Missions and Lottie Moon
November 30th, 1986 @ 8:15 AM
MISSIONS AND LOTTIE MOON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-30-86 8:15 a.m.
And we welcome all of you who share this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message. In keeping with the request of our Woman’s Missionary Union, the message today concerns a great, marvelously blessed of God missionary.
As an introductory text I read Mark chapter 15, verses 40 and 41; Mark chapter 15, verses 40 and 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 one of those women who followed Him and ministered unto Him in our modern centuries is Lottie Moon.
Lottie Moon was born in 1840, in Albemarle County, the heart of Virginia, close to Jefferson’s home in Monticello. She was born in a cultured and aristocratic, old Southern home. When she was nineteen years old, she was in attendance upon Albemarle Female Institute. If you’ve looked in these foundation stones of girls’ schools, they were all called “female institutes.” It was located in Charlottesville, the county seat of Albemarle County, and the home of the University of Virginia. At that time in that institute there was a professor by the name of John A. Broadus. He was also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Charlottesville, Virginia. John A. Broadus later was president and a founder of the Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky; one of the tremendously gifted Greek scholars and biblical scholars of our Southern Baptist zion. He won the young woman Lottie Moon to the Lord, and baptized her into the fellowship of that church in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 1873, she and Miss Safford were teaching in a girls’ school in Cartersville, Georgia. At an associational meeting in the early part of that year, a gifted minister, Dr. Hedon, pastor of the first church in Cartersville, delivered what apparently was a marvelously dynamic message on foreign missions, made an appeal for volunteers, and those two women teachers, Lottie Moon and Miss Safford, went forward and dedicated themselves to the foreign mission enterprise. That Christmas of 1873 found Lottie Moon sent out by the Foreign Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia, found Lottie Moon in China, in Tungchow, in the Shantung province in Northern China. And for the next forty years she lived in the little crossroads house, as they called it, in Tungchow, and ministering there also ministered in Pingtu, an interior station a hundred fifteen miles further west.
In 1887, Lottie Moon wrote an article which was published in the Foreign Mission Journal. And in that article she made an appeal for the organization of women who belong to Southern Baptist churches to support foreign missions. And in that article, these are her words of appeal:
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 continued in that article:
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.’
In that same article, written in 1887, she also suggested that those Southern Baptist women institute a week of prayer and an offering, and that this be the week before Christmas. Here 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, be 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?
She wrote that in 1887. The following year, in 1888, in May, there gathered the Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond, Virginia. And at that Southern Baptist Convention in 1888, in keeping with the appeal of Miss Lottie Moon, they organized Woman’s Missionary Union.
One of the unusual things in our own church, Mrs. Minnie Slaughter Veal, who loved us so much and gave us the money for this building here, Minnie Slaughter Veal was in attendance at that convention, and was present when Southwide WMU was organized. Miss Annie W. Armstrong of Baltimore, Maryland, was elected the first executive secretary. Dr. Tupper was the executive leader of the Foreign Mission Board. And in keeping with the suggestion of Miss Lottie Moon, she asked Dr. Tupper if that Christmas they could not have a week of prayer for foreign missions and an offering for the cause. Dr. Tupper said, “Try it. Try it.” And they did. The first Lottie Moon Christmas offering—not called by that then—suggested by Lottie Moon, they had a goal of two thousand dollars. They raised three thousand three hundred dollars, and sent out three missionaries. The salary of a missionary was one thousand dollars a year. And lest you think that was unusual, when I was called to be pastor of my first church, they said to me, “If you’ll work hard, we’ll try to pay you twenty dollars a month.” And I made twenty dollars a month, and lived on it.
Somebody said to me when I preached last Sunday that I grew up poor, they said, “Were you really poor?” I said, “Did you ever try to live on twenty dollars a month?” Things have changed, haven’t they?
That was the organization of WMU and that was the first Christmas offering.
I want to tell you why there is an abounding and everlasting admiration in my heart for that young woman. There was also in Albemarle Female Institute another teacher by the name of Crawford H. Toy. And Crawford H. Toy fell in love with the young student Lottie Moon. Crawford H. Toy apparently was as brilliant a scholar as ever read Hebrew and Greek. He was the first one invited to be a professor in Southern Seminary beyond the four founding scholars who established the school. And Crawford H. Toy began teaching in the Southern Seminary, apparently brilliant beyond compare. In my library I have in the International Critical Commentary, the commentary on the Book of Proverbs, written by Crawford H. Toy. As I read that commentary, I am overwhelmed by the vast, apparently limitless, profound scholarship of the young man who wrote it. As the days passed, Lottie Moon went to China to be a missionary. And Crawford H. Toy, professor of Hebrew in Southern Seminary, went to Germany to study in graduate work. In Germany, Dr. Toy was introduced to the higher critical approach to the Holy Scriptures: Wellhausen, Bauer, the Tubingen school, Cunin, all of those men who formed such a brilliant attack against the Word of God that today, to this present day, I suppose there is not a liberal seminary in the world but who teaches that higher critical approach to Holy Scripture. Not to believe it, but I was taught it when I went to the seminary. Crawford H. Toy became a convert to that higher critical approach to the Holy Scriptures; and returning to the seminary at Louisville, began to speak of that persuasion regarding the inspiration of God’s Holy Word.
Today, according to an article published by the Southern Seminary in their official theological journal, he would have been accepted; but not then. Dr. Broadus, professor of Greek at that time, and James Pettigrew Boyce, who was the president of the school, took Crawford H. Toy down to the Broadway station, the railroad station in Louisville, and put him on a train, and sent him away. “You can’t teach that in our school. We believe in the infallibility and inerrancy and the inspiration of the Word of God; and you can’t teach that.” James Pettigrew Boyce put his left arm around Crawford H. Toy, and raised his right hand to heaven and said, “I would give this right arm, Dr. Toy, if you were back as you were when you first came to teach with us.”
Crawford H. Toy went to Harvard to be professor of Hebrew there. He went into the Unitarian church, and finally never went to church at all. But in those years, in those years, Lottie Moon in Tungchow and Crawford H. Toy in America, kept up their correspondence. And the young woman in Tungchow, Lottie Moon, made the decision to come to America to marry Crawford H. Toy. And Crawford H. Toy made a commitment that he would go with Lottie Moon as a missionary to China.
Miss Lottie Moon came to America to marry Crawford H. Toy. But when she found out his attitude toward the Word of God, she said in a later letter, “My Bible is too dear to me to give it up.” And she returned to China, never to visit America again. And Crawford H. Toy continued his scholarly advancement in infidelity and unbelief. She never married. He never married. When she died, in her trunk were all of the works and books and letters of Dr. Toy. I say I admire that young woman beyond any way I could verbalize it. There are not many who would pay that price today. In fact, there are not many who would discountenance the infidelity of Crawford Toy in our modern schools.
As the years passed and Lottie Moon ministered to her Christians in Tungchow and Pingtu, there came a great famine in Pingtu. And the Christians were starving. Lottie Moon, now seventy-one years of age, gave everything she had to those starving Christians; everything she had saved and placed in the bank in Shanghai, and her salary. All of it she gave to those starving Christians. The Foreign Mission Board was increasingly in debt; borrowed money to support the missionaries they had on the field. And somehow—and I can’t tell which—some of the missionaries who knew her said, “Her mind broke in sorrow.” But she said, “I will not eat while my Christians in Pingtu starve. I will not eat.” Second, she said; “I will not live on borrowed money.”
A doctor was called; just looking at her, immediately he said, “She is starving to death.” It was decided to put her on a boat and send her back to America. There was a nurse named Cynthia Miller, whose furlough had come; and with Cynthia Miller they placed Lottie Moon, now seventy-two years of age, on a Pacific steamer called “The Manchuria.” The boat stopped in Kobe, Japan. And while it was at anchor in Kobe, Japan, Miss Cynthia Miller noticed that this little frail woman was speaking and clasping and unclasping her hands in Chinese fashion. She placed her ear close to her face. What Lottie Moon was doing was, in Chinese fashion, she was greeting old Chinese saints who’d been dead for years and years.
What do you think of that? Do you suppose some of our saints who die see heaven open before they are translated and are greeted by the saints in glory? Could such a thing be? That’s the way she died: in Chinese greeting, precious saints she had known in the years past.
By law of Japan, her body had to be cremated. And Miss Cynthia Miller brought it back to America. I said to missionary Robert Shearer in Kobe, I said to him, “If you don’t mind, let me sit on the porch of this missionary home, and just let me be alone.” The mountain comes down to the Kobe Bay, and that missionary home is on the side of the mountain. And I sat there overlooking that Kobe harbor where she died, and I reviewed the years of her life. I asked to be taken to Crewe, Virginia, where she is buried, where her ashes are laid to rest. And there is a monument in the middle of the cemetery, with her name, Lottie Moon, the dates of her life, 1840-1912, and then the word, “Forty years Southern Baptist missionary to China,” and then underneath, “Faithful unto death.” I sat inside of the First Baptist Church at Crewe, Virginia, and there is a very large stained-glass window there, dedicated to her. In the window is a woman with a flowing robe, in a field of ripened grain. She holds in her hand a Bible. How blessed! Next to her heart she holds a Bible; and her right hand is raised, holding a lighted torch. Underneath is the Great Commission [Matthew 28:19-20]: “Into all the world, teaching”; and underneath, her name, “Lottie Moon, our missionary.”
The extent of the influence of her life is remarkable. I close with an instance. I was preaching in Recife, the capital of the state Pernambuco in Brazil. In the hump of South America, toward Africa, is Pernambuco, and the capital city is a very large city, Recife. In that city we have a tremendous Baptist work; including in that work a great school, a wonderful school. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of young people in that school. The leader of the school, when I was there, was Alfredo Meneses. I have never seen a man in the earth that was more elegant or eloquent or impressive than Alfredo Meneses. He was somebody to see and to hear. He headed that school. I asked, “Where did this man come from? And who is he?” Alfredo Meneses was a brilliant lawyer in Recife, and a pagan infidel, but brilliant and eloquent. One of our missionaries in Recife wrote a biography in Portuguese, in their language, of Lottie Moon. And in order to make it acceptable to those Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, he placed the manuscript in the hands of this brilliant and eloquent lawyer, Alfredo Meneses, and asked him to correct the Portuguese language. And in reading that biography of Lottie Moon, that brilliant pagan, lawyer was saved, became a Christian, gave his heart to the Lord! And thereafter, having been chosen as head of the school, every year has a day in the school dedicated to Lottie Moon. And there’s something about him that I have never forgotten and have followed after: when this brilliant lawyer was saved, he went to the Baptist church there in Recife, to give his heart to the Lord publicly, as God’s Book says. And the preacher preached his sermon, and didn’t give an invitation. How many, many churches are like that? And even our Baptist churches? He didn’t give an invitation. When the brilliant lawyer saw the preacher was not giving an invitation, he stood up, and he said, “But sir, I have been saved. I’ve given my heart to the Lord, and I want to confess the Lord publicly and openly as my Savior.” And when I was told that, I came back here, and I said, “There’ll never be a service that I conduct, whether anybody responds or not, that’s in God’s hands, I don’t save the people. I’m not the Holy Spirit to convict, but I can be an instrument. And every service I conduct, we’re going to give an invitation.” I think God will bless that, and I think He will bless it this morning.
To give your heart to the Lord, to open your soul heavenward and God-ward, or to put your life in the fellowship of our wonderful church, or to answer God’s call to your heart and life, this is a beautiful and a precious time to do it. Denny, we’re going to sing us a song. And while we sing the appeal, on the first note of that first stanza, make that first step; it’ll be the most meaningful you’ll ever make in your life. Down a stairway, down one of these aisles, “Here I come, preacher, this is God’s day for me, and here I stand.” Welcome, while we stand and while we sing.