Then Hess Quit Preaching
A very intriguing history was recounted for us of the first establishment of the care of the poor in Breslau.[i] Johann Hess, the first Lutheran preacher in Breslau (d. 1547) could no longer accept how beggars, crippled, and mentally ill people lay on the streets and in front of all the churches in Breslau. He began to publicly admonish the governing authorities from the pulpit. But from it came no establishment of means to care for the poor in the community. Then Hess quit preaching. This had a significant effect upon the magistrate and the congregation, because he very much enjoyed preaching and they knew it. Finally they resolved to ask him why he stopped preaching. The answer was this: “My Lord Jesus lay in His members at the doors of all the churches. I can not simply step over Him. If he is not cared for, neither will I preach.” These words had a very significant influence. Places to care for the poor were prepared. Illegitimate beggars were dismissed and in one day 500 persons were brought to newly established hospitals. Thus there arose gradually in all the cities and villages of Lutheran Germany a well-ordered and equipped way of caring for the poor and the sick, as we now see it everywhere. (p. 13)
From “Mercy and the Lutheran Congregation: A translation of the essay, ‘Intentional Care of the Poor and the Sick is Essential for the Well-Being of a Christian Congregation’ by Theodore Julius Brohm.” Translated by Matthew Harrison. LCMS World Relief and Human Care. 2006.
[i] Now Wroclaw, a town of around 630,000 people in Poland. (KH)