Lottie Moon

Lottie Moon—the namesake of Southern Baptists’ international missions offering—has become a legend. But in her time, Lottie was anything but an untouchable hero. In fact, she was like today's missionaries. She labored tirelessly so her people group could know Jesus.

  A photo of Lottie Moon

Well over 100 years ago, a single missionary named Lottie Moon, while serving in China, began writing letters challenging the American church to send and support more workers to go there. After her death on the field, her challenge was heeded in the formalization of an offering in her name. Even if you’re not a Southern Baptist who has given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, her life is a reminder of why we must give to send and support missionaries serving among unreached peoples in unreached places. Full Article

Well over one hundred years ago, a single missionary named Lottie Moon, serving in China, began writing letters challenging the church back here to send and support more workers to go there. After her death on the field, her challenge was heeded in the formalization of an offering in her name. Even if you’re not a Southern Baptist who has given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, her life is a reminder of why we must give to send and support missionaries serving among unreached peoples in unreached places.

What was her pre-missionary life like?

Born Charlotte Digges Moon, December 12, 1840, in Albemarle County, Virginia. Lottie rebelled against Christianity until she was in college. In December 1858, she dedicated her life to Christ and was baptized at First Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lottie attended Albemarle Female Institute, female counterpart to the University of Virginia. In 1861, she was one of the first women in the South to receive a master’s degree. She stayed close to home during the Civil War but eventually taught school in Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia.

Tell me about her missionary work?

Edmonia Moon, Lottie’s sister, was appointed to Tengchow, China, in 1872. The following year, Lottie was appointed and joined her sister there. Lottie served 39 years as a missionary, mostly in China’s Shantung province. She taught in a girls’ school and often made trips into China’s interior to share the good news with women and girls.

Lottie Moon was passionate about people knowing Christ. She didn’t hesitate to speak her mind.
Today’s China is a world of rapid change. It’s home to 1.4 billion individuals – one-fifth of the world’s population. Village dwellers flock to trendy megacities with exploding populations. And China holds its own in the world’s economy. It’s very different from the vast farmland Lottie Moon entered in the 1800s. But one thing hasn’t changed: China’s need for a Savior.

Tell me about her mission?

When she set sail for China, Lottie was 32 years old. She had turned down a marriage proposal and left her job, home and family to follow God’s lead. Her path wasn’t typical for an educated woman from a wealthy Southern family. God had gripped her with the Chinese peoples’ need for a Savior.

For 39 years Lottie labored, chiefly in Tengchow and P’ingtu. People feared and rejected her, but she refused to leave. The aroma of fresh-baked cookies drew people to her house. She adopted traditional Chinese dress, and she learned China’s language and customs. Lottie didn’t just serve the people of China; she identified with them. Many eventually accepted her. And some accepted her Savior.

What was her vision?

Lottie wrote letters home detailing China’s hunger for truth and the struggle of so few missionaries taking the gospel to the 472 million Chinese in her day. She also shared the urgent need for more workers and for Southern Baptists to support them through prayer and giving.

She once wrote home to the Foreign Mission Board, “Please say to the [new] missionaries they are coming to a life of hardship, responsibility and constant self-denial.”

Disease, turmoil and lack of co-workers threatened to undo Lottie’s work. But she gave herself completely to God, helping lay the foundation of what would become the modern Chinese church, one of the fastest-growing Christian movements in the world. Lottie Moon died at 72 — ill and in declining health after decades ministering to her beloved Chinese. But her legacy lives on. And today, when gifts aren’t growing as quickly as the number of workers God is calling to the field, her call for sacrificial giving rings with more urgency than ever.

What are her letters home?

Lottie frequently sent letters back home detailing Chinese culture, missionary life and the physical and spiritual needs of the Chinese people. Additionally, she challenged Southern Baptists to go to China or give so that others could go. By 1888, Southern Baptist women had organized and helped collect $3,315 to send workers needed in China.

What is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering?

In 1918, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) named the annual Christmas offering for international missions after the woman who had urged them to start it.

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"Why should we not ... do something that will prove that we are really in earnest in claiming to be followers of him who, though he was rich, for our sake became poor?"

Lottie Moon, Sept. 15, 1887, Tungchow
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Lottie Moon

Throughout her career, Lottie Moon wrote letters home urging Southern Baptists toward greater missions involvement and support. One of those letters triggered Southern Baptists’ first Christmas offering for international missions—enough to send three new missionaries to China.

Read the “letter that started it all,” written by Lottie on September 15, 1887.

Find a sampling of other letters written by Lottie during 1873–1912 as she planted her life in China.

Products on the life of Lottie Moon

Learn about Southern Baptists’ most-celebrated missionary and the namesake of the offering that sends missionaries to the field. These popular products are sized for display in foyers or for use as bulletin inserts:

Lottie’s Tea Cake Recipe

As a way to earn the trust of the people, Lottie Moon made tea cakes for the children in her village in China. She would then be invited into homes where she could share the gospel with their mothers. The children began calling Lottie “the cookie lady.”

Plain Tea Cake (As made by Lottie Moon)

  • 3 teacups of sugar
  • 1 teacup of butter
  • 1 teacup of sour milk
  • 4 pints flour
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon of soda
  • Flavor to taste, roll thin, bake in a quick oven.

Adapted recipe:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 heaping cup of sugar
  • 1 well-beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon cream

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and cream. Dust a board with flour. Roll the dough very thin. Cut cookies with a round cookie cutter. Place on a buttered or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 475 degrees for about 5 minutes.