Growing up as a Southern Baptist and continuing in that denomination for almost 70 years now, I thought I knew a lot about Lottie Moon. But, last week I learned she has a strong tie to Cartersville, Georgia and that the townspeople are very proud of their connection to her.
Within a few minutes of my time with a group of writers and tourism representatives in Cartersville, the person most closely tied to the town said, “Is anyone here a Baptist?” My quick response was, “Yes, I’m a life-long Southern Baptist, tried and true!” She then said, “So, I suppose you’ve heard of Lottie Moon.”
I absolutely have, and it pleases me to know that non-Baptists also acknowledge the great work she did.
Lottie (whose given name was Charlotte Digges Moon) was born in 1840 to wealthy parents. Their wealth allowed her to have a fine education which far exceeded most women of the day. She was actually one of the first women to receive a Master of Arts degree from a southern school. She exhibited a real flair for languages and knew Latin, Greek, French, Spanish and Italian, which certainly helped her later when she needed to become fluent in Chinese.
Lottie is most noted for the nearly 40 years she served in China as a single, female missionary, teaching, evangelizing and so devoting herself to the people that she often starved herself in order to give her own food to them during times of famine. She died on Christmas Eve in 1912, weighing only 50 pounds because of this starvation.
Her connection to Cartersville, Georgia was short but significant. She and a friend, Anna Safford, moved there and opened the Cartersville Female High School in 1871. She also contributed to the ministry of First Baptist Church in Cartersville by helping poor families. It was in Cartersville that she acknowledged God’s call on her life, succeeded in being appointed as a missionary by the Baptist convention and left for China in 1873. Cartersville has a plaque acknowledging her importance on the Fence of Fame near the town’s historic depot, a book about her life is for sale in the Bartow History Museum, and there are displays at the First Baptist Church that I am eager to return and see. It was, after all, that church which first gathered offerings with her name attached to support her work in China.
It is very fitting that the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual offering to support international missionaries is named for Lottie Moon. My husband and I were supported by this very offering during our four years in Ecuador. Approximately 5000 missionaries are sharing the Gospel in foreign countries each year thanks to this offering.
This tiny woman — 4′ 3″ tall — made a huge difference when she was alive and still inspires us today.
She believed these verses and followed the command of Jesus —
Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”