September 10, 2015
Many regard the Pilgrims as the first missionaries of faith in the New World. They are also credited with bringing the concept of self-governance to the shores. The fact is the mission of the very first English settlers in the land was to spread the Gospel and do it freely from under the chains of England.
Over 100 years after the discovery of the Americas, King James I formed the Virginia Company on April 10, 1606, with the purpose of funding immigrants to the New World. The company was divided into two sections, the London Company and the Plymouth Company. A charter was drawn up stating the mission and goal of the company. As one section states: “We greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their desires for the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true knowledge and Worship of God...” In other words, part of their focus was to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the natives.
On April 26, 1607, one hundred and four men and boys, including the famous Captain John Smith, reached the New World on the ships Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. They landed on what is now Cape Henry and spent a month searching for the proper location for their colony. Their new settlement, called Jamestown, becoming the first permanent English colony in North America. Though Plymouth Company established the Popham Colony in Maine a few days later, it failed and disappeared just after a year. No other colonies were established in the New England area until the Pilgrims landed in 1620.
A CITY UPON A HILL
While the animated Disney movie Pocahontas depicts John Ratcliffe driving a British flag in the ground upon making landfall, the first colonists actually planted a wooden cross on Virginia Beach at Cape Henry. While kneeling on the cross, Pastor Robert Hunt offered the prayer: “We do hereby Dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelist to the World.”
Upon arrival, there were tensions between the Jamestown colonists and the 14,000 Algonquian Indians under the leadership of Chief Powhatan. Powhatan ruled over several tribes in the Chesapeake area and desired Jamestown to become part of his domain. The colonists built James Fort but struggled with disease, food and Indian attacks. The English’s resistance did not sit well with the Chief but did not make relations with the Indians impossible either. John Smith worked with the natives and secured food for the men, saving the colony from starvation.
In December of 1607, Smith and two companions were captured while exploring and mapping the Chickahominy River region. The Powhatan warriors delivered the prisoners to their Chief. After killing the other two colonists, Smith recounts in his book Generall Historie (1624) that "two great stones were brought before Powhatan: then as many as could layd hands on him [Smith], dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs, to beate out his braines, Pocahontas the Kings dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne upon his to save him from death: whereat the Emperour [Powhatan] was contented he should live... ." Pocahontas was not only successful in saving Smith’s life, she convinced her father to safely return him to Jamestown. She was just 13 years old at the time.
By January of 1608, less than half of the original settlers were still alive. That month, 70 more English settlers arrived but they failed to bring sufficient provisions. The colony continued to struggle over the next several months while more people arrived without supplies. Representing her father, Pocahontas often visited Jamestown and usually with gifts of food.
On September 10, 1608, things changed for the settlement. Already a strong leader in the community, John Smith was officially elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia. He believed greatly in the Biblical instruction that, "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Under his strong leadership, work ethic and self-governing standpoint, Jamestown began to produce, grow and become self-sufficient. Smith was not loved by everyone, though. After a mysterious gunpowder accident, Smith was forced to return to England in October of 1609, never to see Virginia again.
While Smith was around, relations between Powhatan and the settlers were somewhat stable but not perfect. Shortly before he left, conflicts arose that began the First Anglo-Powhatan War. Because of the hostilities, Pocahontas was told that Smith had died. She disappeared soon after, reportedly marrying Kocoum and moving to a secret village for safety reasons. Samuel Argall discovered her location, abducting her on April 13, 1613, and took her to Henricus. His purpose was to hold her for ransom. His demands included the release of English prisoners Powhatan held captive, along with returning stolen weapons and tools. The Chief released the Englishmen, but failed to return all the stolen items resulting in Pocahontas’ continued captivity.
As we say, though, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Rev. Alexander Whitaker traveled to Virginia in 1611 with the sole purpose of sharing the Gospel with the natives. (see ) He wrote, “One God created us: They have reasonable souls and intellectual faculties as well as we. We all have Adam for our common parent.” During her time in Henricus, Pocahontas was put in Whitaker’s care who ministered to her and taught her English through reading the Bible. She soon embraced Christianity and was baptized with the name “Rebecca”, thus becoming the first native convert in the Americas.
After her abduction, her marriage to Kocoum was terminated due to either his murder, or Powhatan tradition that ends a marriage after a kidnapping. Either way, Pocahontas was no longer a married woman. During her time in Henricus, she met and fell in love with John Rolfe, a widower who lost his wife and child several years earlier in Bermuda on his voyage to the New World. He reached America and became a tobacco farmer. He spent years developing new varieties of tobacco, which became the Colony’s first export cash crop. This resulted in Rolfe becoming a prominent and wealthy member of society.
In March 1614, Pocahontas was given an opportunity to speak to several of her senior Native American leaders not including the Chief. She criticized her father for putting tools and objects over her life and then revealed that she preferred to stay with the settlers. A month later she married John Rolfe at a Jamestown church. And thus, the American dream begins with the first native Christian convert and a self-made entrepreneur.
Though some use her kidnapping as a reason to denounce the founding of the country, her marriage to John allowed improved Native American and colonists’ relationships. It resulted in the six-year “Peace of Pocahontas” period where natives and English lived in peace.
Rolfe and Pocahontas took their young son, Thomas, to England in 1616 to promote and raise money for the Virginia Company. Her conversion to Christianity gave hope to those in England for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ across the globe. The first Native American to travel to England, Pocahontas was very well received and even met King James and Queen Ann. She became famous in her own right in the Old World with statues and paintings commemorating their respect for her.
Their union was also a testament to inter-racial marriage. John Rolfe quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 in his quest to marry Pocahontas, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” It was her faith in Christ Jesus that made them equal as partners, not their ethnic background.
After 7 months overseas, Rolfe was ready to get back to his tobacco farm. The family set sail but had to return to shore when Pocahontas became gravely ill. She died in March 1617, in her husband’s arms and was buried at Saint George’s Church in Gravesend, England.
Back in Jamestown, Smith’s model of self-governance was taking root and growing. Many believe the idea of breaking from the crown originated with the Patriots and our Founding Fathers in the mid-1700’s. The truth is the basis for self-governance was embedded in the Charter of 1606 by stating individuals in this colony: “shall HAVE and enjoy all Liberties, Franchises, and Immunities, within any of our other Dominions, to all Intents and Purposes, as if they had been abiding and born, (that’s God-given, inalienable rights) within this our Realm of England, or any other of our said Dominions.” It is this language, along with the Mayflower Compact of the Pilgrim’s in 1620, that inspired and supported the Founder’s purpose for the Declaration of Independence. From the beginning, the desire for freedom and liberty was written in the hearts and minds of the American settlers. The harder kings put their foot on America’s neck, the more determined she became to have her freedom.
On July 30, 1619, the first representative legislative assembly convened in Jamestown. So from the start, America was based on a “government of law and not of men.” By March 1622, after an Algonquian attack that killed 300 settlers, and severe debt of the Virginia Company, King James rescinded the Virginia Company Charter and consequently any God-given rights that went with it. He made Virginia a Crown Colony, appointing his own governor in 1624. King James may have taken liberty and freedom away in Jamestown, but it was alive and well in Massachusetts with the Pilgrims and there was no way to prevent its spread.
Historians generally agree the Geneva Bible came to the New World in 1607 with Captain John Smith, as evident with his push for self-reliance and self-governance. Rev. Whitaker’s surviving sermons show he referenced the Geneva Bible in his preparations. Away from the prying eye of the crown, people were free to study the notes of the Reformers included in the best selling Bible. The result was an increased skepticism to the crown and monarchy’s role in governing the people. Despite King James attempt to hide God’s warnings against monarchs with his Kings James Version, Americans embraced the true words of individualism in the Bible with all reliance on God.
The language of the Charter of 1606 gave the New World freedom as an independent, Christian county and nothing was going to stop it. Christian common law and spiritual liberty are woven into its DNA. It is only in the past 100 years that Progressives have erased these important and freedom-giving facts from our schoolbooks in attempts to write the history they want. They have lied, denying the influence of God and the Bible in our formation. They know that as with the rejection of the crown, the truth shall set us free.
Liberty, if you don’t know the truth it’s easy to believe anything. Evil is eager to put the shackles of social and economic slavery around your ankles and control your every move, including who you worship. America was blessed once because the people landing on its shores understood the importance of putting God first. Satan has been fighting from that time to take that blessing from us. We, as with the Jamestown settlers and the Pilgrims, have a country before us again that is ignorant and unaware of the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We don’t need to travel to a far away nation to be missionaries anymore. There our millions of Pocahontas’ in our own country right now.
Let’s get to work.
That’s my 2 cents.