Category Archives: The Modern Era (1227-1936)

Argula von Grumbach — July 14

Argula von Grumbach
Medal with the portrait of Argula von Grumbach, Hans Schwarz, Nürnberg, around 1520 © Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg

Bible connection

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” — Romans 1:16

All about Argula von Grumbach (1492–1554/7)

Von Grumbach was born in 1492—the year Columbus sailed—to the lively, educated, and chivalrous von Stauff family, living in Ehrenfels Castle on the Laber River in Germany. Her first name recalls the noble Argeluse, a prominent character in the epic Parsifal about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. When she was 10, her father gave her a beautiful Koberger edition of the Bible in German.

Ruins of Ehrenfels Castle on the Rhine River
Ruins of Ehrenfels Castle on the Rhine River

When she married nobleman Friedrich von Grumbach in 1510, she set up homes in little Bavarian villages and market towns: Lenting, Dietfurt, Burggrumbach, and Zeilitzheim. Her children were born there. Her time in small villages prepared von Grumbach for her later role in establishing Lutheranism in these rural areas.

Martin Luther put a note in her much-loved copy of his Little Book of Prayers.

In 1523, during the exciting early years of the Reformation, this Bavarian noblewoman, with four little children dependent on her, took a big risk when she challenged the influential theologians of Ingolstadt University to a public debate in German about their persecution of a young student. They arrested and interrogated an 18-year-old student, and threatened him with death if he would not renounce his evangelical views. Theologians didn’t lower themselves to debate with lay people, much less a women, not to mention in German rather than Latin.

Von Grumbach knew the young man and reacted with horror:

“My heart and all my limbs tremble. Nowhere in the Bible do I find that Christ, or his apostles, or his prophets, put people in prison, burnt or murdered them. How in God’s name can you and your university expect to prevail, when you deploy such foolish violence against the word of God?”

They tried to ignore her, but friends had her letter to the teachers published by the new social media of the time: the printing press. Sympathizers and publishers with a  nose for news raced to reprint the compilation. It went “viral” — mere woman challenging a university!

The woodcuts on the front covers portray von Grumbach, Bible in hand, alone, confronting an intimidated, bewildered group of scholars. The heavy books of their traditional theology and canon law lie discarded on the ground.

Earlier that year in Zürich, a public debate took place between defenders of the old church and the evangelical reformer Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531). It was conducted in German, and it had convinced the city fathers to promote the Reformation. Von Grumbach followed the news. No doubt this dramatic event encouraged her to make her own protest—though she said that she did so in fear and trembling:

I suppressed my inclinations [to criticize Catholic preaching against Luther]; heavy of heart, I did nothing. Because Paul says in 1 Timothy 2: “The women should keep silence, and should not speak in church.” But now that I cannot see any man who is up to it, who is either willing or able to speak, I am constrained . . . .

She had found it impossible, following Matthew 10, to keep silent:

I find there is a text in Matthew 10 which runs: “Whoever confesses me before another I too will confess before my heavenly Father.” And Luke 9: “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, I too will be ashamed of when I come in my majesty,” etc. Words like these, coming from the very mouth of God, are always before my eyes. For they exclude neither woman nor man. And this is why I am compelled as a Christian to write to you.

Von Grumbach’s responses were both substantial and sensational. In words that ordinary people could understand, her pamphlet—which was soon followed by seven others she wrote—raised key issues about freedom of speech, the authority of Scripture, and the urgent need to reform the church.  She pointed out that throughout Scripture and right down through the history of the church, the Holy Spirit had moved women like her to speak out, and she sensed that she stood in this prophetic tradition.

Argula von Grumbach (Jina) – Reformation Europe
Church of the Redeemer, Beratzhausen

Argula von Grumbach’s forthrightness infuriated every leading institution of her time: the university, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the Bavarian princes under whose rule she lived, and not least her own husband, “Fritz.” Critics pointed to his inability to “control his wife,” and Fritz lost his lucrative job in the service of the Bavarian dukes as punishment.  Her letters only survived because authorities confiscated them as they gathered evidence for a legal challenge involving her son, Gottfried. She had tough times.

Von Grumbach never received the public debate she asked for, but instead struggled with financial difficulties for the remainder of her life, pawning a precious necklace again and again to raise funds. Her second husband, Burian von Schlick, a Bohemian nobleman, ardently supported the Reformation but also died prematurely, imprisoned by his relatives over a family dispute. In a raw and violent society, tragedy upon tragedy befell von Grumbach. Near the end of her life, she herself was grossly mistreated, held captive, and forced to flee her family home in Bavaria.

Quotes

God’s spirit is within you, read,
Is woman shut out, there, indeed?
While you oppress God’s word,
Consign souls to the devil’s game
I cannot and I will not cease
To speak at home and on the street.

What I have written to you is no woman’s chit-chat, but the word of God.

Ah, but what a joy it is when the spirit of God teaches us and gives us understanding, flitting from one text to the next, so that I came to see the true genuine light shining out.

More

An exhibition in Munster included a musical:

Walmart (!) will sell you a copy of her 1860 biography by Eduard Engelhardt.

Peter Matheson, emeritus professor at Knox Theological College, Dunedin, New Zealand, wrote the definitive biography: Argula von Grumbach: A Woman’s Voice in the Reformation and Argula von Grumbach: A Woman Before Her Time

What do we do with this?

If you are a woman, you might enjoy some overdue validation.

If you are a Bavarian, you might wonder at the violence and division religion caused in your territory. It still exists today. Millions of people have turned their backs on the church because of it.

Von Grumbach was so brave! Her convictions carried her into all sorts of good trouble. Jesus was buried in a lot of nonsense in her day. She worked hard to sweep it all away. We could use some sweeping in our era , couldn’t we?

Jan Hus — July 6

Diebold Schilling the Older, Spiezer Chronik (1485): Burning of Jan Hus at Constanz

Bible connection

Read Matthew 10:16-31

On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say

All about Jan Hus (ca. 1369-1415)

Jan Hus was born in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) in about 1369. By 1400 he was a priest and about to become part of the university in Prague.

He helped launch a vigorous reform of the church in a particularly difficult time in Europe’s history. It was in the middle of what is known as the Western Schism or the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy. The King of France moved the seat of the Papacy from Rome to Avignon. Rival popes were elected. Sides were taken and battles were fought. Another Council, the Council of Constance from 1414 to 1418, was called to solve the issue.

In the middle of this period, Jan Hus denounced various church practices in his sermons, taking his lead from the famous John Wycliffe of England (the “morning star of the Reformation”). For instance, Hus thought it was unbiblical for the wine of communion to be reserved for the priest. He wholeheartedly accepted the practice of the church worshiping in the Czech language, rather than in Latin. He argued that “laypeople” had an important role to play in the administration of the Church and that Christ was the true head of the Church, not the Pope. He thought church officials should not be earthly governors.

After the death of Pope Alexander V (an “antipope“), a crusade against the practices of granting indulgences started, of which Hus was also a part. He produced writings that are said to be directly taken from Wycliffe’s writings, notably: De ecclesia (The Church). In them he argued that no Pope or Bishop had the right to raise a sword in the name of Church. He insisted that people attained forgiveness only by repentance, not Papal indulgence. His followers publicly burned Papal communiques (“bulls”) and believed that Hus’ sayings should be followed, rather than those of the Church hierarchy. As a result, in 1412 Jan Hus was excommunicated for insubordination.

In 1414 he was summoned to the Council of Constance, with the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund guaranteeing his personal safety even if found guilty. He was tried, and ordered to recant certain heretical doctrines. He replied that he had never held or taught the doctrines in question, and was willing to declare the doctrines false, but not willing to declare on oath that he had once taught them. The one point on which Hus could be said to have a doctrinal difference with the Council was that he taught that the office of the pope did not exist by God’s command, but was established by the Church so that things might be done in an orderly fashion. The Council, having just narrowly succeeded in uniting Western Christendom under a single pope after years of chaos, was not about to have its work undermined. So it found him guilty of heresy, and he was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415.

Jan Hus Memorial Prague

Hus’ approach to being the church was human, Bible centered, and spiritual.  To partisans on both sides of the Schism, his views seemed idealistic at best, and at worst a dreamy anarchism or heresy. Throughout all the controversy that followed his teaching he maintained a creative loyalty to the church while challenging its pathologies. His death helped give birth to the Moravian Church. That group held the light out for his prophecy to be fulfilled: it is claimed he said, “In one hundred years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous “Ninety-five Theses of Contention” to the church door in Wittenberg. Before he died in flames, Hus is said to have stated: “It is better to die well than to live wickedly … Truth conquers all things.”

More 

Jan Hus Center in Cesko, his birthplace.

1977 movie

What do we do with this?

It takes faith to see beyond one’s present time and to act for generations yet to be born. We are prone to saving our lives, meaning we are out for ourselves in the present, rather than losing our lives for Christ’s sake, and so gaining a true life. Hus lived for something that was true to Jesus and big enough to be important for the people he loved—something worth risking his life to bring about. It is worth asking the question, “When I die, will people remember my faith? Will I leave them a vision of the world that is beyond me?”

Harriet Beecher Stowe — July 1

Harriet Beecher Stowe by Francis Holl (ca. 1855)

Bible connection

No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace. — Hebrews 12:22-4 (Message)

All about Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)

When President Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1863, he is reported to have said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”

Uncle Tom’s Cabin may not have caused the Civil War, but it shook both North and South. It declared the profound value of a human soul and pictured emancipation as inevitable. Susan Bradford Eppes wrote, after her state of Florida seceded, “If Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe had died before she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, this would never have happened … Isn’t it strange how much harm a pack of lies can do?”

Harriet was the seventh of 12 children of Lyman Beecher, Congregationalist minister, noted revivalist and reformer. When Harriet’s mother lay dying, Lyman repeatedly spoke words to her that the family embraced as their life text, often repeating it to one another:

“… Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, … and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

The essence of words energized the unanswerable argument in Uncle Tom’s Cabin: if a slave can come to Mount Sion and to Jesus and to the company of saints in the New Jerusalem, how can you set him up on an auction block and trade him from one white man to another?

In 1832 her father moved the family to the frontier city of Cincinnati, where he became president of Lane Seminary, soon a center for abolitionists. At 25 Harriet married Calvin Ellis Stowe, professor of Biblical literature at Lane.

Harriet was often morbid while growing up as she struggled with issues of faith. But when she was fourteen, she told her father she had given herself to Christ. Later in her marriage to Calvin Stowe, she would plead with him to seek Christ with the same burning devotion with which he sought knowledge. “If you had studied Christ with half the energy that you have studied Luther … then would he be formed in you … ” When he turned to spiritualism, she pleaded with him, the Biblical scholar, that it was unbiblical.

During her child-rearing years, she read to her seven children two hours each evening and, for a time, ran a small school in her home. She described herself as “a little bit of a woman, just as thin and dry as a pinch of snuff; never very much to look at in my best days and very much used-up by now, a mere drudge with few ideas beyond babies and housekeeping.”

But she was not a mere drudge. She found time to write, partially to bolster the meager family income. An early literary success at age 32 (for a collection of short stories) encouraged her, but she still worried about the conflict between writing and mothering. Despite privation and anxiety, due largely to her husband’s poor health, she wrote continually and in 1843 published The Mayflower; or, Sketches of Scenes and Characters Among the Descendants of the Pilgrims. Her husband urged her on, predicting she could mold “the mind of the West for the coming generation.” That she did with the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly at 40.

She had lived for 18 years in Cincinnati, separated only by the Ohio River from a slave-holding community in Kentucky. She gained firsthand knowledge of fugitive slaves and about life in the South from friends and through her contact with the “Underground Railroad” there. The secret network was started in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Act (severe measures that mandated the return of runaway slaves without trial) to help escaped slaves reach safety in the North or in Canada. Stowe herself helped some slaves escape.

But Stowe still brooded over how she could further respond. Then, during a church communion service, the scene of the triumphant death of Tom flashed before her. She soon formed the story that preceded Tom’s death.

In 1850 her husband became professor at Bowdoin College and moved his family to Brunswick, Maine. In Brunswick, Stowe wrote the story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin for serial publication in the National Era, an antislavery paper of Washington, D.C., in 1851 and 1852 in 40 installments, each with a cliffhanger ending. Her name became anathema in the South. But elsewhere the book had an unparalleled popularity; it was translated into at least 23 languages. When it appeared in book form, it sold 1,000,000 copies before the Civil War. The dramatic adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin played to capacity audiences. Stowe reinforced her story with The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1853), in which she accumulated a large number of documents and testimonies against slavery.

Its publication also inspired a reaction from the South: critical reviews and the publication of some 30 anti-abolitionist Uncle Tom novels within three years.

Illustration from original.

By literary standards, the novel’s situations are contrived, the dialogue unreal, and the slaves romanticized. Still, Stowe communicated the absurdity of slavery through Tom’s triumph over the brutal evil of Simon Legree.

“‘How would ye like to be tied to a tree, and have a slow fire lit up around ye?’ asked Legree. ‘Wouldn’t that be pleasant, eh, Tom?’

“‘Mas’r,’ said Tom, ‘I know ye can do dreadful things, but’—he stretched himself upward and clasped his hands—’but after ye’ve killed the body, there ain’t no more ye can do. And oh! there’s all eternity to come after that!’”

Until her death in July 1896, Stowe averaged nearly a book a year, but Uncle Tom’s Cabin was her legacy. Even one of her harshest critics acknowledged that it was “perhaps the most influential novel ever published, a verbal earthquake, an ink-and-paper tidal wave.”

She thereafter led the life of a woman of letters, writing novels, of which The Minister’s Wooing (1859) is best known, and many studies of social life in both fiction and essay. Stowe published also a small volume of religious poems and toward the end of her career gave some public readings from her writings.

Harriet Beecher Stowe quotes:

  • Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
  • The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
  • Women are the real architects of society.
  • Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.
  • It’s a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done.
  • Human nature is above all things lazy.
  • The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.

More

Read Uncle Tom’s Cabin for free.

What do we do with this?

Stowe came from a skilled and disciplined family, but even then she was still a woman trapped in the day-to-day life of a patriarchal society. Her life suggests that conviction counts, if it is followed up by deeds, no matter the circumstance.

What is God moving you to do? What should you be sticking with until it is done?

Uncle Tom’s Cabin would make an interesting group reading as a family or small group. Apparently, members of the King of Siam’s court turned it into a play themselves (according to Rogers and Hammerstein, at least).

Antonio de Montesinos — June 27

Antonio de Montesinos shouts against slavery. Sculpture by Antonio Castellanos (1982), Santo Domingo harbor, Dominican Republic

Bible connection

I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence,

And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:

But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness. — Isaiah 62:6-9 (KJV)

All about Antonio de Montesinos (1475-1540)

The Spaniards who conquered the Caribbean and operated plantations with Native American labor were wanton in their destruction of human life, and perpetrated terrible cruelties to get gold or to revenge slight wrongs. Most priests were silent to these abuses but a few Dominicans were outraged.

Antonio de Montesinos was among the outraged. Very little is known about Montesinos’ early life. He became a Dominican friar at the convent of St. Stephen in Salamanca, Spain. While he was there, he may have received an education. He was a member of the first group of Dominican missionaries to go to Hispaniola (now divided into the Dominican Republic and Haiti) in September 1510, under the leadership of of his prior, Pedro de Córdoba.

With the backing of Córdoba and his Dominican community in Santo Domingo, Montesinos was the first European to publicly denounce the enslavement and harsh treatment of the indigenous peoples of the island. He initiated an ongoing struggle to resist and reform the colonizers’ treatment of the people in the “New World.” Montesinos’ outspoken criticism influenced Bartolomé de las Casas to head up a movement for the humane treatment of the native people.

Montesinos is famous for his sermon on December 21, 1511, in which he warned his listeners of their spiritual peril. His listeners demanded a retraction. Instead, the Prior Cordoba responded with the threat of excommunication for all plantation operators who did not free their Indians. Here is part of Montesinos’ sermon:

I have climbed to this pulpit to let you know of your sins, for I am the voice of Christ crying in the desert of this island, and therefore, you must not listen to me indifferently, but with all your heart and all your senses…. This voice tells you that you are in mortal sin; that you not only are in it, but live in it and die in it, and this because of the cruelty and tyranny that you bring to bear on these innocent people.
Pray tell, by what right do you wage your odious wars on people who dwelt in quiet and peace on their own lands? [By what right have you] destroyed countless numbers of them with unparalleled murders and destruction? Why do you oppress and exploit them, without even giving them enough to eat, or caring for them when they become ill as a result of your exploitation? They die, or rather, you kill them, so that you may extract and obtain more and more gold every day….
Are they not human? Have they no souls? Are you not required to love them as you love yourselves? How can you remain in such profound moral lethargy? I assure you, in your present state you can no more be saved than Moors or Turks who do not have and even reject the faith of Jesus Christ!” [Justo González, “Lights in the Darkness.”]
As a result of the friars’ protests at Santo Domingo, King Ferdinand II of Spain initially ordered that Montesinos be shipped back to the homeland along with other Dominicans who supported him. Ferdinand, at first, referred to the preaching of Montesinos as “a novel and groundless attitude” and a “dangerous opinion [that] would do much harm to all the affairs of that land.” After returning to Spain, Montesinos and his supporters were able to persuade the king of their righteous cause and principles.

As a result, the king convened a commission that promulgated the Laws of Burgos, the first code of ordinances to protect the indigenous people. The laws regulated the treatment and conversion of the indigenous people, and also limited the demands of the Spanish colonizers upon them.

Montesinos returned to the Caribbean. In July 1526, under the leadership of Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, Montesinos, two other Dominicans, and 600 colonists established San Miguel de Gualdape, the first European settlement in what would later become the United States. It was founded near Sapelo Sound on the coast of Georgia, but the colony only lasted about four months before it succumbed to disease, starvation, and a hostile Indian population. After the death of Ayllón, the settlement was abandoned. Montesinos was among the 150 survivors who returned to San Domingo. It is presumed Montesinos and the other Dominicans were the first priests to celebrate Mass in the present-day United States.

When Montesinos returned to Hispaniola, he continued to play a prominent role in the region. In 1528, he accompanied Fray Tomás de Berlanga to Spain to see King Charles V on matters of “great importance.” While in Spain, he was appointed protector of the Indians in the Province of Venezuela. Charles V then granted that province to Ambrosio Alfinger and Bartolome Sayller, representatives of the Welser banking family, German creditors of the emperor. Montesinos accompanied the German expedition to Venezuela in 1529. 

In 1537 Pope Paul III issued the Papal bull Sublimus Deus which finally declared West Indians to be fully human. It forbade the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and all other indigenous people who could be discovered later or were previously known. It states the Indians are fully rational human beings who have rights to freedom and property, even if they are heathen.
On June 27, 1540 Antonio de Montesinos was murdered in Venezuela by an officer of the Welser expedition due to his strong opposition to the exploitation of the Indians.
More

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness. A nice bio with further details.

What do we do with this?

As much as we might despair over the impact colonizers had on the world, we have to admire the courage and ingenuity they demonstrate! Many of the missionaries were true believers hitchhiking on the ships bringing devastation to new lands. Many were tools of the system, of course, but not Montesinos. His statue in Santo Domingo is a monument to the gospel that eventually got him killed. Maybe someone will remember your faith, too.

If you hit some of the links scattered through this history, you will get a quick lesson on some history about which you might know very little. The study might give you some insight about places you’ve heard about (like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela) which have provided many new citizens of the U.S. in the last 20 years (like a million Dominicans and 500K Venezuelans). If you met some of them, they might end up thinking you cared enough to find out about them. (If I have readers from there, you can verify if that is true).

Hudson Taylor — June 3

Bible connection

Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. — 1 Corinthians 9:13-17

All about Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)

In 1853 a small boat left Liverpool with Hudson Taylor on board, a gaunt and wild-eyed 21-year-old missionary. He was headed for a country that was just coming into the European/American Christian consciousness: China. By the time Taylor died a half-century later, China was viewed as the most fertile and challenging mission field of all and thousands volunteered annually to serve there.

Taylor was born to a Methodist couple fascinated with the Far East who had prayed for their newborn, “Grant that he may work for you in China.” Years later, a teenage Hudson experienced a spiritual birth during an intense time of prayer in which, as he later put it, life stretched out “before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy.” He felt called to China. He spent the next years in frantic preparation, learning the rudiments of medicine, studying Mandarin, and immersing himself ever deeper into the Bible and prayer.

His ship arrived in Shanghai, one of five “treaty ports” China had opened to foreigners following its first Opium War with England. Almost immediately Taylor made a radical decision (as least for Protestant missionaries of the day): he decided to dress in Chinese clothes and grow a pigtail (as Chinese men did). His fellow Protestants were either incredulous or critical.

Taylor, for his part, was not happy with most missionaries he saw: he believed they were “worldly” and spent too much time with English businessmen and diplomats who needed their services as translators. Instead, Taylor wanted the Christian faith taken to the interior of China. So within months of arriving, and the native language still a challenge, Taylor, along with Joseph Edkins, set off for the interior, setting sail down the Huangpu River distributing Chinese Bibles and tracts.

When the Chinese Evangelization Society, which had sponsored Taylor, proved incapable of paying its missionaries in 1857, Taylor resigned and became an independent missionary; trusting God to meet his needs. In 1861, he became seriously ill (probably with hepatitis) and was forced to return to England to recover. In England, the restless Taylor continued translating the Bible into Chinese (a work he’d begun in China), studied to become a midwife, and recruited more missionaries. Troubled that people in England seemed to have little interest in China, he wrote China: Its Spiritual Need and Claims. In one passage, he scolded, “Can all the Christians in England sit still with folded arms while these multitudes [in China] are perishing—perishing for lack of knowledge—for lack of that knowledge which England possesses so richly?”

Taylor became convinced that a special organization was needed to evangelize the interior of China. He made plans to recruit 24 missionaries: two for each of the 11 unreached inland provinces and two for Mongolia. It was a visionary plan that would have left veteran recruiters breathless: it would increase the number of China missionaries by 25 percent. He was wracked with doubt about the dangers his plan presented. But at the same time he despaired for the millions of Chinese who were dying without the hope of the gospel. While walking along the beach on day, his gloom lifted:

“There the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. I told him that all responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with him; that as his servant it was mine to obey and to follow him.”

His new mission, which he called the China Inland Mission (CIM), had a number of distinctive features, including this: its missionaries would have no guaranteed salaries nor could they appeal for funds; they would simply trust God to supply their needs; furthermore, its missionaries would adopt Chinese dress and then press the gospel into the China interior. Within a year of his breakthrough, Taylor, his wife and four children, and 16 young missionaries sailed from London to join five others already in China working under Taylor’s direction.

Taylor continued to make enormous demands upon himself. He was accused of being a tyrant and people left for other missions. Yet by 1876, with 52 missionaries, CIM constituted one-fifth of the missionary force in China. Because there continued to be so many Chinese to reach, Taylor instituted another radical policy: he sent unmarried women into the interior, a move criticized by many veterans. But Taylor’s boldness knew no bounds. In 1881, he asked God for another 70 missionaries by the close of 1884: he got 76. In late 1886, Taylor prayed for another 100 within a year: by November 1887, he announced 102 candidates had been accepted for service.

His leadership style and high ideals created enormous strains between the London and China councils of the CIM. London thought Taylor autocratic; Taylor said he was only doing what he thought was best for the work, and then demanded more commitment from others:

“China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women,” …“The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.”

Taylor’s grueling work pace, despite poor health ended in a breakdown in 1900. He also lost his wife and four of his eight children by living like the Chinese. Between his work ethic and his absolute trust in God (despite never soliciting funds, his CIM grew and prospered), he inspired thousands to forsake the comforts of the West to bring the Christian message to the vast and unknown interior of China. Though mission work in China was interrupted by the communist takeover in 1949, the CIM continues to this day under the name Overseas Missionary Fellowship (International).

More

OMF biography 

Four-minute YouTube bio [link]

Chinese pilgrimage to Barnsley, birthplace of Hudson Taylor [link]

What do we do with this?

What do you think of Taylor’s passion for evangelism? In some ways he was strikingly anticolonial. In some ways he was self-destructively obsessive. What do you do with that? What do you think God thinks of Hudson Taylor?

The Lord’s mission also ended in Jesus’ “untimely” death. Do you think we are called to imitate him in some way?

Are you aware of a people group who need to hear the truth about Jesus? Are you called to do anything about that?

Kizito — June 3

Image result for st. kizito

Bible connection

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” — Acts 4:17-32

All about Kizito (1872-1886)

Kizito* was the youngest of the Ugandan martyrs who suffered death rather than renounce his faith on June 3rd, 1886. The Ugandan Martyrs refer to a group of forty-five Christians – twenty-two Catholics and twenty-three Anglicans – who were tortured and killed over a period stretching from 1885 to 1887 for their faith.  Christians were persecuted by Mwanda,  the Kabaka (ruler) during this period.  Bugandan territory is now incorporated into the Republic of Uganda.

Priests belonging to the Missionaries in Africa, commonly referred to as the White Fathers (due to their white habits), arrived in Uganda in 1879.  Their mission was met with little resistance at first as they shared their faith among the people of Buganda.  That changed when the Kabaka, Mutesa, died and was succeeded by his son, Mwanga.  Mwanga viewed Christianity as a threat to his power.

The Christian views on morality – especially the teaching that pedophilia was a sin – did not endear them to Mwanda, who was a pedophile and routinely solicited sexual favors from his young pages.  His chief page, Joseph Mukasa was a Catholic who did his best to protect his young charges.  He even had the courage and conviction to confront Mwanga and insist he give up his sinful ways.  Mwanga’s response was to have him beheaded.

Joseph Mukasa was succeeded as chief page by Charles Lwanga who also was a Catholic and who also was vigorous in his protection of the young pages.  Mwanga became increasingly enraged as the pages, Kizito among them, continually refused and rebuffed his sexual advances. Mwanga eventually had the pages brought before him and gave them a choice to renounce their Christian faith and live or choose to keep their faith and die.

Many of the pages including Charles Lwanga and Kizito chose their faith.  There were fifteen in the group who were bound and made to walk two days to Namugongo where they would be killed.  One of the Christians, Matthias Kalemba, was martyred enroute.

Upon reaching Namugongo, Charles Lwanga was the first to be burned at the stake.  The following is a moving excerpt taken from the Catholic News agency:

The executioners slowly burnt his feet until only the charred remained.  Still alive, they promised him that they would let him go if he renounced his faith.  He refused saying, “You are burning me, but it is as if you are pouring water over my body.”  He then continued to pray silently as they set him on fire.

The other pages were burned alive together.  As they were being executed, their faith remained strong until the end, as they prayed and sang hymns.

The death of these martyrs had quite the opposite effect the Kabaka intended. Many witnessing the horrific deaths of these amazing young men who gave their young lives so willingly for their faith asked to be baptized.

* This description of  Bugandan kinship structure may be unfamiliar to you if you grew up in the United States. Kizito’s birth father was Lukomera of the Lungfish (Mamba) Clan, and his mother, who bore Lukomera nine children before she deserted him and died, was Wanga¬bira of the Civet-cat (Ffumbe) Clan. Nyika, or Nyikomuyonga, Guardian of Mwanga’s umbilical cord, often said to be the father of Kizito, was his father by adoption only. The relationship arose from a blood-pact between Nyika’s father Kiggwe and a member of the Lungfish Clan named Mitalekoya. Kiggwe, a descendent of Kabaka (King) Kateregga and a member of the Leopard (Ngo) Clan, was county chief of Ggomba when he made this alliance. Later he incurred the royal displeasure, was deprived of his office and possessions and became virtually an outlaw, because he was out of favor with the Kabaka. In this time of adversity, the blood-pact stood him in good stead. Because of it, the Lungfish Clan gave him and his family asylum and aid, and Mitalekoya became a second father to his son Nyika.

More

Uganda martyrs: Tracing the roots of St. Kizito

Mwanga – the king who killed the Uganda martyrs

What do we do with this?

The church in Uganda remains attentive to sexuality. That seems predictable, since some of its foundation is resistance to sexual predators. Most contexts prove dangerous for Christians, if not everyone. What is prowling around like a lion, as Peter sees it, trying to devour your heart and soul?

The main pressure the King of Buganda felt in the time of Kizito was from colonizers. The French Catholics and English Anglicans were in league with their respective country’s rush to “protect” areas of Africa. Muslim traders were eager to have fortified trading posts and a beachhead for Islam. Evangelism coupled with colonization is one of the stains on Christian history. Like Joseph told his brothers, “You meant it for evil but God used it for good.” Africa is now the continent with the most Christians. Have you experienced or done anything evil that God used for good? Praise God for the goodness, and consider what justice and forgiveness mean to you.

Nikolaus Zinzendorf  — May 9

Bible connection

Read Isaiah 58

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

All about Nicolaus Zinzendorf (1700-1760)

Nicholas Ludwig, Count Zinzendorf, was born in Dresden in 1700. He was deeply involved in the Pietist movement in Germany, which emphasized personal devotion and the emotional component of life in Christ. This was in contrast to the state Lutheran Church of the day, which had grown to symbolize a largely intellectual faith centered on belief in specific doctrines. He believed in “heart religion,” a personal salvation built on the individual’s spiritual relationship with Christ.

In 2000, German Moravians created a trail of sculptures commemorating the 300th birthday of Zinzendorf. This one features the Count with children, whom he believed modeled the kind of faith we are to have. The gray figures behind represent the rigidness of those leading the old church. Photo taken in Großhennersdorf, Herrnhut, Germany.

Zinzendorf was born into one of the most noble families of Europe. His father died when he was an infant, and he was raised by his Pietist pioneer grandmother, Henrietta Catherina, Baroness von Gersdorff, at her castle Gros Hennersdorf. There are many stories about his deep faith during childhood. As a young man he struggled with his desire to study for the ministry and the expectation that he would fulfill his hereditary role as a Count. As a teenager at Halle Academy, he and several other young nobles formed a secret society, The Order of the Grain of Mustard Seed. The stated purpose of this order was that the members would use their position and influence to spread the Gospel. As an adult, Zinzendorf later reactivated this adolescent society, and many influential leaders of Europe ended up joining the group. Their number included the King of Denmark, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of Paris.

Zinzendorf was one of the most controversial figures of the early eighteenth century. The crowned heads of Europe and religious leaders of both Europe and America all knew him or knew of him — and either loved him or hated him.

Although born to an aristocratic family, Zinzendorf decided to use his wealth to shelter a group of Christian radicals: the Unitas Fratrum (The Latinized form of the Czech jednota bratrská/society of brethren. This name was was assumed by the branch of the Hussites known as the Bohemian Brethren and their successors, the Moravian Brethren).  It was a tumultuous time in Europe when it was unsafe to not be part of an established state church.  In 1722 a small band of Jesus-followers who chose not to be part of the state church crossed the border from Moravia to settle in a town they built on Zinzendorff’s estate. They called it  Herrnhut, or “the Lord’s Watch.”

During its first five years of existence the settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727 the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering. So the village was an unlikely site for a revival! Zinzendorf and others, however, covenanted to prayer and labor for the Holy Spirit to move among them. Largely due to Zinzendorf’s leadership in daily Bible studies, the group came to formulate a unique document, known as the Brotherly Agreement, which set forth basic tenets of Christian behavior. Residents of Herrnhut were required to sign a pledge to abide by these Biblical principals. There followed an intense and powerful experience of renewal, often described as the “Moravian Pentecost.”

On May 12, 1727 during a communion service, the entire congregation felt a powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, and felt their previous differences swept away. This experience began the Moravian renewal which led to remarkable ministry. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted. Looking back to that day and the four amazing months that followed, Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.”

A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate the period. On August 27 of that year twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer. Some others enlisted in the “hourly intercession.” For over a hundred years members of the Moravian Church maintained this continual prayer. “At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord,” stated historian A. J. Lewis.

In 1731, while attending the coronation of Christian VI in Copenhagen, the young Count met a converted slave from the West Indies, Anthony Ulrich. Anthony’s tale of his people’s plight moved Zinzendorf, who brought him back to Herrnhut. As a result, two young men, Leonard Dober and David Nitchmann, were sent to St. Thomas to live among the slaves and share the good news about Jesus. This was the first organized Protestant mission work, and grew rapidly to Africa, America, Russia, and other parts of the world. By 1791, sixty-five years after starting their hourly intercession, the small Moravian community had placed 300 missionaries from Greenland to South Africa, literally from one end of the earth to the other.

Members of the Mo­ra­vi­an Church helped populate the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. They are known as an historic Peace Church, as are the Brethren in Christ and Mennonites.

More 

Zinzendorf in America

Zinzendorf the hymn writer [people singing one at Herrnhut]

Christian History 1) bio, 2) Magazine: Zinzendorf and the Moravians

The early Moravians were accused of sexual impropriety. The criticism may have been appropriate, at times. Here’s an investigation: Wound Worship, “Enthusiasts” and “Sodomites”: A History of Radical Moravians (2019)

1982 movie:

All sorts of stuff at Zinzendorf.com. You need to work at this old website to reveal its treasures.

What do we do with this?

Pray: May our whole church be a truly visible habitation of God.

The Pietists wanted heart religion. They used Bible study, prayer and intentional community to grow it. They shared resources and went on mission to show it. What do you want? What yearning in your spirit meets the passion of God’s Spirit?

Julian of Norwich — May 8

Statue of Julian of Norwich, Norwich Cathedral, by David Holgate FSDC (2010)

Bible connection

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:14-19

All about Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416)

Julian of Norwich is known to us almost exclusively through her book, The Revelations of Divine Love, which is widely acknowledged as one of the great classics on the spiritual life in Christ. She is thought to have been the first woman to write a book in English which has survived.

We do not know Julian’s actual name. Her name is taken from St. Julian’s Church in Norwich where she lived as an anchoress for most of her life. We know from the medieval literary work, The Book of Margery Kempe, that Julian was known as a spiritual counselor. People would come to her cell in Norwich to seek advice. Considering that, at the time, the citizens of Norwich suffered from plague and poverty, as well as a famine, she must have counseled a lot of people in pain. Yet, her writings are suffused with hope and trust in God’s goodness.

Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love is based on a series of sixteen visions she received on the 8th of May 1373. Julian was lying on, what was thought at the time, to be her deathbed when suddenly she saw Christ bleeding in front of her. She received insight into his sufferings and his love for us.

Julian’s message is one of hope and trust in God, whose compassionate love is always given to us. In this all-gracious God there can be no element of wrath. The wrath —

all that is contrary to peace and love — is in us and not in God. God’s saving work in Jesus of Nazareth and in the gift of God’s Spirit, is to slake our wrath in the power of his merciful and compassionate love.

Julian did not perceive God as blaming or judging us, but as enfolding us in love. Famously, Julian used women’s experience of motherhood to explore how God loves us, referring to Jesus as our Mother.

The Revelations of Divine Love comes to us in two versions; the first (the short text) written shortly after the revelation given to Julian , the second (the long text) written twenty years later. The long text is greatly expanded to include her meditations on what she had been shown. Today, only seventeenth century copies of earlier manuscripts of the long text, and fragments from the fifteenth century survive.

Julian recounts that she was thirty and a half years old when she received her visions and this is how we know she was born in 1342. (An editor to one of the surviving manuscripts speaks of her as a “devout woman, who is a recluse at Norwich, and still alive, A.D. 1413”). There is further evidence to be found in a contemporary will that she was alive in 1416, and that she had a maid who lived in a room next to the cell. Apart from that, we know nothing else about Julian’s life. However, reading Revelations of Divine Love, reveals an intelligent, sensitive and very down-to-earth woman who maintains her trust in God’s goodness while addressing doubt, fear and deep theological questions.

St Julian's Church, Norwich, 2009.jpg
The building where she lived

Interest in Julian’s writings has grown over recent decades More and more people have discovered the significance of her book. Her lyrical language and positive image of God speak to the present-day reader. Her work is well-respected by theologians, historians and literary scholars, and there are now dozens of translations of her Revelations, together with countless commentaries. Modern poets and writers as diverse as T.S. Eliot, Denise Levertov, and Iris Murdoch reference Julian in their writing.

Julian’s Shrine, off Rouen Rd. in Norwich (above), is visited by pilgrims from all over the world.

Quotes

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.

And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceeding well.

God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all.

Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.

Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God, and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love.

More

Revelations of Divine Love [audio book]

Robert Fruehwirth’s book that puts Julian into action [Amazon] [lecture]

Julian was not alone. Other women of her time were writing down similar experiences. You might like to know her predecessors from among the beguines: Mechthild von Magdeburg (ca. 1207-ca. 1294) and Hadewijch of Antwerp (13th centruy). Her contemporary, John of Ruysbroeck (1293-1381) writes in and about the tradition Julian resembles.

What do we do with this?

Julian’s revelations are not unattainable to any person who is seeking. Maybe we all have some kind of early experience that informs much of our lifelong walk with Jesus. Try the prayer of imagination.

Spend some time seeking. Let God clarify for you just what you should be hearing. If you really want to take Julian’s example, you will dare to write it all down and meditate on it another day.

Pandita Ramabai — April 5

Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati 1858-1922 front-page-portrait.jpg

Bible connection

Shout for joy, you heavens;
    rejoice, you earth;
    burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
    the Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you! — Isaiah 49:13-15

Ramabai on an Indian post stamp

All about Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922)

The Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice name Pandita Ramabai  as one of their favorite saints of all time. She was an Indian activist, evangelist and one of the first modern Pentecostals. Over a hundred years before Malala Yousafzai, she campaigned for women’s right to education, and she was extremely active in helping the poor and those oppressed under the Hindu caste system.

Born in a Brahmin (highest caste) family in south India, in what is now the state of Karnataka, she started to study at an early age and learned Sanskrit along with sacred Hindu texts, astronomy, physiology and more. This was controversial for a woman to do, but her father encouraged her as he saw how much she was learning about society, religion and activism. She came to be called by the honorific title “pandita” which denotes an Indian scholar.

In 1883 she went to England and taught Sanskrit at an Anglican monastery in Wantage. She met Jesus there. “I realized,” she later wrote, “after reading the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Saviour he claimed to be, and no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden women of India.”

As she returned to her home country, she bought a piece of land outside Pune and started a Christian social community for young widows called Mukti, Sanskrit for liberation. She also helped people who were orphaned, disabled or homeless. When a famine hit India in 1896, Ramabai rescued over a thousand people and brought many of them to the Mukti mission.

In 1905, Mukti was transformed by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds were saved at the community, and they prayed, worshiped and studied the Word of God in ecstasy. Miracles started to happen as the Holy Spirit gave gifts to the girls at Mukti. This happened at the same time as the mighty Azusa Street revival was going on in Los Angeles. The groups somehow got in touch with each other, no doubt by God’ grace. In the January 1908 edition of Azusa Street’s paper The Apostolic Faith, this report from Ramabai was provided:

“One Sunday, as I was coming out of the church, after the morning service, I saw some girls standing near the door of a worker’s room. They seemed greatly excited and wondering. I soon found out the cause. A girl was praying aloud, and praising God in the English language. She did not know the language.”

Many Pentecostal leaders, went to Mukti and witnessed the amazing outpouring among the poor and marginalized. The Mukti community became the cornerstone of Indian Pentecostal mission, like Los Angeles was in the United States and Oslo in Europe. Thousands were blessed through what God was doing there. Ramabai continued to preach the Gospel, save the poor and campaign for women’s rights in the power of the Holy Spirit until she died on this day in 1922.

More

  • For a more detailed biography of Ramabai’s amazing life, check out Christianity Today’s article about her.
  • Here is a nice promotional video from Mukti today:

  • Here is another video with nice pics but probably not in your language. [video]

What do we do with this?

Pray: Lord, help me become as passionate about You and the poor as Pandita Ramabai was, and let her example be an inspiration to many.

Pray for the needy in India and around the world. Thank God for people able to creativly beg the wealthy for money to care for the poor.

Consider again what you think and feel about the movement of the Holy Spirit in the world. It has been counterfeited, monetized and corrupted by power-hungry and greedy people. Does that casue you to disown it? Or does that make it ongoing work even more miraculous?

John Leonhard Dober — April 1

Bible connection

Read Acts 13:16-52

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

All about John Leonhard Dober (1706-1766)

Let’s celebrate one of the Moravian Brethren’s first residents of the Americas who was part of their amazing and extensive missionary efforts in the 1700’s. As you know, the Moravians are still alive and well in the United States. A main center for them is just up the road in Bethlehem, PA.

Leonhard Dober was born on March 7, 1706, in Bavaria, Germany. Like his father, Johann, Leonhard was trained as a potter. When he was nineteen years old, he walked 315 miles to join his older brother, Martin, in Herrnhut. We do not exactly know how Martin had heard about Herrnhut, the community founded by Protestant refugees from Moravia just a few years earlier. By 1727 about half of the population of Herrnhut came from other parts of Germany. Other members of the Dober family soon joined Leonhard and Martin in their vibrant Christian community: their parents, Johann and Anna Barbara in 1730, and their younger brother Andreas in 1733.

An important event in Leonhard’s life took place in 1731 when Anton, a former African slave from St. Thomas, visited Herrnhut. Count Zinzendorf, on whose land the village was built, had met Anton in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was employed as a servant. Anton, who was baptized, impressed Zinzendorf and his traveling companions with his accounts of the situation on St. Thomas where Africans lived under the harshest of conditions. Zinzendorf sent Anton to Herrnhut where he told the congregation about his sister on St. Thomas who was “eager to learn about Christianity if only God would send someone to teach her.”

Leonhard felt he should be the person to go to the Caribbean island and tell the slaves “about their Savior.” The Church, however was not quick to rush into such an enterprise, and it took another year until Dober and David Nitschmann, his fellow missionary, received permission for travel there. The day they left Herrnhut, August 21, 1732, marks the beginning of mission work of the Moravian Church.

After being sent out by Count Zinzendorf, the two traveled from Herrnhut to Copenhagen, Denmark, where their plan initially met with strong opposition. When asked by a court official how they would support themselves, Nitschmann replied,

“We shall work as slaves among the slaves.”

“But,” said the official, “that is impossible. It will not be allowed. No white man ever works as a slave.”

“Very well,” replied Nitschmann, “I am a carpenter, and will ply my trade.”

After some difficulty, the missionaries found support from the Danish Queen (a freind of Zinzendorf) and her court. Even though the Danish West Indian Company refused to grant them passage, a ship was eventually procured. They left Copenhagen on Oct 8, 1732 and arrived in St. Thomas two months later on December 13. While in the St. Thomas, they lived frugally and preached to the slaves, and had some success. Some still tell the tale they succeeded in selling themselves into slavery and were never heard form again. But Nitschmann returned to Europe four months after arriving. Dober remained until 1734 when he was called back to become General Elder, a position he would hold until September of 1741. Other Moravian missionaries continued the work, establishing churches on St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John’s, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, and St. Kitts. Moravian missionaries baptized 13,000 converts before any other missionaries arrived on the scene.

Dober served the Moravian Church in many places. He worked in Amsterdam where he tried to evangelize the Jewish inhabitants of that city (1738/39). He was appointed head of Moravian activities in the Netherlands (1741-45), in England (1745-1746) and later in Silesia (1751-58). He was also ordained a bishop of the Church in 1747. After Zinzendorf’s death, Dober became a member of the Directorate of the Unity – a position he held until he died in Herrnhut on April 1, 1766.

Dober’s letter describing his motivation for going to St. Thomas says:

Since it is desired of me to make known my reason, I can say that my disposition was never to travel during this time [that period in his life], but only to ground myself more steadfastly in my Savior; that when the gracious count came back from his trip to Denmark and told me about the slaves, it gripped me so that I could not get free of it. I vowed to myself that if one other brother would go with me, I would become a slave, and would tell him so, and [also] what I had experienced from our Savior: that the word of the cross in its lowliness shows a special strength to souls. As for me, I thought: even if helpful to no one in it [my commitment] I could still give witness through it of obedience to our Savior! I leave it to the good judgment of the congregation and have no other ground than this I thought: that on the island there still are souls who cannot believe because they have not heard.

More

A lesson from the Greenbay Sunday School in Antigua:

What do we do with this?

Herrnhut is a good model, don’t you think? Radical Christians crossing lines of nationality and race, prayer, community and imaginative mission worldwide. That’s good Christianity in any era! How are we doing?

Is God is calling you to some new obedience? What will you do about it? You can start by letting others know — even if it takes a long time to be sent into it, it is good to have someone backing you up (and maybe holding you accountable!).