On this month of graduations, Dr. Jeff Hittenberger, Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, shows how education and mission can come together.
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John Amos Comenius was a young teacher, pastor, and scholar, serving the small Christian community known as the Moravian Brethren (heirs of the Reformation legacy of John Hus). When the religious wars of the early 1600s swept through what is now the Czech Republic, his wife and children were killed, as were many other Moravian believers. Comenius led a small band of survivors across the border into Poland.
Comenius (1592-1670) would live the rest of his life in exile, shepherding the fragmented Moravian church. During 42 years of exile, Comenius became one of the world’s most recognized scholars and its preeminent educator. He advised kings, established dialogues with philosophers like Descartes, authored 150 books, and revolutionized European education with his ideas about teaching. Among other radical ideas: his notion that girls as well as boys should be educated and that all children, poor as well as rich, should go to school. Comenius’s influence was so great that he was invited to be the first President of Harvard College, but refused so that he could continue to serve his exiled church.
Today, Comenius is remembered as the father of modern education. What is less well known is Comenius’s role in launching the modern missionary movement. Two generations after Comenius’s death, the scattered Moravians were re-gathered in Herrnhut, Germany by Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf. Drawing on the writings of Comenius, the Moravians established a community deeply devoted to prayer, launching a round-the-clock prayer meeting that lasted for 100 years!
In 1727, a visitation of the Holy Spirit, known as ‘the Moravian Pentecost,’ empowered the Moravians to undertake a global missionary movement that changed the world for Christ. Especially notable (and controversial) were their missions to live with, evangelize, and educate the Africans who had been taken as captives to the Americas.
In Comenius and the Moravians, we see the power of God integrating spirit, mind and heart. Through Comenius and the Moravians, God brought redemption to millions of lives. May God likewise bless us with faith, learning, and a life that brings Him glory!”
To connect with Dr. Hittenberger, email firstname.lastname@example.org