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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: October 7, 2013.

Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was from a noble German family.

While on his “Grand Tour,” in which young aristocrats were introduced to royal courts around Europe, Nicolas viewed in the Dusseldorf museum a painting by Domenico Feti depicting Christ’s suffering.

Titled “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”), the painting had a caption underneath, “This have I done for you-Now what will you do for me?”

Young Count Zinzendorf was moved in a profound way.

Convicted, he came to an intensely personal faith in Christ. In 1722, he opened up his estate at Berthelsdorf, Saxony, for persecuted Christians of Europe to come and live together.

People arrived from Moravia, Bohemia (Czech Republic) and other areas, and built a village on his estate called Herrnhut.

When they started disagreeing amongst themselves, 27-year-old Count Zinzendorf began a prayer meeting, August 13, 1727, which went on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and, with believers taking turns, the prayer meeting went on uninterrupted for over 100 years.

Count Zinzendorf stated: “I have one passion: it is Jesus, Jesus only.”

The Moravians sent out more missionaries in the next 20 years than all Christendom had in the previous 200 years.

Moravian missionaries went all over the world, including Greenland, West Indies, to American Indians, the northern shores of the Baltic, to the slaves of South Carolina, to Suriname, to Negro slaves in South America, to Tranquebar and Nicobar Islands in the East Indies, to the Copts in Egypt, to the Inuit of Labrador, and to the west coast of South Africa.

Moravian missionaries went to the colony of Georgia in America where their sincere faith greatly affected John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism.

Through the Wesleys, the Moravian influence was felt by George Whitefield, who helped lead the Great Awakening Revival in the American colonies.

In 1741, Count Zinzendorf visited America, hoping to unify the various German Protestants churches in Pennsylvania.

On Christmas Eve, 1741, Count Zinzendorf founded Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There his daughter, Benigna, organized a school which became Moravian College.

Count Zinzendorf traveled with the German Indian agent and interpreter Conrad Weiser into the wilderness to meet with Iroquois Indian chieftains, making him one of the few European noblemen to do so.

Conrad Weiser’s daughter married a young German minister, Henry Muhlenberg, one of the founders of the Lutheran Church in America.

Henry Muhlenberg became pastor of fifty German families at the Old Trappe Church in Pennsylvania, December 12, 1742.

In 1751, he founded Trinity Lutheran Church in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Henry Muhlenberg was influenced by the Pietist movement within Lutheranism which stressed that belief in Christ was more than just adhering to an orthodox doctrine but also involved an individual change of heart.

Whereas Calvinist Puritans believed God had a will for everything including government and that it was a Christian’s duty to participate, Pietists’ strong emphasis on personal faith in Christ led some to view government as part of the fallen world which believers should avoid.

It was therefore a major step for Henry Muhlenberg’s son, John Peter Muhlenberg, pastor of Emanuel Church in Woodstock, Virginia, to join General George Washington’s army with 300 members of his church to become the 8th Virginia Regiment.

John Peter was promoted to Major-General in the Continental Army, then elected to the U.S. Congress and Senate.

Another of Henry Muhlenberg’s sons, Frederick, was pastor of a Lutheran congregation in New York. Frederick became active during the Revolution and afterwards was elected to the U.S. Congress, becoming the first Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Both John Peter and Frederick were members of the First Session of U.S. Congress which passed the First Amendment to the Constitution.

As Speaker of the House, Frederick Muhlenberg was the first signer of the Bill of Rights.

Pastor Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who died OCTOBER 7, 1787, wrote of General George Washington at Valley Forge in “The Notebook of a Colonial Clergyman,” stating:

“I heard a fine example today, namely that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each to fear God, to put away wickedness…and to practice Christian virtues.”

Rev. Muhlenberg continued:

“From all appearances General Washington does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God’s Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness.

Therefore, the Lord God has also singularly, yea, marvelously preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues, etc., and has hitherto graciously held him in his hand as a chosen vessel.”




William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.

To learn more about the author please visit  William Federer


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