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sdidde
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Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 26
Milpitas, CA, USA

 The Moravian slaves

Does anyone know the result of the Moravian brothers who sold themselves to slavery in order to evangelize the West Indies islands? I had heard of it first in the sermon "Ten Shekels and a shirt", by Paris Reidhead. I heard it later on, in other sermons as well, but I could not find any further details of this endeavor.


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Stephen

 2007/10/25 0:57Profile
iansmith
Member



Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 Re: The Moravian slaves

One website identifies these two men as: John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman.

Quote:
John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman are names you may not readily recognize. John was a potter and David a carpenter. Ordinary occupations. Extraordinary men. They are men who left the security of their jobs and families in Copenhagen to become the first Moravian missionaries in 1732.

John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman are unsung heroes.

Well almost. Their final words as they departed on their mission are now lyrics in a powerful new Cindy Ruakere song; “Receive”.

These men were not going on a nice short term mission to the Caribbean, or even Africa or China but they sold themselves into slavery to answer the call 'come and minister the gospel to us'. It gives new meaning to the phrase “sold out for Christ”. They became slaves in order to have the opportunity to reach the slaves of the West Indies for their Lord. Their life’s purpose was to follow the Lamb who had given His life for them and for all the souls of the world. Their mission statement was “Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him.”

One of the men left his wife and children begging on the wharf for him to reconsider and stay. But the call and heart of God for these slaves in the West Indies was even greater than the pull of home. As the ship pulled away from the docks the men lifted a cry, "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering” which became the resonating heartbeat of the Moravian Missions movement.

The men felt their sacrifice paled in comparison to the sacrifice of their Saviour. They loved Jesus with everything they were and did, and desired to walk in obedience, knowing that the God who called them is the God who gives the courage, grace and anointing for the task. Even to spend a life of hard toil, with meager provisions and hardship. They experienced and modeled the truth of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The Moravian Movement, that sent out David and John, was founded by Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (born in 1720), in the early 1720’s. He initially founded it as a refuge for Christians in a papist Europe, but soon it attracted those with a desire for intimacy with God and a zeal for prayer and evangelism.

In May 1727, Count Zinzendorf and the leaders of the community felt God calling them to prayer at a deeper level. They committed themselves to praying round the clock, beginning a 24/7 prayer meeting that lasted over100 years involving not only the adults but the children of the movement. In August of that the minister at the Sunday morning service was “overwhelmed by the wonderful and irresistible power of the Lord.” A move of God broke out, with people testifying that “hardly knew whether they belonged to earth or had already gone to heaven. We saw the hand of God and were all baptized with his Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst.” Over 10 years later John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church visited the community where the revival was still taking place. He experienced a powerful encounter with God that was to shape his own personal relationship with God and his ministry.

It was in this environment and atmosphere that David and John grew in hunger of God, His Word and His Lost. They epitomized the Count’s personal life motto; “I have one passion: It is Jesus! Jesus Only!” They knew that the secret to been able to sell themselves into slavery in order to minister to their fellow slaves was to be totally in love with their Lord. With their eyes upon Him they could lay their lives down and carry the cross of slavery.

These two men birthed a missions movement, not by persuading men to “Go” via flashy display boards, brochures and messages, but David and John, and the men that followed their example, lived the message and just did it. They lived the “Go”. John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman inspired their generation, and generations to come to lay down their lives for The Lamb. (text from [url=http://emancipationofthefreed.blogspot.com/2007/01/john-leonard-dober-and-david-nitschman.html] here [/url])



The Moravian movement is considered by many to be the first and most dramatic protestant missions movement in history. Hundreds of Moravians went to the ends of the world, often packing their meager possessions into coffins instead of suit cases, because they never expected to see their homes again.

Hundreds of Moravian missionaries went out, and the vast majority of them died of tropical diseases within the first couple of years. The attrition rate for these young men and women was incredibly high.

But they were seeds that were dropped into the earth, for others to water and for God to reap a harvest.

Many Moravians didn't see results, but their sacrifice led to other missionaries going in later generations.

Nicolaus Zensendorf - the man God used to lead the Moravian movement.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Ludwig_Zinzendorf

The Moravian Church
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravian_Church


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Ian Smith

 2007/10/25 10:17Profile
iansmith
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Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 Re:

[b]“Even if no one should be benefited, and no fruits follow my efforts, yet I will go, for I must obey my Savior's call.”[/b]

– Leonard Dober


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Ian Smith

 2007/10/25 10:20Profile
ginnyrose
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Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7464
Mississippi

 Re:

I have heard of this story before, but this is the first time I have read that one of these men was married with a wife and children. Somehow leaving his family behind like this does not sit right with me. How were they being provided for in his absense? Were his own little ones less important then the pagans across the sea? Does 1Tim. 5:8 apply here? (1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.) Well, ah reckon, this is not my call to make....this belongs to God, but it does raise some serious questions in my mind.

Does anyone know the answer to any of my questions? .... especially the one of how his family was being provided for..

ginnyrose


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Sandra Miller

 2007/10/25 15:46Profile
iansmith
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Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 Re:

The Moravian Christians lived on the estate of Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a wealthy landowner in what is now Germany. He provided for the needs of many of the Moravian Christians who lived on his land -I dare say because of the sacrifice of these men their families would be taken care of by the community and by teh Count.

As for the sacrifice these men made, I believe it is biblical, because by taking their family they certainly would have been sentencing them to death. They loved Jesus, so they obeyed His call to GO, and they loved their family so they knew not to take them with.

I can't help but thinking about the first chapter of Pilgrim's Progress. These men lived out the alegory in a very real sense.


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Ian Smith

 2007/10/25 16:21Profile
sdidde
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Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 26
Milpitas, CA, USA

 Re:

Thank you very much for the informative reply. I am somewhat regular to this site but do not quite participate in the discussions. It's nice to know a bit more about the brothers who obeyed God's calling to go the West Indies. I think the fruit of their labor is quite evident in the nations they had set out to evangelize. There are many churches in that land and there are many true believers today.
Ginnyrose posed a very valid question about the family responsibilities. While it's true that family responsibility is also God given, He alone can rearrange the priorities.
We have some examples from the scriptures:
Mat 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
Mat 4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
James and John left their father and followed Jesus, upon His calling. According to the tradition, it was their responsibility to take care of their father in his old age. I think Timothy also was in a similar situation. If we seek His kingdom first, then all other needs will be taken care of, according to Matt 6:31-32
In Him,
Stephen


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Stephen

 2008/1/8 3:54Profile
iansmith
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Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 The Most Worthy Life

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

-Matt 10:37-39

Oswald Chambers often talks about how foolish those who follow the leading of the spirit appear, even to those in the church. By our humanistic standards these men were horrible fathers and husbands, but in God's Kingdom they are counted worthy of righteousness for their suffering. The took up a heavy cross and dragged it half way around the world to try to save a few men crouching in darkness.

There is great nobility in that.


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Ian Smith

 2008/1/8 10:30Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: The Moravian slaves

Ian, thank you for this. Read it earlier at lunch today and like Ginny was also taken with the brother who had left his wife and children behind ... It really brought a great and profound tension. My thoughts also traced back to what it must have been like for him ... some things are just too difficult to say anything to, just to recognize the perplexities and ... anguish.

Did follow through on the original link and came across this from a very nice blog that someone had pointed to and where some of this may have been derived, it seems to tell the rest of the story;

[b]Pack Your Headstone![/b]

John Leonard Doper and David Nitschman are names you may not readily recognize. John was a potter and David a carpenter. Ordinary occupations, extraordinary men. They left the security of their jobs and families in Copenhagen to become the first Moravian missionaries in 1732. They sold themselves into slavery, they answered the call 'come and minister the gospel to us' - giving new meaning to the phrase "sold out for Christ". They became slaves in order to have the opportunity to reach the slaves of the West Indies for their Lord. Their life's purpose was to follow the Lamb who had given His life for them and for all the souls of the world. Their mission statement was "Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him." As they departed, the wife and children of one of them stood begging on the wharf for him to reconsider and stay. But the call and heart of God for these slaves in the West Indies was even greater than the pull of home. As the ship pulled away from the docks the men lifted a cry, "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering." This cry became the resonating heartbeat of the Moravian Missions movement. The men felt their sacrifice paled in comparison to the sacrifice of their Saviour. They loved Jesus with everything they were and did, and desired to walk in obedience, knowing that the God who called them is the God who gives the courage, grace and anointing for the task. They experienced and modeled the truth of Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." These two men birthed a Missions movement, not through fancy talk, but by living the message. They lived the "Go". John Leonard Doper and David Nitschman inspired their generation and generations to come to lay down their lives for The Lamb. As it turned out, neither man had to actually sell himself into slavery. The Governor of the island would not have let them. His attitude towards the black slaves there was such that to allow a white man to be enslaved would have been too much for him. The missionaries arrived in St. Thomas in December of 1732. At first, Nitschmann supported the two of them with his carpentry vocation, but he only stayed at St. Thomas for four months. Dober tried to make a living as a potter, but there wasn't any good clay to make pots. He did, however, get a job as the steward of the Governor's household, and later as a watchman, which allowed him to be closer to the slaves. By 1734, a contingent of 18 missionaries arrived to help out and to spread the missionary work to the neighboring islands of St. Croix, St. John and others. Conditions for the missionaries were difficult, and many of the early missionaries died. In fact, Moravian missionaries leaving Europe to go to the Caribbean missions always took two things with them: A Bible and their own headstone. There isn't any rock to speak of on those islands, and the missionaries knew that most of them wouldn't come home. And yet, they went in droves! Talk about fully committed to God's work! Dober eventually went back to Europe as part of the administrative head of Moravian Church. Nitschmann returned to Hernhutt Germany, to his wife and children later becaming a Bishop, and led a group of Moravians to form a colony in America in what is now Georgia. And here's an interesting tidbit: On the voyage over, their ship encountered a hurricane (February 5, 1736). As you can imagine, there was a great deal of panic onboard?except with the Moravian group led by Nitschmann. Instead, they sang hymns and were calm. One of the non-Moravians (an Anglican, actually) was very impressed by this. He stayed with the Moravians, and later studied with them in England. This was none other than John Wesley, who later went on to form the Methodist Church. Dober and Nitschmann's work was fruitful. Their mission field is now known as the Eastern West Indies Province. There are 52 Moravian congregations still running strongly today. "That the Lamb may recieve the reward of His suffering!"

[url=http://fireball.lifewithchrist.org/permalink/31808.html]One Passion.... One Devotion...[/url]


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Mike Balog

 2008/1/8 23:17Profile
sdidde
Member



Joined: 2005/2/16
Posts: 26
Milpitas, CA, USA

 Re:

Thank you for the follow up; So inspiring to know that a Wesley was born out of this movement. Praise to God; how unsearchable are His ways!


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Stephen

 2008/1/15 16:05Profile
iansmith
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Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 Re:

If I get into grad school I'd love to study the early moravian movement more indepth, but i might have to learn german.


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Ian Smith

 2008/1/15 16:54Profile





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