David Zeisberger: A Life among the Indians

By David Zeisberger; Earl P. Olmstead | Go to book overview

Preface

DAVID ZEISBERGER is a relatively unknown historical character. Yet he has been judged "A Candle of Hope," lighting the way to a better way of life for a substantial number of Native Americans whose lives he touched.

David Zeisberger was a zealot, like many other missionaries of his time. James Axtell, in The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America, explains that, "Christianity, from its inception, has been an evangelical and proselytizing religion. Jesus Christ preached the spiritual conquest of the world and both the Old and New Testament relate the epic story ending in the Last Day of Judgment. Conversion is essential to its very nature and missionaries are the life blood of its survival."

In 1732, the Moravian Church became the first Protestant church to dedicate itself to mission work, and Zeisberger was one of its most distinguished evangelists. For sixty-three years he lived and worked among Native Americans. None of his contemporaries approached this record. He loved the Indians, and they returned his affection; otherwise he would have been forced to leave their villages long before his death in 1808.

Zeisberger's approach was distinctly different from that of most missionaries who lived among the Indians during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He loved the Indians, spoke their language fluently, and admired

-xvii-

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