From the Presidential Prayer Team website, October 10, 2002
Portrait of Christopher Columbus courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
God's hand has been on the founding of our nation since its earliest days. Even before the arrival of settlers at Jamestown or Plymouth, a bold pioneer with a passion for new lands was used by God to open the New World in 1492.
Christopher Columbus was an explorer commissioned by his king and queen. What many don't know is that he was also known to be a devout believer and desired to tell others about God, wherever he found them. In fact, Columbus credited God with the inspiration to seek new lands. In one of his diaries he wrote, "It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me."
Because he firmly believed that he could reach the Far East by sailing west, Columbus was ridiculed by many and supported by few. Little did he know that a huge continent lay between Spain and the Pacific Ocean. After many days of sailing in open water with no land in sight, his crew began to doubt his plan, and after more than 10,000 miles, they heard the cry, "Tierra! Tierra!" (Land! Land!).
Columbus had not found the Orient as he had hoped, but he had found the Bahamas. He named the island San Salvador to honor God, but he called the people "Indians," believing he had reached India.
Replicas of Columbus' fleet, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Photo courtesy of NASA.
After he returned to Spain, many more came to the new world, and eventually, those seeking religious freedom found it in North America. Though Columbus was heralded as a hero, his life ended in relative obscurity. His faith remained strong, however, and of his adventures he wrote, "No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service."
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