“… gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become an alien in a foreign land.” Exodus 2:22
Moses named his son, Gershom, meaning, ‘alien in a foreign land’. He was forced to leave his native land, Egypt and settle in a foreign land, Palestine. Giving birth to a son, Moses believed he would remain in Palestine, an alien transplanted to a foreign land.
The early Pilgrims in Plymouth took great solace in this Biblical story. They were forced to leave their native land of England for a wilderness in a foreign land. Upon arrival, they were to meet a native ‘alien’ who would change their lives.
The last surviving member of the Pawtuxet Tribe, Squanto (also known as Tisquantum), met them; the tribe had been wiped out by an unnamed ‘pestilence’. Squanto had escaped this fate because the notorious Capt. Thomas Hunt had kidnapped 20 Pawtuxet’s years earlier. Hunt sailed them to Spain where they were offered for sale in a slave market. Spanish monks, from a nearby monastery, took note of Squanto’s nobility, character, and intelligence. They purchased him, taught him Spanish, the Christian faith, and taught him about European cultures.
Squanto later earned passage to England and, learning English, hired himself out to take fishermen, part of the Plymouth Company, to the new fishing grounds in the New World. After completing his duties to the fishing company, Squanto worked his way back from Saco Maine to Plymouth.
When the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, the Nauset Tribe, (having lost 7 of their members to Capt. Thomas Hunt’s kidnapping), were “ill affected toward the English”. A grateful Pilgrim, Governor William Bradford, called Squanto “a special instrument of God”.
Squanto knew their Christian faith, spoke perfect English, taught the pilgrims to plant corn, to fish, to procure commodities from neighboring tribes, gave them his tribal lands, and remained with them until he died. Squanto was truly ‘a God-send’.
What was Squanto’s motivation for giving? Scripturally, it says to have empathy means to ‘groan with the pain of another’; today we say empathy means you understand or experience what another person feels from their perspective. Squanto understood the Pilgrim’s situation because he had lived it. Monks redeemed Squanto in a foreign land – – Squanto now redeemed the Pilgrims.
Thank God America has a history of former immigrants helping incoming immigrants. From our early beginning, we in America have had a special reverence at work in our hearts for Thanksgiving, a willingness to identify with those less fortunate and to give thankfully. Generosity has always been our gateway to faith in God.
In appreciation for all you do may you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving