December 4th, 1988 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-4-88 10:50 a.m.
We welcome the throngs of you who share the hour on radio and on cable television. Our service today is dedicated to the week of prayer for the conversion of the world, and for the hundredth anniversary of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, supporting that tremendous dedication. In our preaching through the Gospel of John, we are in the high priestly prayer, in the seventeenth chapter. And in God’s gracious providence, a background text is in the midst of the passage from which I have been preaching.
Our Lord says, in John 17:20-23:
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word . . .
That the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
And the glory which Thou gavest Me I give them . . .
I in them, Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me.
The service is dedicated, in world missions, to the memory of one of the greatest emissaries of Christ that our communion, our denomination, our faith and fellowship has ever known: Miss Charlotte Moon, Miss Lottie Moon. I have three things to speak of the beginning of her life, and three things to describe in the consummation of her life.
First, she was born in 1840 in Albemarle County, in the heart of Virginia, close to Monticello. The county seat of Albemarle is Charlottesville. And, Charlottesville, Virginia is the home of the University of Virginia. She was born in an aristocratic, Old-South, well-to-do home. In 1859, she was in attendance upon a girls’ school in Charlottesville. The pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville was John A. Broadus, and he was also a professor in the girls’ school. And in 1859, he won the girl to the Lord and baptized her.
Then in 1873, she and a Miss Safford were teaching in Cartersville, Georgia, in a girls’ school in that little city. And while teaching in the girls’ school in Cartersville, Georgia, in 1873, Dr. Headden, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Cartersville, preached at an associational convocation. And he directed the message that he brought to the need of the world to hear the voice and message of our Savior, the Lord Jesus. And when he made appeal for volunteers to go to the mission field, those two young women, Miss Safford and Miss Lottie Moon, came forward and dedicated their lives to be foreign missionaries.
And that Christmas of 1873, she was in Tsingtao in Shantung Province in northern China. And for the next forty years, she gave her life as a minister from heaven to those dear people in Tsingtao and 150 miles further into the interior in P’ing-tu.
Now the wonderful thing that God brought into our Southern Baptist life through that marvelously dedicated, young woman: in 1887 she made an appeal to the Baptists of the South. In behalf of an organization of women to support the foreign mission enterprise, she published her appeal to publish her article in the Foreign Mission Journal.
And in 1887, the people who would open their hearts to foreign missions read these words from Lottie Moon in Tsingtao, China. I quote:
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 thorougly 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 better 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 the Lord Jesus in bringing back a lost world to God, and so aid in bringing the answer to the petition our Lord taught His disciple: Thy kingdom come.
In this same appeal in 1887, in that foreign mission journal, she also suggested not only that there be an organization of Baptist women, but that those women institute a week of prayer, and an offering, and that this be the week before Christmas. I quote her exact words. “Need it be said why the week before Christmas is chosen? Is not this 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 in the journal in 1887.
In May of the following year, in 1888, the Southern Baptist Convention assembled in Richmond, Virginia. And, at that meeting, Woman’s Missionary Union was organized. Annie W. Armstrong of Baltimore, Maryland was elected the first executive secretary.
And having organized WMU., and having elected a secretary, an executive leader, Annie Armstrong came to Dr. Tupper, who was the executive leader of the Foreign Mission Board and asked about the suggestion of Lottie Moon that the week before Christmas they have an offering for foreign missions. And Dr. Tupper replied, “Try it.”
So the appeal was made throughout the Southland, through WMU. to the women, that they make a special offering for foreign missions. Their goal was $2,000, $2,000 and they raised $3,000. The salary of a missionary was a $1,000 a year.
Did you know for many years, here as pastor of this church in Dallas, the salary of a foreign missionary was $1,000? So they raised $3,000 and they sent out three single missionaries. And that was the beginning of WMU. And that was the beginning of the week of prayer for foreign missions, and that was the beginning of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Now may I speak in the second place, of an abounding admiration for that little woman—she was about five feet tall—for that little woman of foreign missions named Lottie Moon? And when I am done with this, you will understand why I say that my admiration for her is abounding, without limit. When she was attending the Albemarle Female Institute, which is the name they called their girls’ school—when she was attending the school, there was a brilliant, young teacher by the name of Crawford H. Toy—T-o-y, Toy—Crawford H. Toy. I would think he is the most brilliant scholar that our Southern Baptist Zion has ever produced. He was a teacher there in the school, and he fell in love with that vivacious and alive—she was very much quickened in her life—he fell in love with that young woman, Lottie Moon.
As the days passed, as I said, Lottie Moon went to China, to be a missionary. And Crawford H. Toy was chosen to be a professor in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary that organized in South Carolina, then moved to Louisville, Kentucky. And it was organized by James Petigru Boyce and by John A. Broadus. And there were four gifted professors who were teaching in the school. And they added a fifth one: the brilliant Crawford H. Toy.
And in the days of his teaching at the seminary, he went to study in Germany. And there in Germany, he was introduced to the higher critical understanding of the Word of God.
And when he came back from those studies in Germany and German higher criticism, he became a devotee of that understanding of this sacred Word. He became what, at that time, was called a modernist. Later they became known as liberals. Today, they are referred to as moderates. What he did was, embracing that higher critical understanding of the Word of God, he came to the conclusion that it was a human book, not from God. It was from men. It was a human book. And as such, like Aesop’s Fables, it was filled with myth and with legend.
For example, I have in my library this book by Crawford H. Toy. There is not a theological library in existence, in the earth, but that has this book. It is a part of the International Critical Commentary. And Dr. Toy wrote the commentary on Proverbs.
To give you an idea of the higher critical approach to the Word of God, I quote from the introduction. Dr. Toy says, “The name quote, “Moses,” stands for ecclesiastical legislation of all periods, no such man as Moses and no such thing as the five books of Moses being from God. It was just a collection of all of the theological precepts of the centuries. And the name Moses just stands up there at the head of it.”
Then he continues, “Large parts of the books of Amos, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah were not written by the prophets. Nobody knows where it came from. And Jonah and Daniel had nothing to do with the composition of the books called upon them.”
In the higher critical stance that was embraced by Dr. Toy, “all of that was post-Exilic, written hundreds and hundreds of years after it was supposed to have been written in the Bible. Then, the name Solomon is of doubtful import. The fact that he is said to be the author of Proverbs—and what have you—shows that the Jewish tradition came to regard him as the ideal of wisdom, and a writer of idealizing poetry ascribed to him indiscriminately, everything of this sort. No such thing as Solomon having written any of those books like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.” That was the Crawford H. Toy who came back from Germany with those documentary hypotheses and the new attitude toward the Word of God.
Well, Lottie Moon came from China to America to marry Crawford H. Toy. And when she came to America and learned of his attitude toward the Word of God, she was shattered, brokenhearted, and went back to China, never to return to America again, crushed and devastated by what had happened to the man with whom she planned to build a home in the Lord. As she said in her letters across the ocean, “I could never give up my Bible, I could never.”
Well, what happened there at the seminary was John A. Broadus, later president, then New Testament professor, and James Petigru Boyce, the president of the school, took Crawford Toy, Dr. Toy, to the railroad station in Louisville at Tenth and Broadway. And Dr. Boyce put his left arm around the shoulder of the brilliant scholar and raised his right hand to heaven and said, “Crawford, I would give this right arm if you were back as you were, when you first came to us.”
Crawford Toy, Dr. Toy, went away on the train, went to Harvard University to be Professor of Hebrew there, went into the Unitarian Church and finally, never went to church at all. And when Lottie Moon died, her trunk contained all of the works and all of the books of Crawford Toy, and all of the letters that they had written across the ocean.
Could I turn aside for a second and show you the difference between our Baptist institutions then, and our Baptist institutions now? In a not too long ago recent issue of the Review and Expositor, the theological journal of Southern Baptist Seminary, in Louisville, Kentucky, there is an article on Crawford H. Toy, full of lavish and extravagant praise for the Unitarian. And the closing two sentences of the review are these. First sentence: “So far as his critical trends developed within the ten years of his membership on the faculty, his views today would not be regarded as revolutionary, much less to call for drastic action.”
Second and last sentence: “Toy’s research and views were too advanced for his contemporaries.” That is why, according to the faculty and the school today—that Boyce and Broadus took him to the station and dismissed him from the faculty of the seminary—if he were there today, he would be extolled and exalted and praised for his Unitarian, Bible-denying views. Good God in heaven! What has happened to our people, and to our schools, and to our seminaries?
That’s why I say I stand here in deepest admiration for Lottie Moon. Rather than marry a man who turned aside from the infallible and inerrant word of God, she went back to China, brokenhearted, but true to the faith, and died there in the Orient as our emissary and exponent of the infallible word of God.
Now the third part: after forty years in Tsingtao and in P’ing-tu, the Foreign Missionary Board came into great necessity. Our people did not support the foreign mission appeal. And at the same time, there was a great famine in P’ing-tu, and those Christians were starving by the thousands and the thousands.
There was no help from our people in America. We just let the people starve. So that little missionary, now 72 years of age—if her P’ing-tu Christians had nothing to eat, she would not eat. If they were starving, she would starve. And if they died, she would die. Also, she refused to accept a salary from a board that had to borrow the money to pay her. And as the days passed, naturally, her body wasted away, and she became increasingly weak, an invalid, dying, dying of starvation.
At that time, there was a nurse named Cynthia Miller, who was due for a furlough. So they sent the frail little woman back to America, under the surveillance and care of the nurse, Cynthia Miller. She was taken to Shanghai and placed on a ship there called Manchung. And the ship made port call in Kobe, Japan. And while the ship was in the harbor at Kobe, Japan, Lottie Moon died.
I was the guest of Robert Sharibe and his wife, our Southern Baptist missionaries in Japan, stationed in Kobe. And there is a mountain that rises out of the Kobe Bay. And about halfway up that mountain, was the missionary home of the Sharibe’s. And I said to Robert Sharibe and his wife, “If you don’t mind, just leave me alone. Just let me sit here on the porch.” And they were gracious. So I sat there on the porch of the missionary’s home, overlooking the harbor of Kobe. And I relived the years of the life of that sweet missionary.
And there, in that harbor and on that ship, she lay, and began, in Chinese greeting, clasping and unclasping her hands. And Cynthia Miller lowered her ear, to see what it was the dying missionary was saying. And as she lowered her ear, she heard Lottie Moon, as she clasped and unclasped her hand in Chinese greeting, she was calling the names of P’ing-tu Christians who had been dead for many, many years.
And I sat there above that harbor thinking, “Is that what it is to die?” Greeting these we have loved and lost for just awhile. When God opens heaven and we are invited into the presence of the great King, are they there to greet us too? “Hello, Mom. Hello, Dad”—these we have known and loved are waiting for us in glory?
Is that the way that we die? That’s the way Stephen died. He looked up and saw Jesus standing to receive him [Acts 7:55-56], the only place in God’s Book where the Lord is presented as standing. Always, always in God’s Book, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. Always, He is seated. Just one place in Gods Book is Jesus described as standing, and that once, He stood to receive the soul of His first martyr, Stephen [Acts 7:5-56]. Thus, Lottie Moon went away to be with our Lord, welcomed by the Christians she had won and loved and know in P’ing-tu.
Well, she was brought here to America. I went to Crewe, Virginia where she is buried. And I knelt there before that marble headstone in Virginia and prayed. Simple gravestone, her name, the dates of her life, forty years a missionary from our Southern Baptist Convention. And then, underneath, the words: “Faithful unto death” [Revelation 2:10]. I went into the church in Crewe and sat there before a very large and impressive stained-glassed window. Dedicated to her, the window is of a woman walking through a ripened field of grain, sheaves of grain. In her left hand and, pressed against her heart, is the Word of God, the Bible. And her right hand is raised high, bearing a torch. And underneath are the words of the Commission: “Go into all the world, and teach all nations” [Matthew 28:19]. And then the final sentence: “Dedicated to our missionary, Lottie Moon.”
In Tsingtao, where she lived for those forty years, those poor converts there, over a period of three years, gathered what little funds they could make together, and built and bought, and erected a marble headstone in the little crossroads church where she ministered, and worked, and loved, and prayed. And there, her name and the dates, and then the words: “The church at Tsingtao remembers forever.”
I close. It is a remarkable thing: the tremendous repercussion of the life of that dedicated woman. I was preaching, for example, in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, and was with a brilliant lawyer, who headed our Baptist school in Recife. And as I sat by his side, talking to him about his Christian faith and conversion and how he became a child of God, “This is it,” he said to me—his name is Alfredo Menezes—he said that there was a teacher in the school who had written a story of the life of Lottie Moon. And he had written it of course in English. So the teacher brought the manuscript to him, a brilliant lawyer, eloquent in Portuguese. He brought the manuscript to Alfredo and asked him to translate it, to convert it into beautiful Portuguese language. And Alfredo received the manuscript and translated it into Portuguese for the people of Brazil.
And he said to me, “As I translated the story of that wonderful woman, that marvelous missionary,” he said, “God convicted me in my heart, and I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior and became a Christian.” And because of his tremendous gifts, he was invited to head the school in Recife, Brazil.
I want to take one other thing that he told me. He said, “I went to the church, having been won to the Lord, having given my life to Christ, I went to the church”—went to our Baptist Church in Recife, Brazil—“and I sat there, and the preacher, when he got through, didn’t give an invitation; didn’t give an invitation.” And he said, “When they were getting ready for the benediction, I stood up, and I said to the preacher, ‘Sir, I have come here to give my heart to Jesus, and I want you to sing an invitation hymn and let me come forward and avow my faith in the blessed Lord.’”
Then, he turned to me, and he said, “Preacher, don’t you ever have a service and not give an invitation. You never know who may be there. You never know.” Well, I said to him, “Sir, I have never failed in all the years of my life, I have never failed to give an invitation.”
O God, what it means to love Jesus, and to be a Christian, and to follow in the way and will of our wonderful Lord! Now, let’s pray together.
Our Lord, these are precious moments. We love Thee; offer to Thee the highest, best of our lives. And in keeping with the example of these who have gone before us, Lord, may we be true to the faith. Thank You for the example of this godly missionary to China. And thank You for those who have followed after, especially, particularly and including some from our own dear church who this very day are representing Thee on a foreign field. May the Lord hallow and sanctify their commitment unto Thee. May many come to know Christ, who to know aright is life everlasting [John 6:40]. And Lord in that example, bless the assembly of Thy people, in this sanctuary today, give us souls; in Thy precious and saving name, amen.
In this moment when we stand to sing our appeal, our invitation is to you. It is to you. We will stand over here on this side, our ministers with the pastor, to give your heart to the Lord [Romans 10:3-13], to bring your family into the fellowship of our dear church [Hebrews 10:24-25], or answer any call of the Spirit of God pressed upon your soul, you come and stand with us. Make the decision now in your heart, and on the first note of the first stanza, when we sing our song, welcome; while we stand and while we sing.