Count Zinzendorf: On Mission for God

by Stephen Jackson

Mission has and will continue to be of significant relevance for Christians, and rightly so!

After all… 

  • It was Jesus who, with all authority, commissioned his followers to make and multiply disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).  
  • It was Jesus who instructed his followers to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15) 
  • It was Jesus who promised his followers “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) 


Thankfully, we are not the first to consider application of these passages to the  primary functions of our lives. Our God delights to work through men and women to accomplish this shared mission: seeing His Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven. Today, we benefit from those who have gone before us carrying this mission forward geographically and generationally.  


One such missional community worth considering are the Moravians. A community ignited in spirit-led revival, who carried the gospel to unreached areas across the globe through the 1700s.  But to consider the accomplishments of the Moravians it is necessary for us to also examine the life of Count Nikolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf. 

Count Nikolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf   


Born into a noble family in Saxony Germany, It was Nikolaus’ grandmother who introduced him to Christ and set a foundation of spiritual disciplines in his life. Nikolaus’ family was of considerable wealth. They were the type of family who owned both a summer castle and a winter castle. Nikolaus was taught to oversee the affairs of the estate including the local economy and the businesses that supported that economy. Upon his completion of university, Zinzendorf traveled the world to become “cultured” as all wealthy noblemen did at this time. It was on this cultural tour when Nikolaus found himself in Düsseldorf visiting an art gallery. Completely fixated, Nikolaus was unable to look away from one painting. He starred for what seemed like hours at the painting of Dominica Feti, Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”).  

Dominica’s painting was of Christ before the crucifixion, the spotless lamb being led to the slaughter.  Zinzendorf, one of the most wealthy and powerful heirs to a noble family, could not look away from this picture of his suffering savior.  The couplet at the bottom of the painting read: 

“All this I have done for thee, what hast thou done for me?”  


In that moment, Nikolaus committed to fully surrender his life to serve Jesus Christ. He put it this way: 

“I have but one passion—it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field, and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.” – Count Ludwig Von Zinzendorf


Zinzendorf’s surrender was quickly put to action.  Shortly after his return to Saxony he was met by a group of Moravians seeking refuge from the dangers of the religious wars raging during that time. These Moravians humbly asked Nikolaus to live on his estate so they could worship without fear of persecution.  Zinzendorf was eager to oblige them. They soon came in droves to establish the town of Herrnhut.  Farming, leather working, weaving, carpentry, pottery, blacksmithing were just a few of the Faith-Driven Businesses that were established to support the local community.  


The culture at Herrnhut was similar to that of the early church in Acts chapter 2 where they devoted themselves to the study of God’s Word, fellowship and prayer.  So much so that the Holy Spirit moved on this group in an incredible way during one of their prayer gatherings. What started as a local prayer meeting continued for a full day, then a full week, then a full month without ceasing… a non-stop 24hr prayer chain that eventually lasted for 100 years. Yes, 100 years of unceasing prayer!  Through this Holy Spirit filled prayer the Moravians began sending out teams to carry the gospel, the good news of the Kingdom of God, to the ends of the earth.  Dober & Nichman were the first two sent out from the Moravians. The community gathered around their boat as they were commissioned off.  These Moravian men were even willing to sell themselves as slaves to reach the enslaved communities on st. Thomas.  Dober & Nichman on the boat. Moravians crowded on the pier.  As the story goes the two men raised their fists into the sky and shouted, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the full payment for His suffering!”…. 


Revelation 5:9

“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…'”  


The rallying cry of the moravians quickly stirred others to volunteer to go. The Moravians sent groups to St. Thomas, & St. Croix, to Greenland, and even to the new colonies in America. A community fully focused on accomplishing the mission of God!  


What I find profoundly interesting is the methodology in which the Moravians engaged the nations with the good news of Jesus Christ. Count Zinzendorf served as a patron for this movement, and he did so very strategically.  Often he would invest in real estate, purchasing large tracts of land in the areas where the Moravians were looking to go next. Then Nikolaus would supply the seed capital for carpenters, leatherworkers, farmers, blacksmiths and the like to move and establish businesses to support their mission efforts. This was done in conjunction with educators and of course, pastors and evangelists.   Do you see it?… pastors and practitioners, evangelists and entrepreneurs, faith-driven investors and Christian businessmen, all working together to advance the kingdom of God. 


The impact of the Moravians and Count Nikolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf is still evident around the world today.  Count Zinzendorf will be remembered as a man who stewarded his life and resources for the Glory of God and the good of the unreached.  Many will be rejoicing with us in heaven because of the obedient life of Count Zinzendorf, a Steward Investor in the 18th century. What will you be remembered for?  


As Steward Investors, we have a right understanding of our role as stewards of the resources entrusted to us to manage.  These resources have been entrusted to us for a reason and a season.  We know that the Lord is the true owner and that we are His Oikonomos.  We long to hear “Well Done” from the only voice that matters.  It is in this place of longing to faithfully accomplish the will of our Master that we find ourselves zealous to see great commission and great commandment outcomes through our generous giving (YES and we should be giving more generously and in tax advantaged ways), and likewise we are eager to see great commission and great commandment outcomes accomplished through our  Faith-Driven investing. 


Jesus, we want to be your men and women forever. We want to surrender to you fully, the way Count Zinzendorf did. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. May we not truly rest until we see the lamb that was slain, our King who forever reigns, receiving the full payment for His suffering.


For further study consider reading Chapter 5: What is a Missional Business? of “The Steward Investor: Investing God’s Resources for Eternal Impact” by Don Simmons. 


Interested to learn more? New Groups will be launching soon for The Steward Investor Master Class.  Pull up a chair and join a small group of faith-driven investors who are eager for Kingdom Impact through their investments. 

The works included in this post are in the public domain in the United States because they were published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1928.