May 02, 2010


In 1735 work commenced in Surinam. When the missionaries attempted to preach to the slaves as they had done in the West Indies, they were opposed by both planters and government officials. Undeterred they moved about a hundred miles into the jungle and settled in the heart of Indian country. Many missionaries died of fever, it became known as 'the country of death,' yet the work continued and there are now some 56,000 connected with the Moravian Church.


In 1737 an appeal was received in Herrnhut to send missionaries to South Africa where the Hottentots, Kaffirs and Bushmen were for the most part ignorant of Christianity. George Schmidt, one who had suffered imprisonment in Moravia for his faith, was chosen to go. At first he made little progress, but when he did have some success and began to baptise his converts, the Dutch State Church challenged the legality of his work and ordination and in 1744 he had to leave. It was nearly 50 years later before the mission was restarted. The work has grown and the South African branch of our Church now has a membership of some 99,000.

From Herrnhut men and women went to remote places of the world:

1732 to St. Thomas in the West Indies:

1733 Greenland:

1734 Lapland and Georgia:

1735 Surinam:

1736 Africa's Guinea Coast:

1737 South Africa:

1738 Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter: 1739 Algeria:

1740 N. American Indians; Ceylon; Romania; Constantinople.

Between 1732 and 1742 more than 70 men and women from a community of not more than 600 had answered the call to mission service, many knowing that they were going to take the place of those who had died of fever and other tropical diseases, and that they might well suffer the same fate. Not all projects were successful, but failure never detracted from the vision.