This is the day that … Niklaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born, in 1700.
Born to an aristocratic German family Count Zinzendorf is described as the Rich Young Ruler who said ‘Yes’. At age 6 he impressed people with his prayers. At age 20 he felt the call do whatever Christ asked, no matter the cost. At age 22, as heir to one of Europe’s leading royal families, he opened his property to refugees.
Starting with a group of ten that arrived in December, 1722, Zinzendorf was hosting ninety by May of 1725, and over 300 by late 1726. The community was given the name “Herrnhut”, meaning “The Lord’s Watch.” In little time it grew into a small city of Christian citizenry. From here a number of missionaries went forth to evangelise. This was the beginning of the Moravian movement, which would later play a part in the conversion of John Wesley.
Zinzendorf renounced his life as a nobleman and is rightly regarded as “one of the greatest missionary statesmen of all times”.
Yet, one author speaks of his “arrogance and conceit” and the gruesome obsession” with our Lord’s physical sufferings which temporarily nearly wrecked this missionary movement (From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth Tucker).
From his pen came 2000 hymns, many of which still appear in church hymnals, including:
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
my beauty are, my glorious dress.
’midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
with joy shall I lift up my head!
The Moravian community was well organised but soon fell into jealousy, division and discord. Zinzendorf sought to address this and in August 1727 the community was moved to repentance and experienced a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Zinzendorf died in Herrnhut on 9 May, 1760.