An Overwhelming Flood of Grace – Unexpected Power in Germany

An Overwhelming Flood of Grace – The Moravians

Before the breakthrough of evangelism and mission which is commonly called The Great Awakening, there were already significant movements of revival. One of the significant influences on Whitefield and the Wesleys was that of the Moravian preachers and teachers.

Jan Huss, pre-Reformation leader and martyr
Jan Huss, pre-Reformation leader and martyr

The roots of the Moravian (from the province of Moravia, modern Czech Republic) church go all the way back to pre-Reformation days to John Huss, the leader and martyr from Prague.

A Pilgrim Community
They were, like Huss before them, considered heretics at that time.  But even after the Reformation they had trouble on all sides. They didn’t fit comfortably with state church structures and became a kind of refugee community of faith, seemingly unable to settle peacefully even in Reformation countries.

They were persecuted and driven out of many places as they preached the gospel and built their homes.

Finally, after two hundred long years of wandering, in 1722 these religious refugees gathered at Herrnhut in Saxony (Germany) under the oversight of the godly and gracious Count Nicholas Zinzendorf.

Count Zinzendorf
Count Zinzendorf

Disunity
This group were made up from several church backgrounds although some were from The United Brethren (a kind of remnant of the ‘original’ Moravians). They sought to live together in peace after so much persecution. But there were sharp disagreements amongst them.  Zinzendorf had laboured to bring the various factions together for a Wednesday morning communion service on August 13 1727.

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
The squabbles came to an end when, after confessing their sins and seeking to be reconciled to each other, the Holy Spirit unexpectedly and suddenly fell on all of them.  This was a tangible experience of power they had not previously known.

Zinzendorf described this day as ‘our Pentecost’. Christian David, one of their greatest evangelists, said:

‘It is truly a miracle of God that out of so many kinds and sects as Catholics, Lutheran, Reformed, Seperatist, Gichtelian and the like, we could have been melted into one.’  (R.E. Davies – I will pour out My Spirit, Monarch, UK p.76)

Various descriptions of these ‘baptisms of the Spirit’ have been recorded:
Zinzendorf wrote, ‘We saw the hand of God and His wonders…
The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst.
From that time scarcely a day passed but that we beheld His Almighty workings amongst us.’

An Overwhelming Flood of Grace
‘A great hunger after the Word of God took possession of us so that we had to have three services every day: 5am, 7am and 9pm…an overwhelming flood of grace swept us all out into the great ocean of Divine Love.’  (ibid p.77)

God is able to overcome our limitations. The power of the Holy Spirit fell mightily on a disunited, grumbling and hounded people. And what began as a localised ‘Pentecost’, with manifestations of God’s power and presence in a small community, soon sparked a major church planting movement.

Read the second part of the Moravian story: The Missional Impact of an Outpouring of the Spirit here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

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5 thoughts on “An Overwhelming Flood of Grace – Unexpected Power in Germany

  1. Steve Miles April 20, 2009 / 2:20 pm

    Thanks for this post Lex. I remember reading about he Moravians years ago in Church history. What a great move of God. This is one of my favorite pieces of church history. How exciting to see God and work and to see the missionary advance because of it. Thanks again for these wonderful snippets from our history!

  2. Chris Young April 21, 2009 / 5:36 am

    Thanks Lex. Quote appropriate for the churches in New Plymouth at the moment – we are having a combined churches Pentecost service next month and many of us are hungry for an outpouring of God’s power!

  3. Al Shaw April 21, 2009 / 10:01 am

    I’m with Steve on this one – one of the most amazing moves of God in history, full of encouragement for today.

    Thanks for posting.

  4. Martin Winter May 17, 2009 / 3:18 pm

    Having grown up in Herrnhut myself, I humbly suggest you correct the spelling in both the article and the tags to include two “r”s so it may be more easily found.

    I am very interested in your blog since I have been on a journey from Moravian to Charismatic and now rather Reformed theology. So thanks!

  5. Joanna Stricker July 2, 2012 / 4:56 pm

    Three things caught my attention about this article. One was the reference to the United Brethren Church, which had some family history and I’ve found interesting, historically speaking, in recent books I read; two, was that God visited after they had reconciled and asked forgiveness; and three, the best part–‘an overwhelming flood of grace”. The need for God’s revealed message of grace has lately been on my mind as I seek to pray for churches in Pacific NW. Thank you for your posts, looking at the past can drive the prayers and hopes of the present and future!

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