In her life as a missionary in China, Lottie Moon stood barely more than four feet tall. In death, she weighed about 50 pounds. Her impact on the history of missions, however, has been enormous.

Born into wealth and privilege on a Virginia plantation in 1840, Moon earned one of the first master's degrees awarded to a woman in the southern United States. A Baptist educator called her the "most cultivated woman" he had ever known. She entered college as a skeptic, but was converted in December 1858. She gained success running schools in Kentucky and Georgia. Then, "clear as a bell," she heard God's call to serve in China.

A Woman's Work

Moon began her career as a missionary in China in 1873. She was among the first of a long line of single women appointed by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. She settled on the coast of Shandong Province in a city known then as Tengchow (now called Penglai), with a population of about 80,000.

She was at the forefront of developing and expanding the concept of "women's work." She was among the first to make a science of evangelizing and educating women and girls, which both Chinese and Americans tended to think was unwise. From the time of her calling until her death, her primary mission was to root Jesus Christ in the homes of China by visiting and teaching women. In 1878, she started a boarding school for young girls, the first of many schools for Chinese girls and boys she was to establish. Though Chinese people tended to think of missionaries as "foreign devils," she loved the Chinese and approached them as friends.

Moon regularly wrote to periodicals and mission leaders in America urging Christians to a life of missionary service, and calling on the churches to support missions through ...

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