Missions and Lottie Moon
November 30th, 1986 @ 10:50 AM
MISSIONS AND LOTTIE MOON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-30-86 10:50 a.m.
Welcome to the First Baptist Church in Dallas, those of you who are seated before a television set or listening to a radio. This is the pastor of the church bringing the message entitled Missions and Lottie Moon. As a background text, in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Mark, verses 40 and 41, Mark 15:40-41: “There were also women… among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less, and of Joses, and Salome… who followed Him, and ministered unto Him.” And of those women, in modern times one is Lottie Moon.
Years ago, sharing in an extensive three month evangelistic mission in Japan, I came from the evangelistic service conducted in Tokyo, then to Yokohama, then to Osaka, and finally to Kobe. I said in Kobe to our missionary couple there, Reverend Robert Shearer and his wife, “If you don’t mind, just let me be quiet for a while on the porch of your missionary home that overlooks Kobe Bay.”
The great mountain at Kobe comes down to the water, and about halfway up that mountain was their home. And I sat there on the porch and reviewed in memory the life of Lottie Moon. It was in that bay, it was in that harbor, that she died in 1912. At a later time, I asked to be taken to the burial ground, the cemetery, in Crewe, Virginia, and stood there where she is buried, and then sat in the Baptist church in Crewe before a very large stained-glass window dedicated to her.
Lottie Moon was born in 1840 in Albemarle County in the heart of Virginia, close to Jefferson’s home at Monticello. She was born into a well to do aristocratic, old Southern family. When she was nineteen years of age, in 1859, she was in attendance at the Albemarle Female Institute, located in Charlottesville, the county seat of Albemarle County and the home of the University of Virginia. As a student there in that school, she was won to the Lord by John A. Broadus, who taught in the school and who was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville. And she was baptized upon that commitment of her life to Christ into the fellowship of the church in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 1873, she and a Miss Safford were teaching in a girls’ school in Cartersville, Georgia. In February of that year of 1873, Dr. Hayden, who must have been from what I can read a most gifted and eloquent pastor, preached a sermon at the associational meeting of churches meeting in Cartersville. In that message he pressed an invitation for volunteers to go to the foreign field, and those two teachers, Miss Moon and Miss Safford, responded. They came forward and dedicated their lives to the foreign mission enterprise. And that Christmas of 1873 found Miss Lottie Moon in Tengchow in Shandong province of northern China. And for forty years she remained there in the little house of the crossroads, as they called her home, and in Ping Tu, one hundred and fifteen miles west and interior in northern China.
In 1887, Miss Lottie Moon wrote an article for the Foreign Mission Journal. And in that article she made an appeal for two things. One: for the organization of a woman’s missionary union in our Southern Baptist communion to support the mission enterprise. And the second appeal was that the week before Christmas they’d have an offering for the support of these foreign missionaries. She must have been a very gifted writer. I read first the appeal she made for the organization of WMU. She wrote:
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 women’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.
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 idealism will make giving a principle in her life. She will lay aside sacredly not less than one-tenth of her income 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 Christ 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.”
This was her appeal for the organization of Women’s Missionary Union. Now, in that same article she made a second appeal. She suggested that Southern Baptist women institute a week of prayer and offering, and that this be the week before Christmas. These are her exact words:
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 world?
That article was published in December of 1887. The following year, in 1888, the Southern Baptist Convention met in Richmond, Virginia. And at that convention, upon the suggestion I’ve just read to you from Lottie Moon in Tengchow, China, there was organized the Women’s Missionary Union. The first executive leader was named Annie Armstrong from Baltimore, Maryland. There is a little personal touch in memory of that convention from our own dear church here in Dallas. Minnie Slaughter Veal, for whom that building yonder is named—Minnie Slaughter Veal was a messenger and attendant to that convention in Richmond when WMU was organized.
Upon its organization in May of 1888, Annie Armstrong asked Dr. Tupper, the executive leader of our Foreign Mission Board, she asked him about the second suggestion of Lottie Moon that the week before Christmas there be made an appeal to the churches, a Christmas offering for the support of the foreign missionary. And Dr. Tupper replied, “Try it. Try it.”
So the Christmas week of 1888 was the first Christmas offering, later named for Lottie Moon. They had a goal, a South-wide goal, of $2,000. They raised, in their South-wide offering $3,300, and they sent out three new missionaries. The salary of the missionary was $1,000 a year. When I think of the missionaries’ salary, I think of a whole lot of attendant remembrances. When I pastored my first church they said to me, “If you will work hard, we will try to pay you $20 a month.” I worked hard, and they tried to pay me $20 a month. And I lived on $20 a month.
Somebody said to me last Sunday, when I preached a Thanksgiving sermon on the blessings of God, and spoke of my being reared poor, they said, “Maybe you were not so poor.” And I replied, “Did you ever try to live on $20 a month? You will just see how poor some of us have been.” That was the first Christmas offering, at the suggestion of Lottie Moon.
Now may I add a word of one of the reasons I admire that woman beyond any way I could describe in syllable or in sentence? In that Albemarle Female Institute there was also a young professor by the name of Crawford H. Toy. He must have been one of the most brilliant theologians and biblical scholars of all time. In my library, I have several copies of the International Critical Commentary, the most scholarly publication on the Word of God that has ever been placed in print. And a big volume in that International Commentary is written by Crawford H. Toy. As you look through that volume, you can hardly realize the vast erudition of that learned professor.
While he was teaching in that Albemarle Female Institute, and while this young woman, Lottie Moon, was in attendance, he fell in love with the young girl. As the years passed, she went to Tengchow in Shandong, northern China, to be a missionary. And the brilliant young man Dr. Crawford H. Toy went to be a professor, the first one chosen beyond the four founding fathers of our Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, my alma mater. I attended that seminary six years.
While Dr. Toy, this brilliant professor of Hebrew, was teaching in the seminary, he went to Germany for graduate studies and there was introduced to German higher criticism, an approach to the Bible that is humanistic. It treats the Word of God as any other human writing—not inerrant, not infallible, just a work of men such as Milton, or Shakespeare, or Homer, or Dante. He became a disciple of Wellhausen, and Bauer, and Kuenen, and the Tübingen school, and came back to the seminary and began to speak of some of those higher critical persuasions to which he had given his mind and heart.
The seminary says today that he would be accepted in that. That’s what the Southern Seminary has written in their latest theological journal, but not then. Dr. James Petigru Boyce, the president of the seminary, and Dr. John A. Broadus, the professor of Greek and later president of the seminary, took Dr. Crawford H. Toy to the railway station on Broadway in Louisville and placed him on the train and sent him away. Dr. James Petigru Boyce put his left arm around Dr. Crawford, the young man, and raised his right hand to heaven and said, “Dr. Crawford, I would gladly give my right arm if you were back as you were when you first came to the seminary.” Dr. Crawford went to Harvard University to be professor of Hebrew there, went into the Unitarian church, and finally never went to church at all.
In Tengchow, China, where the correspondence between the two had continued through the years, Lottie Moon decided that she would be the wife of Dr. Toy. And he said, “I will go with you to be a missionary in China.” And sweet Lottie Moon came to America to marry Dr. Crawford H. Toy. When she came to America and talked to him about the Word of God and learned his views of Holy Scripture, she broke off the engagement and brokenheartedly returned to her mission station in China, and said in a letter, “I cannot give up my Bible.” She remained single the rest of her life. He remained single the rest of his life.
How many young women would do that today? How many are thus committed to the infallible Word of God? I repeat: I cannot but find in my heart an admiration for that missionary beyond any expression I can verbalize. However this ultimate turn may be among our people, I am forever and forever on that side of the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God [2 Timothy 3 :16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21].
In the passing of the years, coming now to 1911, and Lottie Moon has been a missionary in northern China for thirty-nine years. In those sad and tragic days there came a great famine in Ping Tu, and her Christians were starving to death. In those difficult days the Foreign Mission Board increasingly went in debt to support our foreign mission enterprise. Our people did not give enough money to support the missionaries, so the money was borrowed from the banks in Richmond to pay the salary of the missionary.
Over there in Tengchow and in Ping Tu, Lottie Moon took all of her savings out of the bank in Shanghai to help the starving Christians in Ping Tue. She devoted her entire salary to those famishing people, and she refused to live on borrowed money. I cannot find the truth in this; some of the missionaries who were with Lottie Moon said that she broke in her mind. What she said was, “I will not eat. I will not eat while my starving Christians are dying in Ping Tu.” She said a second thing. “I will not live on borrowed money.”
The doctor was called and immediately, just looking at her, he pronounced the physicians verdict: “She is starving to death.” They placed her upon a Pacific steamer called the Manchuria in the port at Shanghai to send her back to America. There was a missionary nurse named Cynthia Miller whose furlough was due, and they placed the sickened and dying Lottie Moon under her care. The ship stopped on the way back to America in Kobe, Japan. And while the ship was at anchor in the bay at Kobe, Japan, Cynthia Miller, the nurse, saw Miss Lottie Moon in Chinese greetings. And she lowered her head to hear what the missionary was saying. And what Miss Lottie Moon was doing was clasping and unclasping her hands in Chinese greetings and calling the names of Chinese Christians who had been dead years and years ago.
What do you think of that? Do you think that these who die, God saints, in the closing moments of their lives they greet these who have preceded them? I stumble into it often in my pastoral ministry. Mother, father, a son, a daughter, a beloved friend or husband, before the release in death comes to them, they see heaven open, and they greet these they have known and loved in the years gone by. What do you think of that? That’s the way Lottie Moon died, greeting old Chinese friends she had known in the years and the years gone by.
By the law of Japan her body was cremated, and Cynthia Miller brought the ashes back to America, and they are buried there in the cemetery in Crewe, Virginia, by the side of her brother. On the marble tombstone are simply written these words: her name, Lottie Moon, the years of her life, 1840-1912, then the sentence: “Forty years a Southern Baptist missionary to China.” And a concluding word: “Faithful unto death.”
Inside the church is a large stained-glass window, and on it is pictured a woman with flowing garments walking in a field of ripened green. Underneath, the Great Commission: “Go into all the world” [Matthew 28:19-20]. And then the final sentence: “Lottie Moon, our missionary”; a tremendously impressive ministry before the Lord! It is remarkable to me how God has blessed the devoted sacrifice of that single missionary.
In these years gone by, I was in a preaching mission in Brazil, and holding a meeting in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco. The hub of South America toward Africa is that state of Pernambuco. And Recife is a great modern and thriving city. We have an extensive Baptist work in Recife. And in that work is a large school attended by hundreds and hundreds of young people. In all of my missionary travels— and for over thirty-five years, I went all over this earth preaching the gospel—in all of this world, I have never seen a man on a mission field that impressed me more than Alfredo Menasis in Recife, who headed that great school—an elegant-looking man, and an eloquent man.
I asked, “Where did he come from?”
And they replied, “He was one of the most brilliant lawyers in Brazil. And in our mission compound there was a missionary who wrote a biography of Lottie Moon, wrote it in Portuguese for the Brazilian people. And he took that biography of Lottie Moon and placed it in the hands of an eloquent and brilliant lawyer who was an infidel. He was a pagan unbeliever by the name of Alfredo Menasis. But because of the linguistic genius of the man, the missionary placed the biography of Lottie Moon in his hands to correct it, to put it in beautiful Portuguese language. In reading that biography, that brilliant infidel lawyer was saved. He became a Christian. He gave his life to Christ. He went to the Baptist church in Recife to confess that faith, that newfound faith.”
As so many churches do, and now increasingly among even our Baptist churches, the preacher gave no invitation. He just closed the service and when this brilliant lawyer saw that the pastor was closing the service without an invitation, he stood up. And he said, “But my brother, I have found the Lord. I have become a Christian. And in keeping with the Word of God, I want to confess openly and publicly my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” [Romans 10:8-13]; Alfredo Menasis.
When I came back to this church, I made a resolve in my heart. We’ll never have a service here but that we shall give an invitation. We shall open the door into the kingdom, into the fellowship, and into the communion of God’s people. Maybe nobody responds. That’s up to God. We don’t convert. We don’t convict. We don’t save. God does that. But our assignment is to point the way, lift up the Lord, make an appeal in His name. And we do that at every hour, every service, every convocation of our people.
And it is thus a holy and heavenly privilege to do it again. To give your heart to the Lord; to come into the fellowship of this precious congregation; to follow close our Master who gave Himself for us [1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 2:20]; or to answer the call of the Holy Spirit in your heart; in a moment when we stand to sing our appeal, on that first stanza, come. May God bless and angels attend as you answer with your life. Now may we pray?
Our Lord, in the beautiful example of this godly woman, God’s missionary, may there be brought into our hearts and into our homes and into our lives and into our church a renewed devotion and consecration and commitment to Thee. Lord, help us to do more for Thee, more and more for Thee, and may God take our consecrated service and use it here and beyond the seas to bring others to the saving knowledge of Christ. Oh, what a difference Jesus can make in the human heart and the human life! And our Lord, bless this appeal this morning. Give us in Thy goodness and grace [Ephesians 2:8] a gracious response; souls, some confessing Thee as Savior [Romans 10:8-13], some coming into the fellowship of our wonderful church [Hebrews 10:24-25], some answering God’s call for service. And thank Thee, Lord, for each one, in Thy precious and saving and keeping name, amen.
Now brother Denny, let’s sing us a song, and while we sing it, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “This is God’s day for me, pastor, and here I stand.” Welcome, come, while we sing our hymn of appeal.