Of Br. John Lundberg,
Missionary in Labrador, who departed this Life at Herrnhut,
May 8th,1856, in the seventy-first Year of his Age.
Periodical Accounts, Vol. 22(1856-8), 481-7
"I CAN place on record nothing that is good respecting myself;
while that which is bad is not likely to tend to edification. However,
the desire to show forth the infinite mercy of my Saviour, though even
in an imperfect manner, has caused me to determine on writing the following
brief sketch of my course through time.
"I was born on the 3rd of May, 1786, at New Herrnhut, in the island of
St. Thomas, at which station my parents were engaged in the Mission-service.
In my fifth year, I was sent, in charge of some returning Missionaries,
to Europe, in order to be educated; I remained at school until I was thirteen.
Although the system of education at that time was rather severe, yet the
years of my childhood passed, on the whole, pleasantly. Our Saviour was
often engaged in drawing my heart to Himself; and when my companions and
myself artlessly united in singing hymns, I not unfrequently experienced
"In the year 1799, I was admitted to the choir of elder boys. On this occasion,
I devoted myself, soul and body, to our Saviour, and implored Him to help
me, which He has faithfully done.
"The master, with whom I learned the carpenter's trade, treated me very
kindly, as I was weakly and little for my age, and thereby rendered my
employment easier for me.
"At that time, it was the custom, that those who had not been received
into the congregation, did not attend the liturgy on Sunday afternoons:
I much wished to be able to be present at this meeting, and, on one occasion,
when I was alone in the boys' room, at the time of service, I prayed to
our Saviour, that I might be received into the congregation. This petition
was fulfilled, the very next Sunday. Hence I was convinced that our Saviour
heard my prayers, and was encouraged to commit all my wants to His faithful
"On the 17th of March, 1800, I had the privilege to become a partaker of
the Holy Communion.
"For some time after this, I experienced little of the desires of the flesh
and of the mind. But, at length, my innate depravity was aroused by my
intercourse with one of my fellow- apprentices, who was a stranger. Being
by nature very timid, and disliking rebuke, I took pains to conduct myself
so as to give satisfaction to those with whom I had to do. But, alas, living
faith, and love to our Saviour, had no place in my heart. Yet the Spirit
of God did not cease to strive to cause me to devote myself wholly to my
"On my entering the choir of the single Brethren in 1803, I again formed
the resolution to live to our Saviour. However, I was wanting in sincerity,
and therefore yielded to the seductions of my evil heart; and, had not
my unspeakably faithful Saviour interfered, I should soon have been lost.
Through His gracious leading, I was, in 1804, commissioned to serve as
overseer of the boys, a position which was all the more trying for me,
as I had so recently entered the number of single Brethren. In the conviction
of my/482/ unsuitability I at first declined to accede to the proposal;
but on being reminded by the choir-labourer that our Saviour probably had
thoughts of peace concerning me, I was induced to accept it. Being now
doubly in need of the gracious help of the Lord, I was driven to earnest
prayer, that He would have mercy on me, and would give life to my dead
heart, so that I might first myself experience that He was my Redeemer,
and then deal with those entrusted to my care in a manner well pleasing
"In 1805, I was called to enter the boarding-school, to take part in the
care of the youngest children. My natural shyness caused me much trouble;
and when I had been helped through difficulties, I too soon, in spite of
the faithful admonitions of the Holy Spirit, forgot Him who had assisted
me. I began to read a good deal, in order to acquire useful information;
but got hold of such books, as would have led me in the way to certain
destruction. These were romances of various descriptions, the poison of
which I greedily imbibed. But thanks, eternal thanks be given to my Saviour!
Even at this period, when I had strayed from Him, He held His gracious
hand over me, and made use of suitable means for my benefit. A book fell
into my hands, in which the character of such works as I liked, and the
results sure to follow from the reading of them, were plainly and impressively
set forth. I was alarmed, and now the voice of the Holy Spirit made itself
heard in my troubled heart. I saw before me the abyss of destruction, and
cried to our Saviour to rescue me; and He was pleased to bestow comfort,
and to assure me, that I should be and abide His property, if I submitted
to be led by Him and His Spirit. The Holy Ghost took me under His discipline,
and I became better and better acquainted with my throughly depraved heart,
but at the same time was taught that the Saviour's sufferings are the remedy
for all sin. I was enabled to make complaint to Him of all that would have
estranged me from Him, and to obtain strength from His bleeding wounds.
The meetings of the congregation were a real refreshment to my heart, and
in them I obtained a renewed impression of the love of Jesus to me, poor
worm. It was my soul's desire, to be firmly grounded in Him, and to be
assured of my salvation. But He, the true Shepherd of souls, who knows
what is best for every man, said to me, when I was imploring Him to bestow
on me in a very sensible manner the forgiveness of my sins, 'My grace is
sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness!' Had
our Saviour granted my petition for a distinguished period of pardon, I
might perhaps have been satisfied with this, and then the continual longing
for His grace might have been lost. But as it was, I had to cry daily for
renewed mercy and assistance.
"My period of service in the school, and especially the last two years
and a half of it, was a very pleasant and happy time. I loved the children
under my care, and was beloved by most of them, as, although I insisted
on order, I allowed them as much liberty as I consistently could.
"On the 31st of October, 1810, I received a call to the service of the
Mission in Labrador, and at the same time the wish was expressed, that
in case our Saviour bestowed on me willingness to accept the call, I should
learn the cooper's trade before setting out. I felt assured/483/ that I
owed myself to our Saviour, and to ought to go wherever He might think
fit to send me, although the conviction of my natural unworthiness made
"I left Kleinwelke, much affected at parting with so many whom I loved,
and proceeded in the first instance to Gnadau, and employed the winter
there in making myself acquainted with the cooper's trade, and in learning
English. On the 4th of April I set out for Altona, leaving behind me all
my effects, except one small trunk containing the most necessary articles.
On arriving at Altona, I found that no vessel was allowed to leave the
harbour, and was directed to endeavour to reach Sweden by way of Stralsund,
and to proceed thence to England. At Stralsund I was informed I could not
go on to Ystadt in Sweden, as I had intended, without a Swedish passport;
and not being able to obtain the latter, after waiting eleven days, I was
advised to proceed through Denmark. This I did, and arrived by way of Copenhagen
at Helsingborg in Sweden. Thence I was ordered by the police to go to Lund,
and await my passport. I did not understand Swedish; but our Saviour ordered
it, that I was able to travel in company of a French family, one of the
members of which could speak both German and Swedish, and kindly assisted
me till we arrived at Lund. As soon as I had obtained my passport, I went
to Gothenburg, where I was kindly received by the Brethren and Sisters,
and had every assistance afforded which was required for the prosecution
of my voyage to England. At Harwich, I was obliged to wait several days
for permission from the Alien Office to proceed to London. At length, on
the 30th of May, I reached that city, and found there was time to procure
the most needful supplies, as I had little more with me than what I had
on. As the Labrador vessel and three ships bound to Hudson's Bay, were
to sail under convoy of a ship of war, we did not reach Gravesend till
June 13th, and arrived at Yarmouth on the 25th. Here we remained until
July 5th, on which day we sailed in company of about 300 vessels. On the
2nd of August the ship of war and the Hudson's Bay vessels left us, and
we sailed on alone, commending ourselves to the protection of God. The
wind was contrary, and, on the 13th, increased to a violent storm, so that
all our sails had to be taken in, while the helm was securely lashed. The
waves washed over the ship in a frightful manner, especially on the 14th,
on which day the bulwarks of the ship and several spars were carried away.
The Lord heard our prayers for the safety of the ship and the preservation
of our lives, so that on the 15th the storm abated. But what a spectacle
our ship presented! It was like a wreck, and we had been driven back 150
miles. We had fog and rain almost every day, so that the sailors were constantly
wet through. At length, by continual tacking, and with the gracious help
of the Lord, we were able to see land on the 2nd of September. Sailing
backward and forward among the icebergs, we at last reached Hopedale. On
the evening of the 3rd, we landed with feelings of hearty gratitude to
God, and were welcomed by the Missionaries all the more warmly, because
they had given up all hope of seeing the vessel this year. On the 17th,
I proceeded with the ship to Nain, the place of my destination, and was
most kindly received by my future fellow-labourers.
/484/ "The winter set in so early, that we were obliged to get in a part
of our crop of vegetables, when the ground was already covered with snow.
It was particularly trying to fell a quantity of wood under such circumstances,
as we were obliged to do. However, our Saviour made all toil easy to me,
insufficient for His service as I felt myself to be. He also enabled me
to devote my only leisure time in the mornings and evenings to the learning
of the Esquimaux language, means for the acquisition of which were at that
time very slender. I was also enabled to love the Esquimaux heartily, and
to pray for their eternal welfare. Of 154 inhabitants of the settlement
scarcely half were baptized. On the 19th of February, 1812, I was present,
for the first time, at the administration of the sacrament of baptism.
On this occasion the presence of God was so sensibly felt, that a savage
heathen, who was in the church, was affected by prevailing grace and truly
"In 1816, I was called to serve at Okak, whither I proceeded on the 1st
of October, in a large Esquimaux boat, accompanied by the Brethren Kohlmeister
and Stock. This voyage was rendered difficult and even dangerous by storms,
attended with frost and snow. On the second day our boat narrowly escaped
being shattered on a rock. Contrary winds hindered our progress, our provisions
were consumed, and, after strenuous efforts, we found ourselves unable
to round the promontory of Kiglapeit. At length, violent contrary winds
obliged us to cast anchor in a small bay near the cape. Hardly had we done
so, when the storm increased in violence, and the sea dashed over our boat,
though we were not more than 50 paces from the land. In the night of the
13th, the storm was so severe, that we were compelled to cut away the masts
of the boat, as the latter was in danger of going to pieces. But the Preserver
of men held His hand over us, heard our united prayers, and stilled the
tempest. On the 14th, we were able to erect temporary masts, and to leave
our anchorage. The wind blew gently from the south, and was therefore favourable
for the prosecution of our voyage. But it was accompanied by such heavy
snow, that we quite lost sight of the land. However, our steersman succeeded
in bringing us into a small harbour. Here we suffered from want of water,
all the streams being frozen and buried in snow. However, we at last obtained
sufficient to make a little coffee, and to refresh our Esquimaux companions
who were parched with thirst. In the evening of October 17th, we reached
the bay of Okak. It was frozen over, and we were obliged to break open
a passage for the boat. The stormy weather which had protracted our voyage,
also prevented the ship from reaching Hopedale that year.
"I soon felt quite at home at Okak, and had the privilege to devote my
services to the elder boys and single Brethren, besides taking part in
the public duties of the church. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit,
I became continually better acquainted with myself as a sinner worthy of
damnation, and with Jesus as my Saviour.
"In 1819, I was called to Nain, where I was united in holy matrimony to
my dear and faithful partner, Sr. H.A. Gorke. We covenanted together to
love our Saviour and to serve Him with all the powers bestowed on us by
/485/"In 1820, our eldest child John Eugene was born. Two other infants
were taken hence when less than a year old.
"In 1827, we visited Europe, placed our son in the boarding- school at
Kleinwelke, and spent the winter pleasantly with my wife's parents at Herrnhut.
"In the following year, we set out on our return to Labrador. During our
short stay in London, we received much kindness from our Brethren and Sisters
in that city; and our voyage was very pleasant, until we arrived off the
coast of Labrador. For some time, a dense mass of drift ice rendered it
impossible for us to approach the coast. We exerted ourselves to penetrate
it, but at length were so completely blocked up, that no water was to be
seen. After spending some time in this dangerous situation, the Lord heard
our cry, and as the ice separated, we were enabled to proceed. At length
we came to a complete barricade of ice, extending from one island to another.
A way was opened through this by the violence with which the ship, in full
sail, struck against it, happily without injury to the vessel. A second
barrier was passed in a similar manner. How true is it, that 'they that
go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see
the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep!' (Ps. cvii. 23, 24).
Next morning some Esquimaux from Okak came to us. O what joy there was
on both sides! We were not yet able to reach the harbour on account of
the drift ice. When at last we endeavoured to go forward, the wind died
away, and the sailors were obliged to tow the vessel by means of the boats.
At length, after strenuous exertions, we reached the usual anchorage. Our
further voyage to Hopedale was very agreeable.
"At Hopedale, I experienced many blessings. The Lord enabled us to gain
the confidence of the Esquimaux, and helped us in all difficulties. We
had especially much encouragement with the young people. But our residence
at Hopedale was not a long one. In 1829, I was called to Nain, to take
the general superintendence of the Mission. Knowing the difficulties connected
with this office, I would gladly have declined it. But believing it to
be the Lord's will, who had hitherto had patience with me and helped me
amid all trials, and who had caused me to enjoy the love and confidence
of my fellow-labourers, I anew submitted to His direction, entreating Him
to stand by me, to preserve me from following my own will, to guide me
by His Spirit, and to afford me grace to love all my fellow-labourers,
and to bear no malice against no one who might give me offence, whether
with or without cause, but to be ever ready to forgive, even as I needed
daily forgiveness and cleansing. This prayer, I believe, He graciously
heard and answered.
"The establishment of a fourth Mission-station at Hebron rendered it necessary
that I should go to Nain and Okak, in order to confer with the Missionaries
at both places. These journeys were performed in sledges, with great rapidity,
and freedom from injury.
"I could relate many instances of the gracious protection afforded by my
faithful Saviour, during various official journeys performed in winter,
on which I had to pass the nights in snow- houses, or even without shelter
on the frozen sea. I will only mention one of these occurrences. In the
year 1838, as I was on my return from Hebron /486/ to Okak, we were just
crossing Naparatok-Bay, when a heavy snow storm came on, and caused us
to lose sight of the land. Having reached a small island, the Esquimaux
were led to believe that we had gone too far seawards, and therefore directed
our course in an opposite direction, until we entered a narrow inlet, with
only one entrance. As it was already late, the Esquimaux built a snow-house.
In it we retired to rest, but in the night heard the howling of the storm,
and in the morning found the house half buried in snow. We could not think
of continuing our journey in such stormy weather, and when the thermometer
stood at 22ø below Fahrenheit's zero. We therefore had to pass another
night in our snow-house. Next morning the weather had cleared considerably,
and there was very little wind. When we reached the snow-house where we
should probably have spent the night, if we had not lost our way, and been
led to the other more sheltered spot, my sledge-driver remarked, 'How graciously
the Lord led us, so that we did not come hither. Only see how the storm
has shattered the house. Here we should have been quite exposed to the
wind and cold, for in such weather repairs are not to be thought of.'
"I arrived at Nain in time to assist in the erection of a new dwelling-house,
as well as at the enlargement of the church. During the performance of
the latter work, I experienced a merciful preservation of my life, a heavy
hammer failing from a considerable height, and stiking me on the head.
In 1847, I slightly injured one of my feet, which resulted in much swelling
and lameness. Other symptoms of a decay of strength supervened, and prevented
me from attending to needful duties. This obliged me to seek permission
to retire from active service; and my wish was acceded to in 1850.
"On reviewing my service of 39 years in Labrador, I cannot sufficiently
thank our Saviour for the numberless tokens of His aiding grace afforded
to me. Ashamed and deeply abashed, I can only offer the petition 'O Lord,
enter not into judgement with thy unprofitable servant! Cover all my mistakes,
my offences, and my frequent inattention to the voice of thy Holy Spirit,
with Thy atoning blood, and remain my gracious God and Saviour till the
end of my days.'
"On the 17th of August we left Nain, and sailed in the Harmony to Okak
and Hebron. At the latter place, I held my last Esquimaux meeting. We arrived
at Herrnhut on the 25th of October. At this place we had the pleasure to
have our youngest daughter, Emma, residing with us until her marriage.
Our eldest son, whom we had not seen for twenty-two years, was already
engaged in the service of the Mission on the Mosquito-Coast.
"During the early years of our residence at Herrnhut, we occasionally experienced
difficulties in regard to temporal matters. This often depressed my spirits,
and I was led to pray that my confidence in God's fatherly care might be
"In December, 1854, I experienced a distressing compression in the chest,
which, although it was subdued by the use of proper means, left such a
weakness of the lungs, as daily reminds me of my latter end.
"May I be enabled to make good use of the time of preparation for eternity
which is afforded to me, and to be always ready for my /487/ dismissal
from this life! Then, in a blissful eternity, I will praise Thee, my faithful
Saviour, for all that Thou hast done for me! Amen."
The widow of our late Brother adds the following particulars:
"After the attack referred to above, my late husband's weakness gradually
increased, and he could only leave the house in very fine weather. It was
a source of great distress to him, that he could not attend the various
meetings of the congregation. It occasionally happened at such times, that
I wished to stay at home with him, as I apprehended he might be suddenly
attacked in my absence. But he was accustomed to answer, 'Do not stay on
my account. Profit by the opportunity of obtaining spiritual edification
with the congregation, as long as it is afforded to you.'
"At length, dropsy in the chest manifested itself, and increased the sufferings
of the dear patient to such a degree, that he longed for his dissolution.
The wished-for moment, when he was permitted to leave a world of sin and
suffering, arrived on the 8th of May, 1856, a few days after he had completed
his 70th year."
(Text made available by Dr. Hans Rollmann, keyed in by Pamela Andersen).