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Lottie's world (b)

 

Joe Westbury

Kneeling on hardwood floors and benches is a hallmark of the church where Lottie served for nearly 40 years. She was 32 years old when she set sail for China to serve as a missionary – an unheard of vocation for a single woman. The wives of China missionaries T.P. Crawford and Landrum Holmes had discovered an important reality; only women could reach Chinese women, and they needed help. Lottie responded with her life.

Related story: Lottie's World (a)

 

PENGLAI, China — Children no longer beg for scraps of food here as commonly as they did when an American missionary first set foot in the town known as Tengchow.

The neighborhood around the church where she served, like the country, has seen much change in the past 100 years. But through civil unrest and world wars, the brick cross on the front of the church has always offered hope and solace to those in need.

It was to this small town, now a bustling city, that a former Georgia resident gave her life in service to the Chinese people. Lottie Moon, then 32 years old, broke the traditional mold of an upscale 19th century woman when she turned down a marriage proposal and left her job, home, and family to follow God’s direction.

The church where she served still stands, and an obelisk dedicated in her memory in 1915 – three years after her death – testifies to her legacy. The white marker was nearly destroyed in the Cultural Revolution by students who chiseled the word “American” from its face and then toppled it from its pedestal.

The church was closed for 49 years when Communists came to power at the end of World War II. Only 20 members, all “silver hairs” the pastor explains, cautiously returned when a relaxed social order allowed the church to reopen in 1988.

Pastor Qin began leading a Bible study and preaching and was soon elected an elder in the church. In 1994, at 71 years of age, he was named pastor.

Today after 17 years of explosive growth the church numbers 3,600 members.

A large stone gate in this archival photo still stands across from the church as a prominent landmark in the neighborhood.

“God has blessed our faithfulness. Every year we baptize more than 300,” Qin says through a translator. “After nearly a half-century with no church, people are hungry for the Gospel.”

“We remember Lottie,” he says with a smile. “She was a wonderful woman who told us about Jesus.” In a corner of the churchyard, a damaged obelisk continues to tell the story of the storyteller.

Carved into the stone is this simple heading: “The Tengchow Church remembers forever.”

The following inscription explains how Lottie graduated from school, never married, and came to China and loved the people. The marker names the schools she started, tells of times she risked danger to be with the Christians, and describes her “as someone who opposed evil.”

Mostly, however, it speaks of her love as she helped the old, the sick, the children, the beggars, the expectant mothers, the widows, and anyone in distress. It even mentioned the fact her salary was not enough to live on and that she often lacked food and clothing. And then it adds that she never regretted her life.

Joe Westbury

Lottie’s church is dwarfed by the newer sanctuary, built in recent years through the generosity of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta. The modern structure, which was dedicated in 2002, seats 1,500. A two-hour Sunday morning service regularly attracts 1,000 to hear the Gospel. The smaller sanctuary where Lottie served is still in active use for smaller meetings.

The tribute closes with the fact that Lottie did not want to leave the people but she had to due to failing health, and when she left them, she died.

For more information on Lottie Moon visit www.ime.imb.org or read “The Story of Lottie Moon” by Cathy Butler and published by Woman’s Missionary Union (go to www.wmustore.com/ and type in Lottie Moon in the search box. The translation on the obelisk is based on information in the book.)

 

How you can be involved

For ways you can help reach the Chinese, check out volunteer opportunities such as teaching English, backpacking, and small-city adoption by sending an email to GoChina@imb.org.

For teaching opportunities email the East Asia office at ChinaEncounter@pobox.com or call (866) 879-0233. For more information about how the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering makes it possible for thousands of people to hear about Jesus for the first time, visit http://ime.imb.org.

Children and women rest from their begging. Lottie agonized over the suffering of the people who were starving to death through poverty and famine. In 1904 she pled for more money and resources but the mission board was heavily in debt and could send nothing.