Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf

Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf

Dresden, Stadtkreis Dresden, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany
Death 9 May 1760 (aged 59)
Herrnhut, Landkreis Görlitz, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany
Burial Herrnhut, Landkreis Görlitz, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany
Memorial ID 29280722 View Source

Count von Zinzendorf is considered the man beginning the Protestant World Mission movement as we know it today. He is a major link in specific Christian lineage starting with the original Apostles to St. Francis of Assisi, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, the Wesley brothers, Francis Asbury, et al., in the restoration and transformation of the church. His beliefs were directed away from the intellectualism of the state sanctified Lutheran church, and his faith was formed on the Bible's admonition of transformation and salvation through an individual's personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Born in Dresden and raised by a Pietistic grandmother in Gros Hennersdorf castle, her influence challenged Ludwig's role and identity as a noble. In his youth, he founded the "Grain of Mustard Seed," a society which he later reinstated and which influential European leaders joined, including the King of Denmark and the Archbishops of Paris and Canterbury. His personal commitment to Christ came when he saw Domenico Feti's painting "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man), which asked what would he do for Christ in light of what Christ did for him?

Ludwig's creative and innovative methods were due to not having preconceived notions and orthodox seminary training, but created through prayer. By taking an active role in church restoration, Ludwig was an integral part of the Moravian Pentecost in Herrnhut ("the Lord's Watch"), in which the Holy Spirit transformed persecuted refugees to become Moravian missionaries and to be sent to the American colonies in 1732.

Among other things, Ludwig believed in the Biblical ordination of women to take an active role in the church. He also met John and Charles Wesley (Anglican founders of Methodism), both of who were influenced by Ludwig.

On his journey to the colonies, Ludwig preached in St. Thomas, V.I. and to the Indian tribes in the colonies -- the first of any nobility to do so.

Like the other missionaries sailing before, a group of fifty-three Germans from and around the town of Freudenberg, sailed to Savannah, Georgia in the spring of 1738, to do missionary work for the Count. But because they did not like the weather there (and for other reasons) they left Georgia and walked to PA. Some settled in VA and other places, but some of them made it to PA, where the Count later joined them. There he founded the city of Bethlehem in 1742 and the Renewed Church of the Moravian Brethren, uniting dozens of shepherdless Lutheran and Reformed congregations into one union. It was there also that the first Moravian College was built.

In the same year also, while on a circuit through the German districts of Pennsylvania, Zinzendorf preached at the house of Eberhard Riehm, and on his recommendation, the Brethren fixed upon the settlement of Muddy Creek (Lancaster Co.) as the seat of a domestic mission. As the majority of people were Calvinists, the Rev. Jacob Lischy was sent among them [see Lischy memorial].

His cemetery grave is actually in Herrnhut, part of his estate in Bethelsdorf, but there is no FAG selection for the place.
[Parts of this biography were made possible by the research of William DeCoursey and the Moravian Historical Society from its "Transactions," vol.1, pp.393-397,404; and William J. Hinke's "History of the Muddy Creek Reformed Congregations" (1932), pp.5-7,13,24.]