Saturday, November 24, 2007

Alrighty then…so my Thanksgiving got busier a lot faster than I thought it would and I was not able to put up part tatu of our little series. For all the hearts this broke and all the holiday’s my mishandling of this mini-series has ruined, I apologize.

We’ve unveiled the relationship between these Reformed Pilgrims and the trajectory they set for our nation. It was their Reformed view of the Church that ultimately led to the installation of the massive pillars which under gird what became the United States. Pillars such as the freedom of speech, the separation of Church and State and religious toleration in general. The far reach and true vastness of these freedoms where unknown in either the “Christian” west or east prior to The Mayflower voyage.

One of thing that stunned these Pilgrims during their very first weeks in Plymouth was meeting a couple Indians who spoke English! Remember…these were days before blogs, Foxnews or Myspace. Not only did news travel slowly but compared with today’s standards “news” was often mingled with wild tales, myths and speculation. For example, most Europeans including these Pilgrims thought the Indians were all savage and were all very big and tall…possibly giants. There were no pics being text’d back and forth of course and the tales from those adventures and traders who had been to The New World had obviously quickly gained legendary proportions among every day Europeans. These English speaking Indians must have truly stunned the Pilgrims. What they must not have appreciated was that Europeans had been initiating trade contacts with the Indians for decades at this point…maybe these savages weren’t so beastly after all.

The first Indian to make cordial contact with the Pilgrims was Samoset. His English was broken but manageable. Samoset served as the first real representative of the Native Indians. He then introduced the Pilgrims to one of the most fascinating men in world history…Squanto. Where it not for meeting this man it is nearly certain that these Reformed and Puritan Pilgrims would not have survived a year or two. That would have been sad enough...but keep in was the philosophy of these Pilgrims that blossomed into what is now The United States. It's not like all the Europeans coming to The New World thought and believed as the Puritan Pilgrims did. Not at all. No, the Pilgrims were very unique and because their settlement flourished The United States as we now know it was able to take root. Squanto was the tool in God's hands to make sure those settlers became stable, strong, healthy and organized. The plain facts in the life of Squanto are bizarre in and of themselves. But when you set the mans life up against the backdrop of the role he played in the lives of the European settlers during the most critical years of their quest, well, you’d have to be a fool to deny the Providential, active and miracle working hand of God in all of this. The life of Squanto and his unique role in world history is so far fetched that it is nearly impossible to even believe…yet it is all true.

Squanto (or Tisquantum) was part of the Patuxet tribe, which lived at present-day Plymouth, and which belonged to the Wampanoag confederation of tribes. In 1605 Captain George Weymouth led an expedition sailing and trading up and down what is now the New England costs. He sailed down the cost of Maine to Massachusetts…and then he stopped. Interesting…this wicked Captain…just…stopped. Hmm…well anyway. He did and he knew that it was getting about that time to turn back towards England. The idea struck him that his English investors would certainly be thrilled to see some real live Indians for themselves. So the Captain lured several on board his ship…and jumped them. Squanto was taken. These young Indian’s certainly put up a fight and Weymouth wrote that the only way the could hold onto them was by pulling them down and holding them by the hair. They were, uh, kidnapping these savages by pulling and holding them down by the hair…does anyone see the irony in that?

So off goes Squanto…can you imagine? Here is this young Indian being ambushed and then kidnapped by the white “Christian” men and sailing for weeks across the Atlantic Ocean for “who knows” what reason. As far as we know, Squanto had no real knowledge of English…maybe some…but certainly not much. He could not have known what they were going to actually be doing with him. And besides, even if he could have know their words how could he trust them?

Once in England Squanto ended up living with Sir Ferdinando Gorges who taught him some English and ended up hiring Squanto to be a guide and interpreter for Gorges captains who would be sailing up and down the costs of The New World. I bet Squanto was a trustworthy guy…maybe a bit like Joseph of the Old Testament. It appears later in life Squanto went through a power hungry spell and that he became a bit of a manipulator…but I think in his youth he must have displayed tremendous integrity and wisdom. He was no wild Injun.

So in 1614 off Squanto went…back to America! Again, he was hired…hired…to be the guide and interpreter for the expedition. So this Indian…now English speaking Indian…is sailing for the second time in his young life back across the Atlantic Ocean. How many times have you sailed across the Atlantic? Before it was all said and done this Indian would sail across the Atlantic four times.

Once across “the pond” Captain John Smith had the cost of Cape Cod mapped and then left the boat to a Captain Thomas Hunt with the instructions that Hunt was to continue to trade a bit more with the Indians and then go home. Well…once the ship carrying Captain Smith was out of sight Hunt quickly tricked twenty Nausets and seven Patuxets into coming on board his ship to trade--and then kidnapped them. Squanto, on board to act as an interpreter for the trades, was one of those captured. They were all bound, and sailed to Malaga, Spain.

Are you following this? The poor Indian was kidnapped and taken to England. He then gains the trust and respect of the man he ended up with and then travels back to America…thinking he was almost ready to get back home. And at the last minute all of those dreams, unrealistic as they were, after all, how could a kidnapped Indian living in England get back to his home? And despite those crazy odds he was there and then suddenly he’s getting jumped again and bound…and sailed back to EUROPE!

Hunt tried to sell the Indians as slaves at 20 apiece. Some local Friars, however, discovered what was happening and took the remaining Indians from Hunt in order to instruct them in the Christian faith, thus "disappointing this unworthy fellow of the hopes of gain he conceived to make by this new & devilish project".

It is during these four year’s many believe this Indian came to faith in Jesus Christ. Of course his theology might not have been pristine…but just before Squanto died it is reported that he asked the Governor to pray for him that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in Heaven. A twice kidnapped and beat up Indian wants to go to be with the God spoken of by his traitors and captors. Hmm. Yeah, Calvinism is hard to swallow at times…but the synergistic view of justification is for me a harder pill to swallow.

In 1618 Squanto boarded a ship and headed to Newfoundland. There Captain Dermer recognized this Indian as having been with Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Not knowing what to do he wrote Gorges in England. He was brought back to England. This Indian really got around Europe! He lived in England and Spain, spent time in Newfoundland and then went back again to England! I wonder how many years went by before another Native American traveled more miles than Squanto? I'd be willing to bet the man was the most traveled Indian in world history until sometime in the 20th century...I'm serious. Only God knows that record. Anyway, Gorges worked out the details and sent both Dermer and Squanto back to The New World to do more mapping and for Squanto to help re-initiate contact and trade with the now ticked off Indians. Once those things were done Gorges ordered Squanto to be free to simply…go home.

This was now 1619…and when Squanto with Dermer returned to his people…he learned they were all wiped out by a plague two years earlier. They were all wiped out…Squanto was the last of his tribe. All of his family and all of his friends…people his heart surly longed for and people who he must have been so overjoyed to see as he and Dermer approached. He must have played the reunion over in his head millions of times. And to get there to find them all dead. Squanto moved in with a neighboring tribe. His now friend Dermer continued on. Not that long after Squanto learned that Dermer had been taken hostage by Nausets at Cape Cod. Showing almost ironic honor, this twice kidnapped Indian who never enjoyed the work of an advocate himself when he was taken hostage not once but twice, came to the Nausets at Cape Cod and worked to free his friend Dermer...which he accomplished.

This is the Indian who just so happened to be hanging out around Plymouth in 1620 when the Reformed Puritan Pilgrims were in dire need of guidance and advocacy. The one man equiped to help them was the one man there...Squanto. Do not tell me that was by chance. It is nearly certain they would have all died had God not arranged this Squanto character to pop up. They would have either starved to death…because Squanto set them straight on some very basic farming and living issues. Or they would have all ended up scalped or something by the Indians who were already ticked at these Pilgrims for acting like they were going to be moving in and these where the same Pilgrims who got into a fight with Indians down in Cape Cod. Not to mention their anger with the Europeans for the kidnappings and for bringing their plagues with them...plagues which where wipping whole tribes out. Squanto served as an advocate and interpreter for both the Indians and the Pilgrims. His knowledge of both cultures and both languages was certainly nothing short of a miracle. Who could have ever imagined such a valuable man just hanging around at Plymouth? Come on now...that's crazy! It is beyond amazing how God clearly set all of this up.

Had Squanto not been kidnapped…both times…he would have certainly died with the rest of his tribe three years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth and would never had learned of the gospel. What men intend for evil God intends for good. God took these horrible events and used them to shape Squanto into an incredible tool for good and for history. The man learned English very well and learned European customs and history. God kept his heart from becoming hard…as we said…as he was dying Squanto expressed his desire to go to the Englishmen’s God in Heaven when he died. He even left various things to his English friends after his death.
Despite vast mismanagement and foolishness on the part of the Pilgrims God was leading their quest. God was part of the founding of our nation…there can be no denying it. God instilled the basic values into these Reformers and took care of them despite their weakness and allowed to them to overcome it all by His grace. He had real plans for this country and He insured it all because He called a young man named Squanto to be molded into an invaluable vessel in His hands…and Squanto never signed up for the job. He just lived it.

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