The storm started to die down as suddenly as it had come. The rain lessened, the lightning strikes ceased. The waves calmed.
Nearly a week after the monster storm had begun, it was finally over. Nobody quite understood why. All, the vows and calling on God hadn’t seemed to help at all. Several of the men, including the admiral, would be going on pilgrimages, for the lots had fallen to them. When they found the first land that had a shrine to God Almighty, they would proceed barefooted to worship God. Yet with all these promises, the storm had not stopped.
It was only Sandy, the priest, who quietly remembered that he and his three friends had prayed in great humility not that long before the storm started to quiet down. Could it be, as Laurence suggested, that God desired humble hearts rather than great, showy promises?
It was something to think about it.
“Land, ho!” shouted someone.
And sure enough, an island came into view. The sailors weren’t sure where they were at first. Then the navigator realized that this was the Azores—the islands near Portugal.
The admiral quickly gathered his crew to fulfill one of the vows he had made—there would surely be a shrine here. They would walk barefoot and attend Mass.
“Wait!” he suddenly held out a hand.
Captain Pinzon stared at him in confusion.
“Wait….” said the admiral again, this time quietly. “Perhaps…it would be better if we didn’t all go at once….”
It wasn’t long before one group headed out in the boat.
“Something amiss, do you think?” asked Peter, curiously. He was staring out toward the island with Charles, who was on duty with the navigator.
“Don’t know,” said the man, as he looked up from his charts. “Perhaps. It’s always good to be careful. And the admiral seems to have a sixth sense about these things.”
Sure enough, long after they expected the men back, they sighted the boat. One lone man struggled to row back to the ship.
“Go out and help him,” They lowered the other dinghy, the one from the grounded Santa Maria, and headed out to find out what had happened.
“I barely escaped! The others have been taken prisoner.”
“On what charge!”
The man shook his head. “A plot, sir! King John sent out orders. If we landed on any Portuguese holdings, we’re not to get back to Spain to report anything we’ve found.”
Captain Pinzon frowned. “They don’t want us getting the credit—or control of the passages to the Indies.”
The admiral stared about furiously. “You and you and you—come with me. Fully armed. Captain, stay here. We may need your help. Come after us if we’re not back by sunset. But Portugal will not get control! How dare they! They wouldn’t finance my voyage, but now they want to keep the glory from the ones who did!”
Nobody knew quite how Columbus managed it but some hours later, he brought his men back—all of them. He was very good at negotiating, but he now had to be very careful. King John would apparently do anything to keep them from claiming the sea passage they had found—to what they all thought was the Indies.
It was a hard voyage back, with another major storm and a great deal of danger. Columbus finally did meet with King John, for an invitation was sent to him for an audience before the king.
Rather wary, everyone wondered if it was a good idea, but the admiral came back, radiant with pride, and cocky at how disgusted the king was with the news of Columbus’s victory. The admiral had taken care beforehand to send messages to his own king and queen, just for protection. King John of Portugal had been very friendly at first, as if he had not schemed to keep Columbus from heading home.
“But it’s like adding fuel to a fire,” said Sandy, sadly. “I’ve seen the admiral so concerned about the lost souls of this world, and passionate to serve God. And I’ve often seen him like this—just as prideful, and full of passion for fame and glory.”
Laurence put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “We’ll continue to pray God’s mercy over him. He’s given in to sin and the Enemy, just as we all can do.”
Becky threw her arms around him, and he twirled her around! They danced for joy but nobody noticed. The rest of the townspeople were celebrating with their loved ones, as well.
What a homecoming!
“But where’s the others?” demanded Charles. “I have gold! Enough for a while! Uncle Samuel isn’t here, but look!” He pulled a paper out of his pouch. “He gave this to me. The document for his house. He’s stayed with the Indians, so we may have it! And here’s Blackie, He stowed away!”
The dog leaped at the girl, and licked her happily.
She laughed and hugged Blackie. Then she turned back to her brother. “It’s good that you have money. The creditors are throwing us out—we were going to leave before they could. We thought we’d go to Uncle Samuel’s for a while. We knew he wouldn’t mind until we found another place.”
Charles grinned, excitedly. “They can have the hovel! And I’ll pay them everything we owe.”
“Mother’s at home. She’s making a wonderful meal. We have very little money, but the neighbors gave some pork and potatoes, and she’s making pie!”
“We have a guest for a few nights if it’s all right. Then he’ll be moving on. This is my friend Peter.”
Peter smiled, shifting is sack of belongings.
Charles waved at Laurence. They’d all already said their goodbyes on board. Laurence was heading for the stables, wanting to make his way home as soon as possible. He cared about nothing more than getting to Switzerland to his family.
Sandy was already on his way to the monastery. He turned back and waved, too.
They were parting for now, but Charles had a feeling they might all be together again someday.
He’d met new friends, had adventures, and brought back the gold his family needed. Perhaps not as much as he’d hoped. But he’d gained far more. A true relationship with the Almighty God.
Becky ran on ahead to let the family know he’d arrived.
Charles walked with Peter more slowly, enjoying the sights and sounds of home, but already thinking about the future, and what God had for him next.
By Carol Bennett
This story is fictional, though based on the travels of Christopher Columbus.
Christopher Columbus continued his voyages, but often things seemed to go downhill. He seemed to forget about God’s plans and longed for fame. On his second voyage, he returned to the settlement, but found that most of his men had been killed. They had done wicked things, turning upon their new friends, and making them do the hard work of finding the gold. Then other natives came, much less friendly ones, who attacked the white men.
Many of the natives showed the sin and darkness of their own pasts, by killing each other and committing many evil acts. They did not know the true God, and Satan was controlling their lives.
Throughout the decades to come, ships filled with sailors and soldiers who had no thought of doing things God’s way, traveled to the new lands. They enslaved the Indians, all for greed and fame,, often pretending that their actions were to spread religion.
The Crusades were also during this time, when men thought that forcing Christianity on people and nations was pleasing to God. But taking over people’s lands was far from God’s plans.
God’s ways are not our ways–and He did have a wonderful plan.Spreading the gospel through love.
Hundreds of Catholic monks, as well as Protestant missionaries, quietly did their part for God. They sacrificed their health, and spent their lives traveling through wilderness to reach hidden tribes. They lived with the natives in love, but were often martyred as they tried to share the gospel of Jesus.
In many places, these brave followers of God earned the native’s love and respect. In other areas, there was still fear and hatred of the whites. But through these men and women, the light of the gospel shown brightly, and over the years, love prevailed, rather than violence.
Little by little, in spite of wickedness and slavery, and wars,, God showed himself to the natives, and many came to salvation.