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L. von Rohden: Excerpts from The History of the Rhenish Missionary Society (1857)

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it among us and in far distant places! And just as the Lord blessed the missionary magazine, he also gave his richest blessing to the second undertaking: the founding of a missionary school, which the Barmen society began in the same year of 1825. How small, how insignificant were also its beginnings, how far removed the members were from all expansive plans. All it was is that a few preachers of the valley and a few teachers agreed to provide instruction a few times a week to those young tradesmen who felt an urge for missionary service, but who did not dare or wish to make the uncertain journey to Basel or Berlin and try and be admitted there. The friends here were all but compelled to take this step. One should only recall the intellectual physiognomy of the valley in the early 1820s, especially after 1823. These were the days when, “on account of the sword of the spirit that enthusiastic and talented preachers had been wielding for some time, a new stirring of life coursed through all parishes. The churches could not longer contain the masses of listeners who crowded in; weekday services were attended in no smaller numbers than Sunday services. Especially on Sunday evenings, the surrounding forests resounded with spiritual songs, as did the houses and workshops on weekdays. For thousands of people, the interest in religion consumed every other interest. Sociable conversation usually revolved around goings-on in the church or the truths of Holy Scripture. An expectant cheerfulness formed the basic tenor in the mood of all believers, and a lively need to pour out their hearts and exchange ideas led the awakened one to assemble in countless, intimate circles of brothers every day after their work was finished.” This is the account by an eyewitness, himself a richly blessed servant of God in that blessed time. Small wonder that a great many young men, especially those who had come to Barmen and Elberfeld from outside, drawn into the stream of life that was flowing so powerfully through the valley, sought to consecrate themselves completely to the Lord as a sacrifice in the fire of the first love and signed up for service among the heathens.

Source: L. von Rohden, Geschichte der Rheinsichen Missions-Gesellschaft (1857). Barmen: J.F. Steinhaus, 1871, pp. 1-6, 8-11.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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