How often do we stop to think about the sacrifice the pilgrims made in coming to America? Only a small part of the congregation was able to leave for the new land. The 102 people that sailed faced a “stinking inferno” below deck that brought much death and illness, as well as harassment from the sailors. In the new settlement of Plymouth weary bodies, weakened from sea travel, began to fail. Six died in December, eight in January, seventeen in February, and thirteen in March. Imagine that happening in your church! Nearly half of the original number died. The more adversity raged, however, the more they prayed and trusted God.
In response to their prayers, a most surprising thing happened. A Native American named Squanto happened by; one who knew English and was able to teach them where to fish, how to plant corn, the skill of stalking deer and how to refine maple syrup. The history of Squanto is as fascinating as Joseph’s. It included kidnapping to England, where he lived nine years and learned English, return to his native land (the area of Plymouth), only to be captured again and taken to Spain for slavery. He was purchased and freed by a local friar, introduced to the Christian faith, and then returned to North America to find all his tribe dead from a plague. Thus had God prepared this man as a scout and teacher for the Pilgrims.
The summer of 1621 was a time of rejoicing with weddings, births, and baptisms celebrated. A day of public Thanksgiving was declared in October. Massasoit, the nearby tribal chief, was invited, and arrived a day early with 90 braves! They fellowshipped in prayer and music, in foot races, wrestling, and shooting contests of gun and bow, and in the delightful feast.
But more hardships were ahead, especially the winter of starvation, 1621-22. Another ship had arrived, cutting their meager rations in half, and the harvest was poor. This left a daily ration of only five kernels of corn apiece. If that wasn’t bad enough, a drought of twelve weeks hit the settlement. Edward Winslow’s journal reads as follows (to see full article, which is excellent, click here):
These and the like considerations moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before Him, but also to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer. To that end, a day was appointed by public authority, and set apart from all other employments.
Fasting and prayer? When they were already starving? God moves in mysterious ways, and His power and love was shown the very same day, as a gentle rain began to cover the crops, which in time proved to be most abundant after all. A second day of Thanksgiving was celebrated. But there was something different about this Thanksgiving Day—something that perhaps we all should do yet. The first course upon every empty plate was a mere five kernels of corn—“lest anyone would forget.”
In these days of a very serious Global Food Crisis, how many families are sitting down to five kernels of corn or rice per day? How many have no food to give their children? How many parents have to try to decide which child to give a food ration to each day, or whether to eat any food for themselves?
The question has been asked, “Why are so many people starving? Isn’t there enough food in the world?”
According to The Skeptic’s Guide to Global Poverty, “there is plenty of food in the world to feed every person, yet more than 800 million people are chronically hungry…The problem is not food production, but food availability. In many parts of the world people do not have access to adequate quantities of food or food with sound nutritional value.”
Imagine if this was you and your family. Imagine if you, like parents in Haiti, had to feed mud cookies to your children. What if you had no choice but to feed them warm water, “because it feels like food going down,” as Wess Stafford quoted some mothers in Bukina Faso.
Friends, it’s time to wake up and come to the aid of those in need! How can we continue to ignore their cries for help? Do we emotionally disconnect with these situations in order to shield ourselves from the guilt of materialism, greed and apathy? Are we unwilling to bring down walls of poverty and see it for what it truly is?
If you had only five kernels of corn today, what would you do with it? Eat it? Give all to your children? Plant it? Thank God that you have something to eat? Give it away?
Today is Thanksgiving Day. Why not sponsor a needy child this very day?