Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In their day, the Pilgrims were called Separatists because they separated themselves from the Church of England. They met in their homes in secret to read the Bible and worship freely. This was in contrast to the Puritans who remained in the church of England with the hope of purifying it. For the Separatists, this meant that the king and his officials became their enemy; Separatists were the “trouble makers” and were officially persecuted. The government broke up the secret meetings; they took their positions, their properties, and arrested them. This is how the Separatists became wanderers for their faith, pilgrims; they left England and fled to Holland in 1608.
Settling in Leyden, Holland, they were able to worship freely. The Dutch had been persecuted by the Spanish years earlier and were much more tolerant of different ways to worship Jesus Christ. In Leyden for twelve years, the Pilgrims worked hard and sought to make it a home, but it was not to be.
Language was a barrier. Making a living was difficult. The culture was foreign to them. Over the twelve years there, they realized that their children were growing up speaking a different language, learning a strange culture, unaware of their own heritage, and straying from their faith. Their ability to shape the hearts and minds of their own children was dangerously hampered. Something had to be done.
This was a key factor in motivating them to take the risk to go to the New World. God had given them the insight to see past their own generation into the next. Why did these men and women risk everything to come to America? Why leave civilization to go to the wild regions of an unknown place? They were looking to the future, toward their children and grandchildren and beyond.
That’s why they secretly returned to England to board ships bound for America. They risked their lives in order to gain a future for their children. They sacrificed, but they did not call it that. They called it opportunity; they called it God’s will.
They were like the children of Israel that Moses delivered from Egypt. They were like Abraham who heard God’s call and followed. They were also mothers and fathers who were moved to action so that they could offer their children the opportunity to know Jesus Christ who was the reason behind it all.
I have a friend who runs an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico. He established their own school in order to sow faith in the children there. That was not an easy task.
As the principal of a Christian school, I see parents each year sacrifice in order to sow a future of faith in their children.
Some homeschool, some teach Sunday school, some get involved in youth groups, some move to different cities, some turn down promotions, some curb their travel and consequently their income.
Like the Pilgrims, parents today all around us are driven by their faith to sow eternal truth in the hearts and minds of their children. Often, it is sacrificial.
May we be among them! Hear their stories. Discover our own. We are pilgrims, too.