On this day in 1760, the first Moravian missionaries arrive in Tranquebar, a coastal town near the southeastern tip of India on the Bay of Bengal.
It was the vision of Zinzendorf that a strong mission established on Tranquebar would establish a gateway to reach the hundreds of Islands scattered throughout the Pacific. So he oversaw the commissioning and sending out of a group of fourteen men comprised primarily of skilled craftsmen and two young theologians. This group was the last sent out by Zinzendorf before his death.
The group settled in Tranquebar and, due to their holiness and honesty, established a strong relationship with the inhabitants of the colony. One of their enemies descrbed them such: “I cannot describe how the Moravians have insinuated themselves in so short a time into the good will of Danes, French and even Hindus by their voluntary humility and angel-like conduct…If they were as pure in their doctrine and teaching as their life is outwardly to the eyes of the world, there would not be a sect or race to equal them in the whole of Asia.”
Difficulties abounded at the new work. Sickness, death, and political unrest saw the mission lose 47 members over the next forty years. But they persevered on until 1803, when they decided to end the mission. The last surviving missionary, Johann Gottfried Hänsel, wrote that God “strength-ened our hearts, and comforted us by such a lively sense of His divine presence, that we were frequently filled with heavenly joy…The Lord hath done all things well, and I have lacked no good thing.”