Sunday, May 9, 2010
10 May: Bishop Nicholas Ludwig, Count Zinzendorf
Nikolaus Ludwig Graff von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (26 May 1700 in Dresden- 9 May 1760 in Herrnhut) (Nicholas Count Zinzendorf)
Nicholas, Count Zinzendorf was born in Dresden in 1700. He was very much a product of his time. Nicholas found the Lutheran Church (Dresdener Landes Kirche) to be rather dry. Influenced by his pietist grandmother, he found a joy in Christianity that seemed to be lacking in the Lutheran church of the time. Even in childhood he had a deep faith, and in adolescence struggled with whether to follow the Gospel or to fulfill his responsibilities to the king of Dresden as Count. At this time he established the Order of the Grain of Mustard Seed, a group in which the young men involved promised to use their position to further the Gospel. He later reordered the group as an adult, and such men as the King of Denmark, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Paris joined.
During his grand tour, he saw the painting ecce homo by Domenico Fette. The legend below the painting stated: "This have I done for you - Now what will you do for me?"
Count Zinzendorf felt that Christ himself was speaking to him and dedicated himself to the cause of Christ.
He married Erdmuth Dorothea von Reuss and took upon his duties at the royal court of Dresden. During this period, a group of Moravian Christians asked for refuge which he granted, and they formed the village of Herrnhut (the Lord’s Watch) on his land. Count Zinzendorf read about the early Unity movement and was impressed. His Moravians went through some serious divisions, and in 1727 Count Zinzendorf retired from public service to reunite them. Through daily Bible readings, they developed the Brotherly Agreement in which all secular activities were subordinated to spreading the Gospel. His communities were unusual in promoting equality of women, and having nobles and peasants working side by side. August 27, 1727 also marked another mile stone. They committed to pray 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for mission. That prayer group continued for more than 100 years and probably is the reason Moravian missions were so successful.
Hernnhut, under the leaderhip of Bishop Zinzendorf sent out missionaries to slaves in the west Indies, to South America, to the US Amerindians, to the Inuit of Greenland and Labrador, to Suriname, South Africa, Lyvonia, and Egypts. Bishop Zinzendorf’s missions often had an interesting twist. For the most part they worked in areas with no Christian presence. Once having developed the mission, they would often hand it over to another church, such as the Baptists or Methodist. In fact, while John Carey is called the father of modern missions, that name really should go to Count Zinzendorf.
In addition to managing Herrnhut, Bishop Zinzendorf had a wide ranging ministry and infected many people with a true love of God, dedicated to helping others, and helping men of means to dedicate themselves to proclaiming the Gospel.