taken from To Every Tribe Winter 2009
Do you know how the Moravians decided who got to go as missionaries when new opportunities arose? They cast lots for it . . . for it . . .not to avoid it! The attitude of the whole community was that they were all called to go and send. They might be called upon at any moment, so everyone lived in constant readiness. When the lots were thrown down they eagerly gathered around, hoping for their name to be called out. It was like winning the lottery! When twelve missionaries died from disease on St. Thomas, the Moravian leadership in Herrnhut gathered the community together, threw down the lots, and chose twelve more to replace the ones who had died!
These people took the Great Commission seriously and personally. In just the first 15 years of the prayer revival, churches were established in the Virgin Islands,Greenland, Turkey, the Gold Coast of Africa, South Africa, Suriname, the Arctic, Algiers, Sri Lanka, Persia, Ethiopia, and among the Eskimos and Indians of North America.
Even John and Charles Wesley were converted, in part, through their contact with the Moravians. George Whitefield hotly debated some of the Moravian theology, but came to love and respect their zeal to get Christ known in places where no one else would consider going.
Count Nikolaus Zinzendorf, with all his personal flaws and theological deficiencies – and there were many – passionately loved Christ, the gospel, and the nations. Zinzendorf did much, and suffered much, to enlist missionary martyrs for the truly tough places of the world. He deservedly is considered one of the most influential leaders in mission history.
Zinzendorf laid a foundation for cross-cultural, protestant mission that pioneered the way for what is called “The Great Century of Mission” which followed in the 1800’s.
Sixty years before William Carey set out for India and one-hundred fifty years before Hudson Taylor sailed for China, God had already selected a rag-tag, rough-and-tumble group of radical believers to demonstrate what he will do when a few sell-out to Christ and simply do what he tells them to do.
I’ve scribbled the name of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians into the margin of Hebrews 11 in my bible alongside the other gospel champions listed there. Like those biblical examples, the Moravians’ lives demonstrated outrageous faith and extreme risk for the gospel. They lived by faith, and they died by faith. It is appropriate to remember the Moravians’ among God’s flock of fools who went to the far nations to gather a chosen, ransomed people for the glory of his name.