Legendary American missionary Lottie Moon is credited with helping lay the foundation of the modern Chinese Christian church. Two of the many congregations she founded in the late 1800s still exist in 2016, and the female pastor of one of them is descended from a convert of Moon. An annual offering in Moon’s name raises millions of dollars for the Southern Baptist church and helps fund missionary projects in developing countries around the world.
Moon, who was 32 when she gave up a life of wealth and privilege in Virginia, was one of the first single American women to evangelize, educate and convert women to Christianity in China. While Moon mainly taught women, one of her male converts was the famed evangelist, Pastor Li Shou-ting, credited with baptizing more than 10,000 people.
Moon’s letters to Baptist groups in the United States inspired the Women’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention to make an offering each Christmas, to help send more female missionaries to China. In 1888, Moon took her first vacation in 14 years, after the offering raised more than $3,000 and sent three new missionaries to China.
In 1918, the church renamed the annual offering, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, and in 2007 it provided half of the funding for thousands of Southern Baptist missionaries.