Richter, Johann Heinrich

Richter, Johann Heinrich, inspector in the missionary institute at Barmen, Germany, under whose administration the missions of the Rhenish Missionary Society were established, was born at Belleben Dec. 11, 1799, and entered on the duties of the station in which he spent his life May 28, 1827. The Barmen Missionary Society did not as yet send out missionaries, nor even own a house, but a number of young men were trained under its direction for work among the heathen. Richter subsequently, aided by his brother William, became their instructor, and after about eighteen months was able to report the readiness of four of his pupils to begin their expected labors. The poverty of the Barmen association now induced them to invite other local societies to aid in forwarding the candidates to their foreign fields, and as a result the Rhenish Missionary Society was organized. Its first mission was among the slaves of the Boers in South Africa, which, in course of time, extended over five stations. Another was begun on the island of Borneo in 1834, but failed to achieve successful results while Richter lived; and a third, among the Indians of North America, was likewise unsuccessful; but the latter gave rise to a flourishing mission among the evangelical Germans of America. Richter's ardent soul was continually employed in devising new means for the extension of Christianity. He was incessantly busy with his pen, issuing reports, spreading information through the periodical press, editing the Monatsberichte d. rhein. Missions-Gesellschaft, etc., and with public appeals in sermons and addresses in every section of the land. The institution of a society to preach the Gospel to the Jews was his work, and also the establishing of a German mission in China, which came to pass but a short time previous to his death. Richter was twice married, and became the father of a large family. A brief sickness ended his life April 5, 1847. As an author, Richter gave to the world a number of works; e.g. Erklarte Hausbibel, a commentary on the entire Bible (6 vols.), decidedly orthodox according to the Lutheran standard, and everywhere confidently accepting the literal meaning: Evangel. u. romische Kirchenlehre (1844), a polemical work: — a Life of Gutzlaf, the Chinese missionary, and others. In personal intercourse he was vivacious, stimulating, witty, and yet dignified. A man of scientific culture, he was an accomplished botanist, mineralogist, etc.; but his writings are characterized by freshness of statement rather than by depth of thought.

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