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

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especially the “News of the Spread of the Kingdom of Jesus,” which was published in informal booklets and was translated from English missionary journals by the venerable Peltzer, the president of the association, who even at the age of sixty-six was learning the English language in order to do so. Needless to say, since there was little interest in the mission, this booklet sold very few copies. By contrast, the short tractates, sermons, speeches, and songs which the association published from time to time sold out more quickly, especially a series of so-called village talks, which had to be reprinted several times. Moreover, in 1802, emulating what the London association was doing, the members of the small association agreed to acquire a number of New Testaments and hymnals for distribution to needy confirmation students, “so that in this way, too, the word of God is spread among those who are closest to us.” This was vigorously applauded, and it did not stop with the distribution to confirmation students; preachers, school teachers, and family fathers ordered and received bibles. Bibles were sent as far as Hesse and Lippe, Silesia, even Austria and Hungary, and at the same time the “News of the Kingdom of Jesus” made its way to Denmark and North America. That was in 1805. At that time the association of twelve men was in its heyday. And yet how small and limited it all was. The income was only 345 Thaler, of which two-thirds belonged to the missionary fund, one-third to the bible fund. But then came the terrible year 1806, which paralyzed all external activity; this was followed by the even more difficult years 1809-1812, and the members of the association, left without any outside support, plagued by heavy worries of their own, often prevented by the need of the moment from even attending meetings, could now do nothing more than what they had primarily joined together for at the very beginning, to pray, to pray ever more fervently for the spread of the Kingdom of God. And that is what they did, with uncommon faithfulness. During all the unrest of war and change of rulers (how rapidly the men succeeded each other on the ducal throne of the Bergische Land, first Karl Theodor of Pfalz Neuburg from the house of Bavaria, next Max Joseph of Zweibrücken, Duke Wilhlem of Bavaria, then Joachim Murat, Louis Napoleon, the Russian general governors, and finally Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm) we see these splendid old men gathering regularly for the ever repeated plea: Lord, let your kingdom come! The turmoil of war must not invade their peaceful meetings; the terrible newspaper reports, their own sad experiences simply compel the even more sustained and fervent prayer that out of all this misery and confusion, the Lord shall help his cause and his people to victory. And was such faithful prayer not splendidly answered?

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