During the Tuesday morning session of the recent annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, we were quite surprised to see three well-dressed ladies from the previous century mingling with the crowd. Each lady was quite approachable and agreed to share a little of her story to enlighten us concerning her love for missions.
Many may not realize that these three ladies were contemporaries, the eldest and youngest being separated by a span of 20 years. Charlotte Digges Moon was born Dec. 12, 1840, in Virginia. Annie Armstrong was born on July 11, 1850, in Maryland, and Dixie Jackson was born May 6, 1860, in Louisiana.
Miss Moon became a believer while in high school. God used her older sister, Orianna, to introduce her to Jesus. Lottie went on to become one of the few women of her day to earn a Master of Arts degree. After working as the co-principal of Cartersville Female Academy, she clearly heard the call to go to China. In September 1873 she boarded a boat and set sail for China accompanied by her sister, Edmonia.
Moon’s work in China involved teaching, caring for children, and advocating for young women. Because she looked different, many were afraid of her, so she baked cookies to gain their trust (see her recipe below). One only had to read Miss Moon’s letters to see her love for the Chinese people but also to learn the hardships of being a missionary there. The purpose of these letters was to spur churches back home to give financially to provide for additional mission work in China.
In God’s providence, a lady named Annie Armstrong was the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) president in Maryland when one of Moon’s letters was published in 1887. The following year in December, Ms. Armstrong personally wrote letters to promote an offering that brought in just over $3,000. Thus, began the annual Christmas offering that was named after Lottie Moon in 1918.
While Miss Moon was ministering and sharing her faith in China, Ms. Armstrong was advocating for immigrants and the sick and poor here in North America. At the same time, Mrs. Dixie Jackson was raising a family and actively serving at Baptist churches in Arkansas.
Two years after becoming a widow at age 52, Mrs. Jackson was asked to become the leader of Arkansas WMU where she was diligent in training leaders and encouraging young women to be involved in missions. She was instrumental in establishing an annual season of prayer for Arkansas missions, then asking that a special offering be taken to enhance the mission work being done in the state. Six years after Mrs. Jackson’s death the annual state missions offering and week of prayer were named in her honor.
Collectively, these three ladies had and are still having an immeasurable eternal impact for the Kingdom.
We want to thank Marty Davis (Lottie), Margaret Little (Dixie) and Patsy Sugg (Annie) for bringing these missions giants to life to continue to inspire Arkansas Baptists to pray, give, and go.
For more information about each of these ladies, click on the links below.
Why the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is Collected at Christmas.
The story of Mrs. Dixie Jackson
Remembering a call to serve: Annie Armstrong
Miss Lottie’s Tea Cake recipe (adapted for today’s cooks)
2 cups of flour
½ cup butter (softened)
1 heaping cup sugar
1 well-beaten egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Cream the butter and sugar together, add the egg and mix well. Add flour and cream. Dust cutting board with flour, roll the dough very thin. Cut cookies with a round cookie cutter and place on a buttered or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 475 degrees for approximately 5 minutes.