Sermon Illustrations

Imagine that you have a big house and lots of land. Imagine further that a refugee shows up at the door asking if he might camp out in your backyard for a while. You are moved with compassion and grant him permission. A little later he asks if some relatives, who are also homeless, might also come and live on your property. What are you to do? How can you turn them away? So again you say yes. But then more come and more come. Soon there are hundreds. What have you gotten yourself into; you begin to wonder?

Something like that happened to a 22-year-old German nobleman in 1722. His name was Niklaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. His estate was in East Germany. He was heir to one of Europe’s leading royal families. As you might expect his neighbors were not too pleased with the “riff-raff” that was finding asylum on his property. It began with ten in December 1722 and by late 1726 it was over 300. The place was known as “Herrnhut” meaning “The Lord’s Watch.” It soon turned into a small city of grateful and motivated Christian craftsmen and laypeople.

That crowded refugee estate became in time the most dynamic and strategic missionary launching pad since the early church. A deep outpouring of the Holy Spirit came on the community in August 1727. They organized a 24-hour prayer chain. At least two people were at prayer every hour of the day. This prayer meeting would last over 100 years. They became known by the nickname “God’s Happy People.”

Anthony, a former slave, came to speak at Herrnhut of the deplorable conditions of the slaves in the West Indies. The night he spoke, two of their young men could not sleep as they struggled with a sense that God was moving their hearts to offer themselves to go and minister to the slaves. When they were told that perhaps the only way they could do this was to become...

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