“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” – Revelation 5:12
In 1731 a young Moravian named Leonard Dobar heard of the despicable condition of slaves on the Danish island of St. Thomas. Antony Ulrich, a former West Indian slave, poured out the details of their condition. “He spoke pathetically of his sister Anna, of his brother Abraham, and of their fervent desire to hear the Gospel.” The thought of three thousand slaves living in deplorable conditions without access to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ left Dobar restless and convinced that he was to go as a missionary to reach them. Ulrich explained that the only way for a person to have access to the slaves was to become a slave himself. Dober agreed and at three o’clock in the morning on August 21st, 1732, the birthday of Moravian Missions, Leonard Dobar and David Nitschmann left their homes at Hernhutt intending to sell themselves into slavery in order to reach the lost slaves on the island of St. Thomas.
What motivated these two young men from Moravia to leave their family and friends, move across the ocean and sell themselves into slavery?
The Moravian community from Herrenhut came to see the two lads off, who would never return again, having freely sold themselves into a lifetime of slavery. As a member of the slave community, they would witness as Christians to the love of God. Family members were emotional, weeping. Was their extreme sacrifice wise? Was it necessary? As the ship slipped away with the tide and the gap widened. The housings had been cast off and were curled up on the pier. The young men saw the widening gap. They linked arms, raised their hands and shouted across the spreading gap, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”
The motivating force behind the Moravian missionary movement was for the slain Lamb of God to receive the reward of His suffering. They left home, sold their possessions, and sacrificed everything so that God could be worshipped in a place where He was not known. Their passion grew out of a love for the Lamb of God who had been slain for all of humanity. Reidhead continues, “this became the call of Moravian missions. And this is our only reason for being…that the Lamb that was slain may receive the reward of His suffering!”
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