DAVID ZEISBERGER

Missionary and Friend to Native Americans

David Zeisberger was only five years old in 1726 when his parents fled religious persecution in Moravia and joined a group of other Moravian Brethren who had found refuge on the estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf in Germany. As the Moravian community grew, they sent out missionaries to take the Gospel to oppressed people all over the world.

At age fifteen, David joined his parents who had migrated to the Colony of Georgia in the New World (America). David thrived on pioneer life. He also had a gift of languages and had the opportunity to return to be educated in Europe. But he declined, saying his only desire was to be "truly converted to Christ and to serve Him in this country."

The 1700s were a time of upheaval in North America as British and French battled for land and the loyalty of various Indian tribes, and later as the Americans fought the Revolutionary War against Britain to establish the United States. But David Zeisberger won the respect of the Indians because he was straightforward and didn’t deceive or cheat them as other whites did. He lived among them, learned their languages, and became their advocate and friend. As the Indians became believers, they formed villages of "Moravian Indians.

The Moravian missionaries and these Christian Indians were both admired for their peaceful, thriving villages, and hated because they refused to take sides between Indians and whites. Twice David was imprisoned by the British who thought he must be a French spy. Time and time again, the little bands of Moravian Indians were driven from place to place and suffered terrible massacres—once at the hands of hostile Indians and once at the hands of vengeful white settlers.

But the Moravian mission continued, succeeding where others failed because they preached only the Gospel of Jesus and did not represent the interests of any earthly country. David Zeisberger died in 1808 at the age of eighty-seven and is buried in Goshen, Ohio.

1997 Dave and Neta Jackson, Hero Tales, Vol. II