One day an old farmer in a straw hat and overalls approached a veteran Baptist preacher from the neighboring country church. He poised the following inquiry: “If you were not a Baptist, what denomi-nation or church would you be a part of…Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, or Presby-terian? The preacher pondered for quite awhile, then lowered his spectacles and looked his neighbor in the eye and said, “Well, if I wasn’t a Baptist I guess I would be….ASHAMED!”
I must confess I feel the same way down deep inside, although I am quite confi-dent that we are not the only ones who are going to be in heaven. In fact, I sus-pect one of the reasons God created Bap-tists is because He has a wonderful sense of humor. For instance, I came across this humorous take off on Jeff Foxworthy’s routine “You might be a red-neck if…” Entitled, “You might be a Southern Baptist if….if you believe the power of God rests in the back three rows of the auditorium…if you think Jesus actually used Welch’s grape juice and saltine crackers at the Last Supper…if you com-plain the preacher only works one day of the week and on that day he works too long….if you wonder when Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong will ever get paid off!”
Speaking of Lottie Moon, sadly, the re-markable story of this pioneer mission giant has been lost through the years. I fear most Southern Baptists don’t re-member or have ever known the great heritage Lottie Moon passed on to us.
Lottie Moon was born in the deep South and grew to a height of four feet and three inches. Although tiny in stature, she had a heart as big as China. She grew up in an affluent family and had the oppor-tunity to receive a college education which was quite uncommon in her day. This education opened many doors in her future.
During her college days, Lottie gave her heart and life to Jesus under the preaching of John Broadus, one of the founders of the Southern Baptist Seminary. She grew in her faith and sensed God’s call to foreign missions with a particular burden for China. In 1873, she boarded a ship and began her journey to her new homeland as a Southern Baptist missionary.
Upon arriving in China, she took on the task of being a teacher, first for boys, and then for girls which was quite controversial among the Chinese who held to ancient traditions. However, Lottie knew instinctively God wanted these young women to know more of life than allowed under Chinese rule.
After years of teaching, Lottie became dis-satisfied with simply teaching and moved inland to be an “evangelist.” She sought to find creative and powerful ways to get the gospel to the Chinese people. In an effort to fit in and to contextualize the gospel, Lottie took on traditional Chinese dress, and since she was already “tiny” she fit in quite well.
During her career, Lottie preached the gos-pel during the days of the Sino-Japanese War (1894), Boxer Rebellion (1900), and the Chinese Nationalists revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1911). During these hard times she suffered with her people—even to the point of starvation. In fact, shortly before her death, she had been reduced to nothing more than skin and bones and weighed only fifty pounds. The Foreign Mission Board demanded that she make her way home, but she never made it. Lottie Moon died on Christmas Eve 1912 in the harbor of Kobe, Japan.
What a remarkable tiny, little woman with a big heart! This Christmas when you give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, you will be helping to support nearly five thou-sand missionaries who have left home and family to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, just like Lottie. I hope you can now see why Lottie Moon inspires us to be generous every Christmas!