We studied about the Pilgrims at the jail this week. It might sound weird or like something that wouldn’t apply but it really does.
First we talked about some of our favorite Bible stories. They remembered Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion’s Den and others. Just like when I teach my preschoolers at church about the Pilgrims, I was quick to say it’s not a story in the Bible. (That would be confusing.)
Each time we do Bible study at the jail, or anywhere else for that matter, we put ourselves in the story, finding what applies to us.
We started with the basics. In 1620, a group of courageous people decided they wanted to start a new life. They were being controlled by the king of England and they wanted to be free. They wanted to be free to worship God.
Sometimes in life, we know it’s time to make a new start. As I looked around the room, I knew several girls who were at that place. And like the Pilgrims, they had been controlled by someone or something-a relationship or addiction-for a long time.
The Pilgrims loaded everything they could on the Mayflower leaving many possessions and loved ones behind. The girls in our study had very few personal effects. Their stuff and families had also been left behind.
The Pilgrims knew starting a new life would be hard…they would have to be strong and brave. (That’s where our main Bible verse came in. Joshua 1:9: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.) The girls at the jail would have to be strong and brave, as well.
Then: some of the Pilgrims became very sick on the trip and that first winter; some even died. Now: when people detox from drugs, it can be tough. Lots of things happen to a body that is going through withdrawals. Some choose not to. They go home to the same thing, doing the same thing. It does not end well. (In the back of my Bible I have obituaries of girls I loved who overdosed.)
So…the Pilgrims knew it would be hard, they would have to be strong and brave, but they were going to trust in God. Sometimes life is hard. But God is still good. He can be trusted!
When the Pilgrims arrived in the new world (and to their new life), they had to make new friends. (When men and women who do drugs decide to stop, and make a new start, they have to make new friends, too.) The Indians taught them how to hunt, fish and to plant corn.
To celebrate their first harvest, the Pilgrims and Indians had a feast, rejoicing and thanking God for all He had done. They thanked God for all He had done. (I love that part.)
To finish the lesson, we played Bingo with the key words of the story…Pilgrims, Indians, new life, strong, brave, sick, etc. Winners got pretend $50 bills with smiley faces and Bible verses on them. Though the Bingo was a little bit of fun in a dark place, it reminded us again and again of what the Pilgrims had done and what they were made of.
I picture that first Thanksgiving meal in my head. Pilgrims on one side, Indians on the other. I wonder about the conversations at the table. Did they reminisce about the tough trip on the Mayflower? Did they laugh at silly things they had done? Did they have moments of mourning over loved ones they’d lost? Did they think it had all been worth it?
A lot can be learned by looking at the Pilgrims and not just in November. Has anything ever had control over you? Did you or do you feel like you need to make a new start? You might have to give up something or leave something behind. It might be hard and you might even get sick…but if you trust in God…truly believe and have faith in God…you can do it with His help! That’s what I told the girls in our Bible study and it’s what I’m telling you now…Be strong and courageous, for the Lord will be with you!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.