David Zeisberger, Moravian missionary to the Native American

(1721–1808) Few Moravian missionaries suffered more in their labors for Christ than did this native Zauchtenthal.

For 62 years he devoted himself to the native Americans, sharing in all of the uncertainties that beset their fragile existence during the time of territorial expansion and the Revolutionary War.

Zeisberger’s parents fled persecution in Moravia and found refuge at Herrnhut when he was five. Nine years later they left him behind in Herrnhut to complete his schooling while they went to England and from there sailed to Georgia in the Moravian band led by David Nitschmann.

In 1738, 17-year-old David joined his parents and almost immediately became assistant to Peter Boehler. He was among the pioneers who built Bethlehem settlement and, at age 24, went to the Iroquois village of Shekomeko on the New York-Connecticut border to assist Frederick Post; this set the course for his life.

In 1750 he joined Bishop Spangenberg in a dangerous incursion north to Onandaga to secure permission from the Iroquois for mission work and then, following a quick trip to Herrnhut to be appointed “perpetual missionary to the Indians” by Zinzendorf, he began a four-year residence in Onandaga.

The Indians adopted him as a member of their nation and many of them in turn were adopted into the family of God through his witness. For the next 50 years he was “in journeyings oft,” ever bearing fruit. In 1781, the year he was married, of the 400 Delawares among whom he labored, 315 were counted as Christians. The “apostle to the Indians,” Zeisberger produced a veritable library of linguistic and Scripture reference volumes for Indian languages.

 “Gallery of Leading Figures,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 1: Zinzendorf & the Moravians (Worcester, PA: Christian History Institute, 1982).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *