CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — She is a petite spitfire with a heart
for missions. She teaches Sunday School at Hardware Baptist Church in
Charlottesville, Va., where she encourages members to support missionaries who
tell people about Jesus in other countries.
Those who know the life story of Lottie Moon may think this
is a description of her, but it also describes Frances Blair.
For years, the 80-year-old has been working to keep Moon’s
legacy alive in the white, wood-paneled church where the legendary missionary
taught Sunday School before she moved to China.
Blair and Moon are kindred spirits of sorts. Moon died on
her way home from China in 1912 — 17 years before Blair was born — yet Blair
talks about Moon as if she were a close friend.
“Somebody told me the other day, ‘You talk about her like
you knew her personally.’ And I said, ‘No, but it just touched my heart, the
things that I have read about this lady and the sacrifice she made for her God
“Come into God’s house!” said Blair, as she proudly opened
the doors of Hardware Baptist.
The history of the 207-year-old church is evidenced in its
slave balcony and spittoons from the days when slaves came to church with their
masters and country church services were thought to be too long to go without
A cabinet in the church foyer displays Lottie Moon
memorabilia, including yellowed photographs.
Despite their upbringings in church, both Moon and Blair
were indifferent to God until they reached adulthood. Moon rebelled against
Christianity until she was in college. In December 1858, she dedicated her life
Blair was baptized at age 9 after a fire and brimstone message, but
it wasn’t until she heard the truth presented to her in an unlikely place — a
bar stool in a tavern — that Jesus became more than just a name.
After that she
began to take an active role in the church.
Blair has been the cornerstone of the missions program at
Hardware Baptist and served as its WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union) director for
But there’s been no WMU program at Hardware since Blair stepped
down a few years ago. Most of Hardware’s 25-30 members are elderly.
attend services regularly.
Still, Blair has kept the work of their famous congregant at
the forefront and championed giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for
Women in the church had mentored Blair and encouraged her to
be an advocate for missions.
Blair worries that busyness and distractions have caused
some people to neglect nurturing the next generation to have a love for
missions like Lottie Moon did.
“Jesus said go to all the world — all the world — not just
here or next door but to the whole world,” Blair said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Anderson is a writer for the IMB. Every
penny given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is used to support more than
5,500 Southern Baptist missionaries as they share the gospel overseas. This
year’s offering goal is $175 million. The 2009 Lottie Moon offering theme was
“Who’s Missing, Whose Mission?” It focuses on overcoming barriers to hearing
and accepting the Gospel in various parts of the world and the mission that the
Great Commission gives all Christians to “go and make disciples of all
nations.” For resources about the offering, go to imb.org/offering.)