Colonising the USA
History records amazing things done by the people of God through the ages. Much of it is hidden, because secular historians do not recognise what is happening. But believers have changed the face of history.
Colonising the USA
America was discovered back in 1492 by Columbus. The Spaniards found Florida and built the first town there in 1565. But the first effective colonisation took place when a group of Separatist Puritans arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 as the Pilgrim Fathers. These were believers who fled England because of religious persecution, went to Europe which they found no better, and decided to make the journey to the New World. The courage of these believers who brought their families to such uncharted terrain is formidable to contemplate, even at this distance. Clearly their vision came from their faith. But the excitement for us comes from understanding that it was believers who opened up the new world, not businessmen, or unbelievers of some other kind. Thousands more followed, most of them men and women of strong, independent and freedom-seeking faith. So this is an inspiring chapter in Christian endeavour.
Moulding the USA
Later, the Christian faith in America slumped to a low ebb. People were so busy opening up the land that their faith was not guarded. By the late 1700's only about 1 in 2500 was a church-goer. In the UK, John Wesley was preaching, and he died in 1792. He sent missionaries to America and they became the Circuit Riders, meaning that they went from place to place on horseback, preaching wherever they found a home or town. They averaged more than 10 miles a day and typically preached over 400 sermons in a year. They died, worn-out, at an average age of 36-37. But these men changed the face of the USA. By about 1820 the church-attending population had grown to 1 in 40. These men preserved the USA as a Christian nation. Who knows what disasters would have followed if the USA had become a non-Christian nation?
Defeating Slavery in the USA
Later again, the USA was threatened by slavery. This abomination was defiling the nation as many realised, but few had the courage or imagination to challenge it. A preacher's daughter, who had married a preacher, decided to write a book. She was Harriet Beecher Stowe, and she wrote 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. The book sold in the hundreds of thousands and stirred the nation as nothing else had done. Shortly after the Civil War began and slavery was outlawed.
John Wesley: Back in the UK, John Wesley had changed the character of England. The Industrial Revolution began in the 1700's. As a result cities sprang up, but no one knew how to manage them. The peasant farmers moved into the cities looking for work. Drunkenness and prostitution were endemic as people struggled to survive. Factory owners were ruthless. The preaching of Wesley stirred the conscience of the nation. The wealthy began to look for ways to help the poor. The worst excesses were cleaned up. Had it not been for Wesley, Great Britain may very well have been drawn into the brutality of the French Revolution in 1793, when the French people rose against the arrogance and luxury of the aristocracy and the Roman Catholic Church.
Few nations have had such outstanding prophets to guide them into righteousness. These men did not do the work for political or financial reward, as so many "statesmen" have done. They were not admired in their time. They did it for the love of God and for the Lord Jesus Christ. They asked no reward, and generally received none. We will probably only know the depths of their achievements when we reach the Kingdom.
But this is our age. The role of the church is to be the prophet and conscience of the nation, not by preaching morality particularly, but by preaching Jesus Christ. Many churches are preaching social messages and achieving nothing. We are to live and breath freedom in Jesus Christ, to preach a gospel of power with God. We have a great calling.
by Pastor Fred Needham (New Zealand)
Taken from HQL-9518, p. 6-7