford, giving their lives as volunteers to go to the foreign mission field.

In the summer of 1873, Miss Lottie Moon was appointed by the Foreign Mission Board to China.  And that Christmas of 1873 she came to the ancient walled city of China named Tengchow, in the Shandong province of northern China.  And there she ministered as a missionary of our Foreign Mission Board for forty years.  In that long ministry in Tengchow, in Shandong province in northern China, about a hundred fifteen miles away is a town called P’ing-tu.  And carrying on her work as a teacher in the school, our Baptist school in Tengchow, she also did the work of an itinerate missionary in all of that region around P’ing-tu.  Something like two million Chinese there, and she the only white person they had ever seen.  And through her efforts, there came from God a wonderful revival meeting in that P’ing-tu area.  Churches were established, and thousands were won to the Lord.  She became a kind of institution in Tengchow, directing and preparing the missionaries for their work as they came to China.

In about 1911, there came a tragic famine in that part of China.  And the P’ing-tu Christians suffered greatly, many of them dying of starvation.  The appeal of Lottie Moon to America for help went unheeded; no money, no support came for those starving Christians.  At that time also the Southern Baptist Convention of churches so poorly supported the Foreign Mission Board that it was in debt, and increasingly in debt.  And her salary paid to the bank in Shanghai was borrowed money.  And the burden of it all so weighed upon her that apparently her mind began to break.  And she refused to live on borrowed money.  If the Southern Baptist Convention did not care enough about its foreign mission work even to support their missionaries, she refused to live on borrowed money.  So she took all of her salary and gave it to the P’ing-tu Christians.  Then if they were starving to death, she would not eat.  And she was slowly starving to death, giving everything she had to the P’ing-tu Christians.

As the days passed, of course, her life began to wane, not eating.  And the fellow missionaries could not understand why her life was ebbing away.  When the doctor was called, he immediately saw what was troubling and directed that she be sent home to America.  A missionary nurse by the name of Cynthia Miller, a Texas girl, was sent home with her.  They boarded the ship, the Manchuria, in Shanghai.  It stopped in the port of Kobe.  And on Christmas Eve in 1912, in one of the most dramatic stories of a translation I’ve ever read, she died in a state room in the ship at bay in Kobe.  It was like this: she lay there unconscious for a long time, and then opened her eyes and began to seek, see, search for someone.  And then began to speak and to clasp and to unclasp her hands in a Chinese greeting, and began to call the names of P’ing-tu Christians, and Tengchow Christians who had been dead for years and years and years.  And while she was greeting them in Chinese fashion, calling their names, she was translated to heaven.  I’ve thought of that, as I did then on that mountainside looking down into Kobe bay.  I have thought of that.

Do you suppose before we’re translated that God sometimes opens heaven and we see these whom we have loved and lost for just a while?  That was her welcome into heaven, as in Chinese fashion she greeted the dear friends she had won to Christ in P’ing-tu and in Tengchow.  Do you suppose there’ll be somebody there who will greet us when time comes for our translation?  I pray so.  What a tragedy, to go to heaven empty handed, and no one to greet us, saying, “I’m here because of your praying, and your loving, and your testimony.”  Well, just briefly that is the life of Lottie Moon.

Now, the reason that her life so impresses me—and this seems almost sacrilegious to say it because the devotion of that marvelous Virginia girl to the Lord is almost beyond anything that you could ever read outside of the Holy Scriptures itself—yet the reason that her life so vastly and deeply appeals to me is in an altogether different world.  First of all I want you to see what kind of a woman she was.  She had an astute sense of the political situation in the world.  Now I want you to look at this.  This is written in the middle of the last century, but you look at this and compare it with the political situation we see today.  She said in a letter written home, “To my thinking, Russia is the most formidable power that China has yet been brought into contact.”  What do you think of that?  “And yet she turns from Japan, her natural ally, to cast herself in the arms of Russia.”  A thing that China just got through doing and now is turning and seeing the bitter and awesome mistake that she made.  And Lottie Moon points that out in the last century.  “I believe China will rue the day when she cast herself into the arms of Russia, when it is too late.”  Then she speaks of some of her reasons why.  She thinks that China ought to be friends with Japan, and she would pray for that, she says, “Because Japan is very friendly and liberal toward Protestant Christianity.”  Now isn’t that a remarkable thing?  It’s just like a prophecy a hundred years in advance.

All right, again, the astuteness of this marvelous woman: she is making an appeal in 1887 in our Foreign Mission Journal for the organization of a Southern Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union.  And, let me come to the end of it first: the appeal was heeded, and our Baptist women gather in Richmond in 1888 and organize this WMU, Woman’s Missionary Union; and to that organization one of our members was a messenger.  Mrs. Minnie Slaughter Veal, for whom our Veal Building is named, she was a messenger from our church to this organizational meeting in 1888, in Richmond, Virginia, that brought to birth the Southwide WMU.  Now, in 1887, Lottie Moon writes from China an article published in the Foreign Mission Journal, and I quote it.  She says:

I am convinced that one of the chief reasons our Southern Baptist women do so little is the lack of organization.  The world is the field, and woman’s work for Christ is wherever there is a home to be reformed or a soul to be redeemed.  Until the women of our Southern Baptist churches are thoroughly aroused, we shall continue to go on in our present hand to mouth system.  We shall continue to see mission stations so poorly manned that missionaries break down from overwork, loneliness, and isolation.  We shall continue to see promising fields unentered and old stations languishing—

she continues—

I wonder how many of us really believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  A woman who accepts that statement of the Lord Jesus Christ as a fact and not as impractical liberalism, impractical idealism, will make giving a principle in her life.  She will lay aside sacredly not less than one tenth of her income or her earnings as the Lord’s money, which she would no more dare touch for personal use than she would steal.  How many are there among our women, alas, alas, who imagine that because Jesus paid it all, they need pay nothing, forgetting that the prime object of their salvation was that they should follow in the footsteps of Jesus in bringing back a lost world to God, and so aid in bringing the answer to the petition our Lord taught His disciples, ‘Thy kingdom come.’

Now, she made one other appeal in that same article.  In that same article, she suggested that Southern Baptist women institute a week of prayer and offering, and that this be the week before Christmas.  Now here are her exact words, I quote:

Need it be said why the week before Christmas is chosen?  Is not the festive season, when families and friends exchange gifts in memory of the gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race, the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from both abounding riches and scant poverty, to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth?

Now in keeping with that appeal in that article in 1887, as I told you, in 1888, the messengers from over the churches of Baptist women gathered in Richmond, organized Woman’s Missionary Union, and set the following Christmas, the week before Christmas, in 1888, they set the following Christmas for the first offering for Foreign Missions.  Their goal was $2,000.  And to their great amazement, they raised $3,200; enough to send out two missionaries.  Inflation’s kind of done something for us today, hasn’t it?  Imagine sending out two missionaries today for $3,200!  But God blessed that first offering.  And from that day until this, at Christmas time, this offering has been made, sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union.

All right, number three; I’ve just spoken why I am deeply impressed by the life of this noble missionary.  Number one; her political astuteness astonishes me when I read it.  Number two; it was her genius that gave birth to the organization of Woman’s Missionary Union and the offering at Christmas time supporting our foreign mission enterprise.  Now the one that impresses me beyond anything that I could say, while she was a girl, a young woman in Charlottesville, Virginia, in her school there was a brilliant young teacher.  His name was Dr. Crawford H. Toy—Crawford Howell Toy.  He was, I suppose, the most brilliant man that Southern Baptists has ever produced.  And this young fellow, a professor in the school in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Lottie Moon was a student, he fell in love with her and she kind of fell in love with him.

As the days passed and the years passed, she is now a missionary in Tengchow in China; and he is a brilliant professor of Hebrew in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  And in those days when she was in China and he was in Louisville, writing back and forth, they decided to marry.  And he was going to go back to China with her, and help in the Chinese missionary endeavor, and help in our Baptist school in Tengchow, and in our educational institutions in China.  And as the days passed, this Crawford H. Toy, went to Germany, and there studying in the theological schools in Germany, he was introduced to higher criticism, to liberalism, what used to be called “modernism.”  And somehow I do not understand—but seemingly different kinds of people have different kinds of temptations, and Satan lays traps for different kinds of people.  A brilliant man, for example, a brilliant man, a scholarly man, cannot but look at—and many, many of them fall into the trap of—academic, intellectual, humanistic liberalism.  I never saw a liberal in my life that was not personable, kind and lovable; he is broad-minded, he has no narrow concepts, he is a great humanitarian.  The Book says that the Christian way is narrow, and the gate is strait [Mathew 7:14].  But they, in their academic fairness, in their seeking to be open-minded, broad-minded, they lay themselves open for all of the seed-sowing, or over sowing, of the intellectual, what I call, infidel.  That happened to Crawford H. Toy.  In Germany, he became obsessed with modern higher criticism.  He became a dupe to those who discount the Word of God, and look upon it as they would any other piece of human literature; not from heaven but from men.  So Crawford H. Toy, this brilliant professor and teacher of Hebrew and Semitic languages, he became a liberal; he became a modernist.

A quarter of a century ago, I wrote a book called These Issues We Must Face.  And one of the chapters in that book is entitled “The Curse of Modernism, Liberalism.”  And I closed the chapter with this story: “There came to one of our seminaries,” and that’s the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, though I don’t name it here:

There came to one of our seminaries one time, a scholarly young man by the name of Crawford H. Toy.  He was the pride and joy of the faculty.  He was brilliant beyond compare.  However, through reading German higher criticism and rationalism, he drifted away from the revealed truth of the Scriptures, and began to teach in the seminary the doctrines of men.  It broke the hearts of President James Petigru Boyce, and Professor John A. Broadus; but the dismissal had to come.  When Dr. Toy left, Boyce and Broadus accompanied him to the station, the Union Railway Station in Louisville, Kentucky.  Just before the train took him away, President Boyce placed his left arm around the shoulders of the young man, and lifting his right hand to heaven, said, ‘Crawford, I would give my right arm if you were back like you were when you first came to us.’  Dr. Toy left the seminary at Louisville to be professor of Hebrew at Harvard University.  He went into the Unitarian church, and finally, never went to church at all.  He was a world famous scholar, internationally known author, a lovable man; but the virus of modernism destroyed his spiritual life and work.

In a fine theological library, you will always find a large set of books entitled, The International Critical Commentary.  I collected these books over a long period of years.  And this is in my library.  In The International Critical Commentary, the Book of Proverbs is the result of the vast scholarship of Dr. Crawford H. Toy, when he wrote it, professor of Hebrew at Harvard University.  Now, what do you mean when you say a professor “falls?”  A great scholar can fall into the German rationalistic attitude and explanation of the Word of God?  Well let’s just take just one or two sentences out of this book by Dr. Toy on the Book of Proverbs, quote:

The name Moses stands for legislators of all periods.  Large parts of the Book of Amos, and Isaiah, and Micah, and Zephaniah, and Jeremiah, and Zechariah, were certainly not written by the prophets whose names they bear.  And Jonah and Daniel had nothing to do with the composition of the books called after them.

Then he speaks of the author of Proverbs, Solomon.

The fact is that though Solomon is said to be the author of Proverbs and Canticles, the Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes—all of this is but Jewish tradition that came to regard him as the ideal of these prophetical books.  And two of the books, Proverbs—

the one he is speaking of—

and Job, were written in the second and first centuries BC—

and the whole course, as I continue reading him—

Errors are frequent, mistakes are to be set down partly to the freedom which these copyists allowed themselves in dealing with this book as with all the other Old Testament books.  We find much the same state of things in Samuel, in Isaiah, in Ezekiel, and Psalms; filled with errors and mistakes, and by no means written by the men to whom they are attributed, and written so late as to be classified just as wisdom literature.

A good idea of what Crawford H. Toy and all of those rationalistic liberals came to believe is in this copy that I have from one of their number.  Now you listen to what they believe:

Not a few of us believe that Western Christian faith must finally pass away forever; leaving us to our own resources when our mental manhood shall have been attained.  In that coming day, her work will all have been done—

 Western Christianity—

She will have fully prepared us, by her parables and fairy tales, by her gentle falsehoods, for the terrible truth of existence; prepared us for the knowledge that there is no divine love, save the love of man for man, that we have no God, no Savior, no angel guardian, that we have no possible refuge but in our selves.

That is rationalistic liberalism.  And it was that faith that Crawford H. Toy came to embrace.

Now to conclude, briefly: when Lottie Moon, who was preparing to marry Dr. Toy, came to realize what he had done with the Book and with the faith, she broke off the engagement.  She refused to marry.  And she remained in China the rest of her life; living alone, giving her very soul to those Chinese people.  When she died, because of the laws of Japan, she had to be cremated.  So when Cynthia Miller came back to America with her ashes, they were buried in the churchyard of Crewe, Virginia, by the side of her brother, Isaac.

And being in Virginia, I said to a friend, “Would you take me to the town of Crewe?”  He acquiesced.  And coming into the town, I said, “Would you take me to the cemetery?”  And walking through the cemetery, I searched out the marble tombstone of Lottie Moon.  Her name, the date, 1840–1912, and the sentence, “Southern Baptist missionary to China for forty years”; and a final word, “Faithful unto death.”  Then I went inside the Baptist church at Crewe, Virginia, and there on the western wall is a very large stained-glass window, dedicated to her.  The window is this: there is a great field, and the grain has been shucked in sheaves.  And a woman is walking through the field of grain and the sheaves, and she is carrying in her hand a torch, raised high, and in her other hand is the Bible pressed against her heart; with a Bible in her hand, and underneath the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

I just wanted you to know why it is, that aside from her devotion as a missionary, and the genius of her mind in leading our Southern Baptist women to their nationwide organization, and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, above everything else, I thank God for her in her devotion to the Word of God.

If we disintegrate, it will be because we have given up the faith; we no longer believe in an infallible and inerrant and inspired Holy Scripture [2 Timothy 3:16].  We’ve lost our foundation.  We no longer stand upon the immutable Word of God.  We are now speculators, and philosophers, and metaphysicians, and humanists.  But we’re not preachers, and we’re not proclaimers of the good news because we’ve lost the faith; we’ve denied the revelation.  And that’s why I admire that glorious missionary so much.  “Dr. Toy, I’ll not marry a man who denies the Word of God!”  And would to God we were as faithful to that blessed Book in our day and in our generation as she was in hers.

Our time is far gone.  And we offer you, in the name of the Lord, this open invitation to join with us in the preaching of the gospel, in the commitment of God to this blessed Book, in the rearing of your children in the love and nurture and admonition of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4], and that you guide your home and your household toward the great truth of God that we have found in Christ Jesus, that you be a fellow pilgrim and a fellow Christian with us.  Come.  Come.  The road we travel leads to glory; it is God’s way, it is the highway to heaven.  Come, join us.  Bring your wife.  Bring your children.  Bring all whom God will allow you to influence in testimony, in witness, in word, in way, in life.  And this is God’s day, the Lord’s Day, the day dedicated to the blessed Savior.  To trust Him, to give your life to Him [Romans 10:9-13], to bring your family into the circle and circumference and fellowship of this wonderful church, make the decision in your heart.  And when in a moment we stand to sing, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles; “Here I am, pastor, I have chosen to walk in the way of the Lord; and I’m coming.”  “We’re coming.”  May angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.