Stepping Stones Then, Stepping Stones Now

by | Nov 5, 2019 | Articles, History

Say the word “Pilgrims,” and my mind immediately goes to tall hats, big buckles, and Stove Top Stuffing.  Our modern history books have so diminished our conception of the Pilgrims that we often tend to think of them mainly in terms of the “first Thanksgiving.”  But in all the 350 pages of William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, he devotes less than one paragraph to a “small harvest” in the fall of 1621, noting that they would be “plentifully provisioned for the winter.”  He makes no mention at all of a celebratory dinner. 

Bradford’s book, though, does give an incredible insight into the passion that this group of people had for Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  What would motivate a group of hard-working, intelligent, middle-class, family-oriented Christians to sell essentially everything they had in order to charter a ship to a wilderness where they had no claim to land, no housing, no doctors, no one to go ahead and make it safe or comfortable for them?  What were they thinking?  Bradford gives a notable answer to that question as he described the motivation of his fellow ‘pilgrims’:

They cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in performance of so great a work.

This group of Christians had a grand vision.  They saw themselves as part of God’s unfolding narrative of history.  They were not the beginning, nor would they be the end.  The Pilgrims understood that their life was not all about them.  They were Kingdom-minded and their actions prove it.  They were willing to be stepping stones.  And we must recognize that we stand on their shoulders today when we gather to worship freely, without government control.  The Pilgrims didn’t come to a wilderness just so they could worship freely.  They came so we could worship freely, too.  They came so we could go… and take the Gospel to others.

Some 360 years later, another group of Christians with a grand vision gathered to advance God’s Kingdom on a new frontier – that being home education. 

Members of this group eventually founded the Christian Home Educators of West Virginia.  What had motivated these hard-working, intelligent, middle-class families to risk legal harassment, jail, or even loss of the custody of their children – when they had no clear legal claim to homeschool, no professional advisors, no online curriculum for higher math, no one to go ahead and make it safe or comfortable for them?  These “homeschooling pilgrims,” too, cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations:

We seek to promote homeschooling as a valuable means to strengthen families, as well as an environment that facilitates discipleship of children in the Christian faith.  We strive to impart a vision of family life which inspires Christian families to disciple their children, and to assist those families in accomplishing their vision with excellence. 

Like the Pilgrims in Plymouth, these “homeschooling pilgrims” truly understood that their life was not all about them.  They were Kingdom-minded and their actions prove it.  They were willing to be stepping stones.  And we must recognize that we stand on their shoulders today when we gather to teach our children at home – freely, without government control.  They gained our legal freedom so that we would be free not just to teach our children, but to train them up in the Christian faith.

So, how about you – are you willing to be a stepping stone for others to find their way to Jesus Christ?  Do you want to leave a legacy that benefits both the present and future generations?  Here are four ideas:

  • Add an age-appropriate Bible study to your home education curriculum.
  • Take a younger homeschool family under your wing to share the vision of family discipleship.
  • Teach the true story of the Plymouth Pilgrims to your children before the inevitable history revisionist movie comes out from Hollywood next year.

Donate to CHEWV to help us continue to serving homeschool families across West Virginia.

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