Eskimos, Moravians and Forgiveness

Photo of Northern Canada  along with the Moravian Church Logo in right corner

Eskimos: we know who they are.

Who were the Moravians? And why did they have a problem with forgiveness?

Moravia was once a region in Eastern Europe. Slovakia would be the nearest modern equivalent. The “Moravians” were a group of Moravian Christians forced out of their homeland by persecution. In the 18th century, they settled in Saxony, Germany; and from there, Moravian missionaries went out across the globe, spreading the Gospel.

But they had a problem when they arrived among the Eskimos of northern Canada. The problem was forgiveness. There was no word in the Eskimo (or “Inuit”) language for forgiveness. So how could the Moravians tell Eskimos about the forgiveness of sins? Christ died to bring forgiveness of sins – but there seemed to be no way to tell that to Eskimos.

There was nothing for it; the Moravian missionaries just had to invent a new word for forgiveness. The new word they invented was ISSU-MAGIJOU-JUNG-NAINER-MIK.

In the Eskimo language, the strange new word meant: “not being able to think about it any more.”

Someone does something bad to you. You forgive them. If the forgiveness is real, it means you have put the bad thing out of your mind. You are unable to think about it any more. It is gone for ever. ISSU-MAGIJOU-JUNG-NAINER-MIK…

Now the Moravians could tell Eskimos what Christ had done for them. By dying for our sins, Christ has brought complete forgiveness for everyone who accepts Him. Their sins are put out of God's mind - gone for ever. It is just as if God cannot think about them any more. Our sins have been erased from His sight. In the words of the Bible:

“Thou hast, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption: for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back” (Isaiah 38:17).

“I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

This means there is no longer any barrier separating us from God. By washing our sins away, putting them out of God's mind, the sacrifice of Christ has made peace between God and every sinner who believes.

Could there be any greater blessing in the world?


“He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).