On this day in 1732, Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann, the first two Moravian missionaries, arrived in Copenhagen to seek passage to the island of St. Thomas, where they were to begin missionary work.
On their jouney to Copenhagen they visited various God-fearing friends, many of whom advised them against going. Hearing of their calling and plans, these people tried hard to change the men’s minds. They sought to show them the impossibility of their ambition, and the disadvantages which lay in front of them and that at the end of their indescribable and untiring efforts there could only be certain death for them. Seeing how strongly they objected, these two pioneers did not try to contradict them, but remained true to him who had called them, assured that they could do nothing but follow their convinctions. Only one friend, the Countess von Stollberg at Wernigerode, strengthened the brethren in what they planned to do and encouraged them to venture all for Christ’s sake.
Upon arriving in Copenhagen, the reception was not any better. The royal court laughed them to scorn. The clergy though they were jokes. They were constantly told that they would only have the greatest difficulties. The people there tried to convince them of their folly, first, by saying that no ship would take them and, second, that if they ever did arrive in St. Thomas, they could not survive there. Their hope of preaching the gospel to the slaves was considered impossible.
Despite the ridicule they faced from all directions, these two young men knew that this daunting task ahead of them was impossible through the work of men. But this wasn’t a calling given by men. It wasn’t a calling for men. The work they were about to do was for one thing: the glory of the lamb who was slain. And they knew that He would do the work and protect them, even though the world fiercely ridiculed them.
Christian History Magazine-Issue 1: Zinzendorf & the Moravians. 1982. Worcester, PA: Christian History Institute.
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