The Moravians lived on purpose, ‘worship was to be expressed in practical service. Brethren [Moravian] spirituality embraced the whole of life and refused to recognise a spiritual/secular division.’ [iii]
They were Protestant, European and mission centered. From this devotion came‘…one of the most significant characteristics of Moravians: their hunger to undertake missions overseas to non-Christians. People who had already been exiled because of their faith threw themselves into fresh exile to spread the excitement which they had experienced in their own new lives.’ [iv]
On top of the many examples, the most notable is that of potter, Leonard Dober. In July, 1731, he and another Moravian, David Nitschmann, a carpenter, attempted to sell themselves into slavery because ‘the only realistic way to live and work among African slaves was to become a slave.’[v] The Moravians had raised the suspicions of the Dutch West India Company and would later cop the ire of plantation owners. Initially they found it difficult to travel overseas. It was only with the intervention of aristocrats that they find passage to where they felt that God had directed them to go.
They were lay ministers, untrained in theology and used their own skill sets for income, from which they began sharing the Word of God. More missionaries followed them, but the success of the mission was not without conflict:
‘Angered at the over 600 slaves who had come to faith in Christ; jealous at the baptism of these new believers and alarmed that the Moravians were teaching the slaves to read and write, the official Dutch pastor had managed to get the missionaries imprisoned on trumped-up charges. The Moravians had been in prison for three months, but far from impeding the work, their imprisonment had acted as a powerful testimony to the sincerity of their faith. The slaves gathered outside the prison window every evening to join the “St. Thomas three” in impromptu hymn singing, which annoyed the plantations owners even more.’[vi]
Moravian fire: ‘‘Where systematic theology had failed, the [lived and proclaimed] simple message of Christ crucified [and resurrected] had broken through’ [vii]
“May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward for His suffering.”
[i] Anderson, P. 2007 The Lord of The Ring: Uncovering The Secret Origins of Praying 24/7 Regal Books, (p.95)
[ii] ibid, p.95
[iii] ibid, p.96
[iv] MacCulloch, D. 2010 A History of Christianity Penguin Books, (p.746)
[v] Anderson, p. 112
[vi] ibid, p. 117
[vii] ibid, p.115
Music is my own.
Image: Nikolaus Zinzendorf preaching to many people from different nations. Public domain. Image art formatting is mine.