God sent him to save the pilgrims
As we prepare for our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we all think we know the story. But do we? And who is Squanto? Hold on – you may be hearing this story for the first time.
His name was Squanto. He was an Indian. A member of the Pawtuxet tribe. In 1605, when Squanto was just a young boy, he and four other boys were captured from their village by an English ship’s captain, George Weymouth, and these young Indian boys were taken back to England.
Captain Weymouth’s plan was to capture some Indian natives in America and teach them how to speak English so that they could act as scouts for the English colonists as they set to establish their new colonies in America. It was a cruel but cunning plan and Squanto spent the next nine years of his life in England at the house of Sir Ferdinand Gorges. During his time there, he was taught perfect English.
But Squanto wanted to go back home, so in 1614, Captain John Smith set sail on a voyage to America and he agreed to take Squanto back to his home and his people. But when Squanto returned, his homecoming didn’t last long. Sailing on another ship with Smith’s expedition was a Captain Thomas Hunt, and he had only one thing in mind – money.
As soon as Smith had left the area, Captain Hunt made his way back down the coast and lured Squanto and twenty other Pawtuxet braves on board his ship, and once there he put them in chains. From there he made his way to Malaga, a port on the coast of Spain which was well known for its brutal slave trade. There, these strong Indian braves could be sold for as much as $1,400 each. Squanto and the others were sold as slaves.
But something quite miraculous happened. A local monastery had actually gathered together enough money to buy a few of the soon-to-be slaves. They bought Squanto, and, unbelievably, they set him free – he literally owed his life to them. How could any of them know then what an important part Squanto would play in our nation’s history. For a short time, Squanto lived at the monastery and learned about the Christian faith.
Finally, in 1619, Squanto was once again given the opportunity to go home. He couldn’t wait to see his family. But, when he stepped off the ship and made his way back to his village, what he saw there was the most devastating blow of his life. There was not one member of his tribe alive. Nothing but skulls, and bones, and ruin. While Squanto had been gone, a terrible sickness had come to his village and had killed literally every man, woman, and child.
For the next six months, Squanto wandered aimlessly, just what could he do, what would he do? His mother, his father, his brothers and sisters, his entire tribe – they were all dead. He finally made his way into chief Massasoit’s camp nearby. He had nowhere else to go. He told the chief his story and the chief took him in. But Squanto merely existed. He believed he had nothing left to live for.
Then one day, Squanto was told that a small group of peaceful English families was building a colony, believe it or not, where his own village had once been. This small band of people we know as pilgrims had just endured that first terrible winter and almost half had died. They were sick and weak and had little food. It seemed clear they would not survive unless someone helped them. Squanto made his way to their camp.
At first the pilgrims were scared. Was he part of a war party? Would they all be killed? But amazingly, this Indian could speak perfect English, and as they talked, something very miraculous happened – Squanto felt in his heart the need to take these people into his care. He saw these pilgrims as little babes, so ignorant to the ways and wilds of the new world. He determined in his heart that would commit himself to teaching them, and saving their lives. He taught them how to fish, stalk deer, refine maple syrup, find herbs good to eat and for medicine. But the most important thing he taught was the planting of corn – the Indian way. And with Squanto’s help – they survived.
So, in October of 1621, when the pilgrims decided to have a three-day feast giving thanks to Almighty God for their deliverance, they invited Squanto as their special guest. And he brought with him 120 braves. It was truly a wonderful and thankful celebration.
But just what happed to Squanto? He became a very valuable scout to other explorers who came to America. Amazingly, after enduring all the hardships in his life and overcoming every obstacle, only two years after that first Thanksgiving was celebrated, Squanto was struck with a terrible fever and he died.
And what did the pilgrims think of this man, Squanto? William Brewster, one of the first group of pilgrims, in his diary wrote these words, “Squanto was a special instrument of God for our good, beyond any possible expectations.” They knew that Squanto had been sent to them by God. What an amazing story.
As we set out this week to be thankful for our homes, our families, our health, our safety, let us, first, be thankful to our true Deliverer – Almighty God.
Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you!