Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (The Message)
My grandmother spent much of her life investing in the people around her. She lived into her nineties, and up until the last few years of her life sewed, often by hand, layettes (blankets, sleepers and gowns) for the “welfare babies” of our community. Not only did we share a love for handcrafts, books and writing, but we also had a love for theater and a dramatic streak. Every year at Christmas, my grandmother would don a Victorian era dress and impersonate Lottie Moon in her church Christmas play. I loved that costume complete with bonnet and bustle and on special occasions would be allowed to play dress up in it. Perhaps, that is where my interest in historical reenactments began! Lottie Moon, who was born 170 years ago today was a Baptist missionary in China from 1873-1912. She was raised in Virginia and educated in the finest schools. She was one of the first women in that area to receive a Master’s Degree and upon her graduation was fluent in six languages, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, French and Latin. Later, she added Chinese to that list. She went to China in a time where any white missionaries, much less a single women, were not easily accepted in China. She began her work in a town called Dengzhou teaching in schools for girls despite opposition from a culture that did not think that girls could be educated. Lottie Moon even wrote of one father who said he would just as soon send the family cow as his daughter. He thought that the cow would learn faster. After a time, Lottie moved farther from the city to the inland portions of China, areas not previously evangelized by Christians. She believed that she could reach more people there, particularly among the women who would not open their homes or their hearts to foreign men. With only a few short visits back to the United States during the forty years she worked in China, Lottie called China home and the Chinese people her people. She survived the Boxer Rebellion and the terrible persuasion of Christians, but it was the famine of the early 1910s, that ultimately cost Lottie her life. She quit eating in order to share her food with the Chinese people she loved. At her death on Christmas Eve 1912 at age 72, she only weighted 50 pounds. Lottie Moon is quoted as saying, “I would I had a thousand lives that I might give them to … China!” During December, the month of both Lottie Moon’s birth and death, Southern Baptists all over the world give to an offering supporting international missions in her name. Lottie Moon lives on in the work that she did for Christ during her lifetime. So does my grandmother. We don’t have to be a missionary living on the other side of the world to make an impact on someone. We can be that light in our community as well. Who are you impacting today?