This post has been stewing for awhile… a long while! The video below has been quite an inspiration to us and we still get teary-eyed when we listen to it! We first watched this several years ago, and then recently Brett reminded me of it and mentioned he had some thoughts stirring in his head. So of course I asked him to write them all out for a blog post! Thanks sweetheart for taking the time to put your thoughts together in order to share with everyone!
Brett calls this Part 1 of our “Our Conviction.” Watch the video first and then read his thoughts below! You will be blessed- Alyson
During the great movement of the Holy Spirit among the Moravians in Denmark, in the early eighteenth-century, two great missionaries emerged. John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman became the first among a great number of the Moravian missionaries. These two men, so moved by the Holy Spirit, gave up everything for the sake of Christ’s name among the people and slaves of the West Indies.
These men had heard of the slaves living and working on the islands of St Thomas and others in the West Indies. They had heard of their brutal working conditions and the cruel treatment they endured from their masters. They had heard that the name of Jesus Christ had never been spoken to them, and there was no presence of the Gospel around them. It did not take long for John and David to recognize the reality that these slaves would live and die having never heard the name of Jesus Christ. These men, so moved by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, passionately sold what they had and prepared to take the great news of our Lord to these men and women living in slavery and bondage.
However, John and David’s plan was not to raise funds, go for a time and then return to their church and report on what they had been able to share and do. No, these men left their jobs, families, friends, and fellowship and sold themselves into slavery. John, a potter, and David, a carpenter, planned to sell themselves into the same bondage the people their hearts were burdened for lived in. These men had no idea if they would ever return to their country or family and friends. These men left, amidst great opposition from their families and acquaintances, because the Holy Scriptures and Holy Spirit compelled them.
The Spirit of God had spurred their hearts as they saw the life of Christ. John and David recognized the depth of their sin, and they recognized the great chasm Christ had lifted them from, reconciling them in relationship with their holy God. These men committed their lives fully to the service of their King, because their King had committed himself fully to them. These men were compelled to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to go, laying down their lives, counting them as loss for the great privilege of honoring their Lord and God.
Despite the constant opposition and attempts at dissuading them from leaving by friends and family, John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman boarded a ship on October 8, 1732 to travel to the island of St. Thomas in the West Indies. The reports of witnesses on the shore that day say that as the ship pulled away from the docks, with their families in tears begging them to reconsider, the two men linked arms. One of the men raised his hand to heaven and shouted, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”
The example of these two men initiated the great missionary movement among the Moravians, spurring many to give their lives and all they possessed to take the great news of Christ to many far-reaching peoples of the globe. The Moravians lived out the parable of the hidden treasure Christ shares in Matthew 13:44, selling all they had, even their very lives to obtain the treasure worth more than anything else. The Moravians lived the truth of Matthew 16:25, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (ESV).
The example and words of John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman inspired the song by Matt Pappa, “The Reward of His Suffering” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXTYsY7XqNU.
The Lord has used this song in powerful ways in my heart. Still, to this day, I weep every time I hear it. My heart humbly rejoices in our great King, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality of God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8). “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV).
In Revelation 5, we are shown a picture of the throne room in Heaven. “And … I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain… And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’ ”
Many people have asked us why we would leave our families, friends, house and community. We have been questioned why we would quit our jobs, regular paychecks, financial security (even financial excess), and physical safety to go to the unknown in a foreign country. We have been questioned why we would leave our hobbies and physical comforts to live among a different people with different customs and help those living in poverty. We have been told, “I could never do that”. We have been told we are making the biggest mistake of our lives.
We are going to Romania because we are called by our King to go. We are leaving the familiar to go to the unfamiliar because the call of Scripture is clear, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel,” (Mark 16:15 ESV). We have prayed for years Luke 10:2, “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest,” (ESV). And we now know that he is calling us to be those laborers. And we are not submitting reluctantly, with regret, with frustration, or apprehension. We go joyfully, knowing that the Lord has called us to an eternal home. We go because we consider the worship and glory due the name of Christ as worth more than what this world has to offer us. The Lord has helped and is continuing to help our hearts to consider the things of this world as nothing compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, (Philippians 3:8, ESV).
We fully recognize that our sacrifice and calling is nothing like that of John Leonard Dober or David Nitschman. We live in a day and time of world-connectivity. We will have email, FaceTime, Skype, telephone, and overseas flights. If an emergency struck, we could be back in the US within 24 hours or less. We have knowledge of world events and threats of harm, typically before they occur or shortly after. We have modern medicine and many varied resources.
These men leave a legacy from a different time, when taking the Gospel to the world was literally WRITING A BLANK CHECK with your lives.
I’ll continuing writing more thoughts on this topic for the second post in this series, Part 2/2 of “Our Conviction.”