Amy Whitfield first heard the name Lottie Moon as a child, and she learned more about Lottie’s life and ministry over the years, thanks, in part, to the annual missions offering that bears her name.
Lottie’s life became a research interest for Whitfield, who’s worked for Southern Baptist Convention entities for 20 years. So when the opportunity to write a children’s book on Lottie Moon presented itself, Whitfield jumped at the chance.
RELATED: Check out more stories about Lottie Moon’s impact on international missions here.
Whitfield’s book, “Lottie Moon: The Girl Who Reached the World,” released in October, and it tells the story of how Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon left behind all she knew and dedicated her life to taking the gospel to China.
The biographical picture book is narrated by a friendly panda and offers a unique view at what living for God can look like. The book is the third in the “Here I Am!” biography series designed for children ages 4-8, which highlights fascinating and faithful Christians in history. The first two books in the series chronicle the lives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and C.S. Lewis.
The Biblical Recorder caught up with Whitfield — a Tennessee native who now calls North Carolina home — shortly after her book’s release to talk about Lottie’s life and legacy, how Lottie has impacted Whitfield’s own life and ministry, what it was like to write a children’s book, and more.
Here are responses to questions we asked Whitfield, which have been lightly edited for length and clarity in some places.
Q. Why did you write this book?
Whitfield: When I learned about the “Here I Am!” series from B&H Kids, the opportunity to tell Lottie’s story to a new generation was something I could not walk away from. The impact of her life and ministry is something we can still tangibly see today, and I jumped at the chance to tell it.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for telling Lottie Moon’s story as a children’s book?
Whitfield: This project was envisioned by the team at B&H Kids to highlight Christians in history. Lottie’s story followed Dietrich Bonhoeffer and C.S. Lewis in the series. All of them are people that children need to know, and I was thrilled to be able to introduce them to Lottie.
Q: When do you first remember hearing about Lottie Moon, and how did her story inspire you?
Whitfield: I actually didn’t grow up Southern Baptist, but I had many connections to Southern Baptist life. As a child, I can remember talking with my aunt one day around the Sunday dinner table. She was telling me about her job with the Baptist Sunday School Board (now Lifeway Christian Resources), and one of the tasks she had at the time was to produce and distribute the offering envelopes for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
I can remember her voice saying Lottie’s name, but she was referring to a woman that I knew nothing about. When I later became a member of a Southern Baptist church, I started giving to that same offering, and I learned her story in parts over the next several years. With each part that I learned, I was inspired by how she used her gifts to inspire others to work together for missions.
Q: Did you learn anything new or interesting about Lottie in writing this book?
Whitfield: I had already read a lot about her over the years, but my research did give me new insights into her life. I enjoyed focusing on the power of her words through her letters, and how her ability to mobilize people to cooperate together is still producing one of the great missionary funding mechanisms today.
Q: You’ve written or contributed to several books, and much of your own ministry has involved serving in various communications roles with Southern Baptist entities and churches. How was writing a children’s book different from some of the other writing projects you’ve been involved with?
Whitfield: It was so intimidating! Trying to tell an entire life story in less than 750 words required a different skill set than I have had to use previously in writing. I had to prioritize what was most important to include, and think of how to give details in the most concise way possible. It was also so different working with an illustrator. The ability for pictures to enhance the words opened up a whole new world of communication for me.
Q: Why is it important for children to hear stories about individuals like Lottie Moon and others who have gone before us?
Whitfield: It’s important for children and adults alike to know the stories of people who have gone before us. We can see examples of goodness, learn from mistakes, and witness the beauty and faithfulness of the Lord working through ordinary people.
Q: Lottie Moon was greatly used by God, and her legacy has impacted generations. Most Southern Baptists are familiar with the annual offering for international missions that’s named in her honor and received this time of the year. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Whitfield: I hope that readers will see that Lottie was just a regular girl who was changed by the gospel, and she lived the rest of her life out of that reality. Everything she did was to share the good news of Christ. We can often put her on a pedestal, but we have the same gift of salvation that she did, and we can live a life on mission just like she did.
Q: How did Lottie rally support for missions, and how is her impact still being felt today?
Whitfield: In a world without all of the technological capabilities that we have today, Lottie Moon harnessed the power of words through her letters. She wrote all the time – letters to individuals that advocated for the needs on the mission field, letters to the churches that stirred a passion for the lost, and letters to Southern Baptist women inspiring them to mobilize for cooperation to send resources around the world.
It amazes me that this offering that raises millions of dollars for missions every year started with one woman’s idea and her ability to inspire others to come together. In a world that is increasingly divided, it’s quite a refreshing story.