August 29, 2010

Most of us remember the words from the film Mission Impossible ‘Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is…’. This is the story of a group of believers within a small church in Germany who heard the commission of the Lord Jesus Christ to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. They accepted His mission and went.


In 1732, the Moravian congregation in Herrnhut, Saxony was about 300 strong and sent out their first missionaries to the West Indies. Within fifteen years, the Moravian church had sent out hundreds of missionaries and had established churches on every continent. These missionary endeavours led to the salvation of many who had never before heard the gospel which shamed and inspired the Protestant church.

The early years of the Herrnhut settlement saw a rapid increase in the number of settlers, both Moravian refugees and Germans dissatisfied with the Lutheran Church. Disunity initially threatened to undermine this fledgling church. However, on 13 August 1727, during a service at the local church, the congregation felt a powerful awareness of God’s presence. The impact was profound. Not only were differences put aside, but the believers in Herrnhut became known for their holy and disciplined lives, their love of others and their desire to take the gospel to the lost.

Count Nicholas Zinzendorf urged the Moravian believers to consider mission overseas and on 11 February 1728 a group of single men covenanted that they would respond to God’s call to the mission field when it came. They started to study medicine, geography and languages so that they would be ready for that call. It was to come just three years later. In 1731, while attending the coronation of the King of Denmark, Count Nicholas met a converted slave from the West Indies, Anthony Ulrich. Anthony told the Count of the plight of the slaves.

Count Nicholas Zinzendorf was deeply moved and that very day set off back to Herrnhut taking Anthony with him. He arrived at two in the morning to find a number of the believers in a prayer meeting.  He told the Moravians Anthony’s story and two young believers, Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann, volunteered to go as missionaries to work amongst the slaves on St Thomas in the West Indies, even though they believed the mission would require them to become slave themselves. These men laboured tirelessly, speaking of freedom in Christ to those in human bondage. Within fifty years, the Moravians had established churches in St Thomas, St Croix, St John’s, Barbados, Antigua and St Kitts, and over 13,000 converts were baptised.  Can this be done again? Yes, for the Spirit of God, takes the word of God and makes a child of God.