As our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving this year, it is a perfect time to recapture the true spirit of America's Pilgrim ancestors. We are in a time of great trial, in many ways reminiscent of these faithful believers. It would be wonderful to share with our families and friends this Thanksgiving the following story of the amazing sacrifice of these brave forerunners of our freedom. As we shall see, it cost them everything to lay the foundation of the most prosperous and free nation in history. Will the strength of our character be tested like theirs was? The story begins in the small village of Scrooby as the Separatists (later called Pilgrims) began an underground church in the basement of a livery stable. These unlikely world changers desired to live a quiet life, raise their families and worship God according to the teachings of the Bible. But their biblical faith brought them face to face with the big government tyranny of their day.
King James I, the divine right tyrant of England, claimed absolute control over every person in his realm. He tortured, killed or exiled all who disagreed with him. He broke with the laws of England, to make all laws at his whim. (This is called “king’s law” and has been the tool of tyrants to keep almost all people in the world cowering in fear before them for 5,000 years.) The king was enraged that the Separatists dared to obey God rather than the king with regard to their worship and sacredly held beliefs. King James said “I will harry them out of the land - or else do worse.”
In 1607, the small Scrooby congregation sold all their possessions and tried to escape to Holland where there was a degree of religious freedom. They hired a Dutch sea captain. But once they were aboard his ship, he stole all that they had and turned them over to the king’s soldiers in the town of Boston, England. They were searched to their “innermost garments” and paraded through the streets. Then the men were dragged off to prison for nine months (which was often a death sentence). The women and children were left penniless and homeless on the streets.