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Friday 11 February 2022

Spirit Inspire: The Moravian Fall of Encounters | Digitalk World


This is a Story that will Inspire you to quest for more of God. Though the reformation was some two centuries behind them and the martyrdom of Jan Hus more than three hundred years in the

past, in 1722 a group of Hus’s followers from Moravia (a province in Bohemia, today part of the Czech Republic) fled to Saxony (Germany) looking for religious freedom. Driven by persecution, these “United Brethren,” as they called themselves, found sanctuary on the land of a rich, young aristocrat, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, who gave them a place to settle and to build a community of believers. The township that emerged was called Herrnhut, meaning either “on the Lord’s watch” or “under the Lord’s watch.” Because they had come to Saxony from Moravia, the group became known as the Moravians. Count Zinzendorf was a man of God who, at the time, had been actively looking for ways to use his inherited wealth and influence to serve the kingdom of heaven. In 1715, at the age of fifteen, Zinzendorf banded with four friends to form what they considered a society of Christian knighthood, which they called “The Order of the Mustard Seed.” The four vowed “1. To be true to Christ; 2. To be kind to all people; 3. To send the gospel to the world.”

Over the years, the group grew in membership to include such men as the king of Denmark, Christian VI; the Catholic archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Louis Antoine de Noailles; the archbishop of Canterbury, John Potter; a Scottish member of the British Parliament, Erskine; and eventually, after the Moravians had sent missionaries there, the governor of Georgia, General James Oglethorpe; and the Native American Chief of the Creek nation, Tomochichi. Even though the count was only twenty-two at the time, hearing the Moravians’ plea for something as simple as a place to worship freely ignited his heart. He had recently purchased from his grandmother the town of

Bethelsdorf, where he installed a close friend, Johann Andreas Rothe, to be pastor. Building a community based upon the Word of God was what he had hoped to accomplish in Bethelsdorf, and here was a group of people who shared this same determination. Desiring Rothe’s help in forming Herrnhut, Zinzendorf gave them a plot for their new village only two miles from Bethelsdorf. Accustomed to persecution, the Moravians soon wearied of the peace of Herrnhut, and with no pressure from outside, the townspeople began to turn upon one another within. Division and strife took their toll to the point that the Moravians even turned on Zinzendorf and Rothe, calling them the “Beast of the Apocalypse” and his “False Prophet.” Zinzendorf and Rothe continued to seek God and pray, and it wasn’t long before God answered. On May 12, 1727, Zinzendorf addressed the congregation at Herrnhut and spoke for three hours on the blessedness of Christian unity. Conviction took the town that summer, and everyone began seeking God for revival. 

As men, women, and children confessed their sins to one another, prayed together, and found new strength in seeking God, their hearts were knit together afresh and the community experienced a golden summer. This wasn’t enough, however. The people of Herrnhut wanted power to take the message of Christ to the ends of the earth.This became a constant subject of prayer to the point that, on August 5, 1727, Zinzendorf and fourteen other Moravian Brethren spent an entire night in seeking and interceding for God’s power to fall on their community. On August 10, Rothe was so overcome with the presence of the Holy Spirit in an afternoon service at Herrnhut that he threw himself to the ground to repent before God. The meeting continued through the night as others did likewise, crying out to God with weeping and repentance, until around midnight, when the congregation burst forth in praise, worship, and singing. Zinzendorf and Rothe then felt they should have a joint meeting between Bethelsdorf and Herrnhut that Wednesday evening, August 13, to share about what God was doing in Herrnhut. The Count visited every home in the village, urging the inhabitants to attend. Once the meeting began, the Holy Spirit took over as the congregation again fell into repentance for their sins. At one point, Count Zinzendorf took the podium to voice a remorseful confession on behalf of the entire community for the division they had seen in the previous years and to call for a rededication to the principles upon which the town had first been founded. 

Once that was voiced, the Holy Spirit fell on the congregation. Count Zinzendorf later described it as “a day of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit…; it was its Pentecost.”2 The congregation began praying for groups still under persecution, for unity in their community, and for the body of Christ the world over—and to increasingly intercede that the Word of God would spread mightily around the world. Just two weeks later, on August 27, twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted together to begin praying around the clock. They agreed that one man and one woman in different places would pray in twenty-four one-hour shifts that would fill each hour of the day, every day of the week, and every week of the year. They would pray for whatever God put on their hearts, but mostly for revival and the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every corner of the earth. It was a prayer vigil that would last for the next one hundred years and would be the womb from which revival would be born. 

That century of prayer would see the greatest missionary outreaches the world had yet experienced as well as the First and Second Great Awakenings. In fact, the Great Earthquake of 1727 came just months after the Moravians began praying, an event many historians note as the beginning of the First Great Awakening, while Charles Finney’s Rochester revival at the height of the Second Great Awakening and the National Revival of 1831 happened around the time their prayer vigil ended. It was also the era in which the revivalists—a new form of mass evangelists—were born. Here are their stories.

Excerpt From " God's General: The Revivalists"

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