In 1730, Count Zinzendorf told the Moravians about the urgent need for missionaries to evangelize the slaves on the Virgin Islands. Leonard Dober listened to Zinzendorf’s appeal. As he pondered God’s calling, Dober felt led to respond. God was calling him to reach out to the slaves there, so he decided to do something truly amazing. He decided to go to the Virgin Islands and sell himself as a slave in order to reach out to these people. He anticipated the horrible working conditions, but above all the degradation of slavery. No price was too high, he thought, when Jesus Christ endured persecution and died for him. So, Leonard Dober, at the age of eighteen, became the first Moravian missionary to the Virgin Island sugar plantation slaves.
He arrived in the Virgin Islands in the late 1730s, but he did not have to become a plantation slave. Instead he became a servant in the governor’s house. Soon he resigned his position, because he was concerned that this position was so superior to that of the slaves that it was detrimental to reaching them for Christ. He chose instead to live in a small mud hut where he could work one-on-one with them. In three years his ministry grew to include 13,000 new converts. Endurance brings redemption!