“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Count Zinzendorf & the Moravians: Basic Facts
- Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) was a German nobleman who gave refuge to a group of Moravian refugees. Together, they formed the community of Herrnhut (“the Lord’s Watch”), which launched the first great modern missions movement.
- His family and early schooling brought him under the influence of the Pietist movement, which emphasized a more heartfelt, emotive spirituality rather than the intellectual, dogma-driven faith of Lutheranism at the time.
- The early years at Herrnhut were marked by conflict and division, but under Zinzendorf’s leadership, the community came together to form a committed fellowship marked by love, constant prayer, and a passion for missions.
- Moravian missionaries were the first great Protestant missionary force, taking the Gospel to the West Indies, Greenland, the Native Americans, eastern Europe, and Africa.
Central Themes of Moravian Piety
Love for One Another - The Herrnhut community developed a system of small-group “families” within its church. In the Moravian settlements in North America, they included Native Americans and black slaves as equals.
Prayer - The Moravians launched a 24-7 prayer watch in their community which lasted for more than a hundred years.
Missions - Early Moravian missionaries went out with no resources, willing to sell themselves into slavery for the chance to bring the Gospel to the slaves of the West Indies.
“I have but one passion: it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.”
“I have loved Him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for Him. From now on I will do whatever He leads me to do.”
“Our method of proclaiming salvation is this: to point out to every heart the loving Lamb, who died for us, and although He was the Son of God, offered Himself for our sins... by the preaching of His blood, and of His love unto death, even the death of the cross, never, either in discourse or in argument, to digress even for a quarter of an hour from the loving Lamb: to name no virtue except in Him, and from Him and on His account, to preach no commandment except faith in Him; no other justification but that He atoned for us; no other happiness but to be near Him, to think of Him and do His pleasure; no other calamity but to displease Him; no other life but in Him.”
Moravian missionaries, on leaving Denmark to sail to the West Indies: “May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering!”
A Moravian Assessment of the Missions Movement 60 Years after Its Beginning: