November 29th, 1992 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-29-92 10:50 a.m.
You are now part of our precious congregation the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the senior pastor bringing the message on missions entitled Lottie Moon.
We have been honored in having Dr. Richard Land with us, the head of our ethical and moral committee, the Christian Life Commission of our Southern Baptist Convention. He will be bringing the message tonight at 6:30 o’clock on Jeremiah. And next Sunday our church will announce its victory in our tremendous stewardship appeal. You be sure, between now and then, all of us, in having our pledge cards turned in.
Our background text will be a word that Paul wrote about Phoebe, closing the book to the church at Rome.
I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea—
That is right by Corinth. It was the port city of Corinth—
that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.
Then, the next verse.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their lives for me. . .
Did you notice that? He puts the woman first. He does not say, “Greet Aquila and Priscilla,” but he says, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila for me” [Romans 16:3]. These women have a way of dominating whatever part of life they are a part of. And it was so here in the first Christian church, Phoebe [Romans 16:1], and Priscilla [Romans 16:3], servants of the Lord in the kingdom of God.
And so, we address a servant of the Lord who had such a tremendous influence in the missionary life and dedication of our Southern Baptist Convention, Lottie Moon. This is the beginning of the week of prayer for foreign missions and, as the announcement was made, our tremendous mission offering in support of their work among about one hundred fifty to one hundred sixty nations of the earth.
In 1950, the Foreign Mission Board sent me on a preaching mission around the world. I was gone four months. I can hardly believe now that I would take that length of time away from our pastoral work here in Dallas. But I did then. For four months I was gone, under the tutelage of the Foreign Mission Board, on a mission preaching around the world.
Two and one half months of that assignment I spent in holding crusades from the north of Japan clear to the south. And when I came to the city of Kobe I was the guest in the home of Robert Scherer, our Southern Baptist missionary there. And I asked him if I could be left alone on the porch of his house. This situation there, a mountain sweeps down to the bay in Kobe. And in that bay was anchored the Pacific-crossing ship, Manchuria. And while it was at anchor there, receiving a load of coal to cross the Pacific to San Francisco, in that ship, Lottie Moon died. Later I went to her grave in Crewe, Virginia. So I asked the missionary if I might be left alone. His home was on the side of the mountain, sweeping down into the bay. I asked if I might be left alone on the porch that I might think through the life of this wonderful missionary, Lottie Moon, Charlotte Moon.
In 1840, she was born in Albemarle County, in the heart of Virginia. It is not far from Monticello. The county seat of Albemarle is Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia. She belonged to a family of the Old South, aristocratic and well-to-do. In 1859, while she was a student in the Albemarle Female Institute in Charlottesville, the teacher in the school, Dr. John A. Broadus—one of the great men of all time, and later president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—John A. Broadus was a teacher in the school and also was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville. He won that young student, she was 18 years old, to the Lord and he baptized her into the church in Charlottesville.
In 1873, this girl Lottie Moon and her friend, Miss Safford, were two teachers in a girl’s school in Cartersville, Georgia. On that particular Sunday the pastor of the Baptist church in Cartersville preached a moving and dynamic sermon on missions, at the conclusion of which he made an appeal for volunteers. And those two teachers of the girl’s school in the town came forward and gave their lives to be missionaries under our Foreign Mission Board.
Lottie Moon was sent out that year, in 1873, to Shantung province in northern China and was settled in Tengchow, the central city in that northern province. And there she worked as a missionary for forty full years.
The life of Lottie Moon was spent in going around, around and around, through the villages, through the countryside, through the cities of northern Shantung bringing the gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ. A way into the interior, one hundred fifteen miles from Tengchow, was another city, P’ingtu. And God marvelously and aboundingly blessed her witness in P’ingtu. She won untold numbers of them to the faith in Christ, and built a glorious church with those P’ingtu Christians in northern China.
The personality of Lottie Moon is most amazing. She was very small and very tiny. She was under five feet in height. But she was dynamic and energetic and fearless. Reading about her in her work in China I can hardly believe such things could have happened. For example, they were at war, two vicious armies against each other in northern China. She had a mission on the other side. Those two armies ceased fighting in order to give time and leeway for her to walk through the battle lines to her assignment on the other side. I never heard such a thing as that in my life.
And another thing, typical; there is a big ancient, tall wall around Tengchow. And right next is a moat. Lottie Moon and a lady missionary were walking in that little path between the big heavy wall and the moat. And as they were walking, a Chinese soldier on a horse began meeting them coming from the other way, and it frightened the other Chinese woman missionary. And she said to her friend Lottie Moon, “We must move over.” And Lottie Moon said, “The moat is there. And the land, the little strip of dirt between the path and the moat, is slick and wet. We are not going to move over.” And Lottie Moon walked right face-to-face with that coming horse and the soldier on top. And just as she got to the horse she opened her umbrella, scared the horse to death! He jumped into the moat with the soldier. And while they were getting out of the water, she just walked unceremoniously right on down the driveway. I can’t believe such a character.
As you know, I majored in English in the university and I am very sensitive to language and its construction. When Lottie Moon came to her last illness, the doctor said to her as he put pillows around her, pillows around her to send her to the coast, to come back to America—the doctor said to Miss Lottie Moon, “Now, my dear Miss Lottie Moon, will you lay down?” And she said, “I will not lay down, but I will lie down at your pleasure.” You see, “lay” is a transitive verb. You lay your book on the table. And the sheep….you lay your book on the table. And you lay something down. But “lie” is an intransitive verb. You lie down. The sheep lie down. And she was very sensitive to that. I admire that in her.
In 1887, in 1887, Lottie Moon made an appeal for an organization of Southern Baptist women, and wrote it in an article in the foreign mission journal. And these are the words that the missionary wrote, quote:
I am convinced that one of the chief reasons our Southern Baptist women do so little for missions 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 see mission stations so poorly manned that missionaries break down from overwork, loneliness, and isolation. We shall continue to see promising fields un-entered 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 the fact and not as impractical idealism will make giving a principle in her life. She will lay aside sacredly not less one tenth of her income. 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.
That was the appeal for the organization of WMU. And in that same article she made another appeal. She also suggested that Southern Baptist women institute a week of prayer and offering, and that this be the week before Christmas. These are her words.
Need it be said why the week before Christmas is chosen? Is not the festive season when families and friends exchange gifts 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 the foreign mission journal in 1887. In 1888, the Southern Baptist Convention met in Baltimore, Maryland. And in that convention in Baltimore they organized the Women’s Missionary Union, and they elected Annie W. Armstrong of Maryland to be the first executive secretary. As you know, they call the offering for home missions the Annie W. Armstrong Offering. She was the first executive secretary.
And they made an appeal that that Christmas, the week before Christmas of 1888, they have an offering for foreign mission. The goal was two thousand dollars for the whole Southern Baptist Convention. The goal was two thousand dollars, and they triumphantly raised three thousand three hundred twenty-nine dollars and twenty-seven cents. That began that organization of WMU: Woman’s Missionary Union, and it began the Christmas offering that in after years was named for her, for Lottie Moon.
Now Dr. Land asked me, “Are you going to talk about Dr. Crawford H. Toy?” I said, “Yes, I am.” Possibly the most brilliant theologian that our Southern Baptist Zion has ever sired was named Crawford H. Toy, a man brilliant beyond description. He was at first a teacher in that Albemarle Female Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia. And one of his students, as I said a moment ago, was Lottie Moon. And Crawford Toy fell in love with Lottie Moon. And in the years that passed Lottie Moon decided that she would marry that young man who loved her. And he promised that in that marriage he would return to the Orient with her to be a missionary.
In the meantime, and in the passing of the time, Dr. Crawford H. Toy, this brilliant theologian, was invited to be a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, first in South Carolina, then in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the first one added to the original four professors that founded the seminary.
During those days—he taught ten years—during those days he went to Germany to study. And there in Germany he became familiar with higher criticism, the Tubingen school, dominated by Bauer and Wellhausen and Schleirmacher, men who made the Bible not from God but an effort of humanity, full of mistakes and errors and gross historical inaccuracies, contemptible about the deity of Christ, the miracles, the resurrection. He became a disciple of higher criticism.
So, two things came to pass. Lottie Moon came to America to marry him. And when she found what had happened in his life, she was shattered, and found herself unable to give up her Bible. And she left Dr. Toy and went back to China broken-hearted, never to return to America again.
A second thing from Toy’s embracing higher criticism: they dismissed him from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And Dr. James Pettigrew Boyce, the president of the seminary, and Dr. John A. Broadus, their illustrious professor and later president, those two men took Dr. Crawford H. Toy to the Broadway railway station in Louisville to put him on a train to send him away.
And as they stood there, Dr. Boyce, the president, put his left arm around the young professor, and raising his right arm to heaven with many, many tears, Dr. Boyce said, “Crawford, I would give this right arm if you were back as you were when you first came to us, believing the Bible as the Word of God” [2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21]. And Dr. Crawford H. Toy went to Harvard University, went into the Unitarian Church and, finally, never went to church at all.
And you know, people don’t get over things. When Lottie Moon died there was a trunk that belonged to her, and they placed that trunk on the ship to send it back to America with Lottie Moon. When she died they went through that trunk. And on the bottom of it were the letters that Dr. Toy had written to her and a copy of each volume he had written. You don’t get over things like that. They leave a mark in your life as long as you live.
So the days passed and the years passed, and after forty years in Tengchow and P’ingtu, Lottie Moon, in 1912, became grievously stricken, and in bed, unconscious. A doctor was immediately called and, when he walked into the room, in a minute, in a second, just looking at her, he knew what had happened. She was starving to death.
If her P’ingtu Christians, in a great famine, could not eat, she would not eat. If her P’ingtu Christians were starving, she would starve. She refused to eat, if they were hungry. And the Foreign Mission Board was in debt and continued in debt. And Lottie Moon said, “I will not live off of borrowed money.” And the money that was sent to Shanghai, to put in the bank for her, she gave away, and laid there unconscious.
Under doctor’s order she was sent back to America. Cynthia Miller, a missionary nurse whose furlough had come, was to accompany her. So, they sent her to Shanghai, where they placed her on the great ocean-going liner, the Manchuria. And Cynthia Miller watched over the little frail body of Lottie Moon on that ship. She weighed less than fifty pounds, starving herself to death.
While they were in Kobe, where the ship, I say, had to stop to receive a load of coal to cross the Pacific, while the ship was in anchor in Kobe, Cynthia Miller, looking upon the face of that frail little missionary, saw her begin to clasp and unclasp her hands in Chinese greeting. She began to say something. And the nurse placed her ear down to the lips of the frail missionary and heard her pronounce the names of Chinese Christians who had been dead almost half a century ago. And she was greeting them in Chinese fashion and calling their names. Actually, she was greeting her converts in heaven, calling their names, these that she had won to Christ years and years ago. And thus she went to be with the Lord.
By Japanese law her body had to be cremated. So Cynthia Miller took the ashes in a brown paper sack, landed in San Francisco, then to Virginia and buried them in the cemetery at Crewe, Virginia. As I said, I went to Crewe, Virginia. They’re still laying there, just to look. There is a marble stone, a marble stone; her name, Lottie Moon, the years 1840-1912, the sentence, “Southern Baptist Missionary to China,” and the sentence below, “Faithful unto Death.” That’s all.
In the church house is a large stained glass window, a memorial to her. There is a woman walking through a field of ripened green. In her left hand is a torch. In her right hand is a Bible, clasped close to her heart. And underneath the years 1840-1912, and the Great Commission, and underneath, “Our Beloved Missionary.”
In Tengchow, to show you the poverty of those people, for three years they took up an offering to buy a stone, and on the stone, they put her name, the years, the words, “Southern Baptist Missionary.” And underneath, the sentence, “The church at Tengchow will remember forever.”
May I close with—how much time do I have? How much? Good. May I close with a word about the influence of Lottie Moon? I was preaching in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. And I saw a man there—I was preaching in a girl’s school, and the president of the school was one of the most impressive men I ever looked upon, handsome and brilliant.
Well, I asked about him. He was a lawyer in the city of Recife, not a Christian, but so brilliant and so gifted that they asked him to take the life of Lottie Moon and to translate it into Portuguese, their language. And while this Alfredo Mendaise was reading and translating that life of Lottie Moon, he became converted. He became a Christian translating into Portuguese a story of her life. He became a teacher in the school. And immediately, because of his brilliance, they elected him president of that school in Recife; the influence of Lottie Moon.
And you heard Jody say the Southern Baptist Convention this year has a goal of eighty-four million dollars in the Christmas foreign mission offering, which is dedicated in memory of Lottie Moon. And our own goal is one hundred fifty thousand dollars. The influence of the life of that frail little woman has touched the millions and the millions of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. How we thank God for the grace of Jesus [2 Corinthians 8:9, 13:14], mediated through these that sometimes are so humble and so precious.