Some days ago, I had the opportunity to drive to Cape Henry in Virginia to visit a cross on a military base at Cape Henry, the First Landing site in Virginia, USA. My wife Sandy and I prayed that God would fulfill the covenant made by the first settlers that set up Jamestown nearby. Here’s the story:
On December 20, 1605, 105 settlers and 40 seamen set out from the River Thames estuary, near London, England. They embarked on a mission to the New World of America. They received a charter from King James, a monarch committed to the Christian faith. A significant aspect of the stated mission of the Virginia Company included concern for spiritual things. This priority was presented in a published tract titled, A True Declaration of the State of Virginia:
“First, to preach and baptize into Christian religion and by the propagation of the Gospel, to recover out of the arms of the devil a number of poor and miserable souls wrapped up into death in almost invincible ignorance; to endeavor the fulfilling and accomplishments of the number of the elect which shall be gathered from out of all corners of the earth; and to add to our myte the treasury of heaven.”
Though the ships they sailed upon were small, The Virginia Company leadership insisted that they carry one item with them from England for the purpose of giving glory to God in the endeavor – a rough-hewn wooden cross. An Anglican minister, Robert Hunt, was with them on the voyage. When they arrived, Hunt led the party to the wind-swept shore, where they erected the seven-foot oak cross in the sand. (It has since been replaced with a stone cross in memorial of what took place at Cape Henry, Virginia. If you also decide to visit, you will need the permission of the military base two days before).
The colonists and sailors gathered around the cross, holding the first formal prayer service in Virginia to give thanksgiving for God’s mercy and grace in bringing them safely to this new land. As they knelt in the sand, Hunt reminded them of the admonition of the British Royal Council, taken from the Holy Scripture: “Every plantation, which my Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Raising his hands to heaven, Rev. Robert Hunt claimed the land for country and king and consecrated the continent to the glory of God.
Rev. Robert Hunt stood as a representative of the King, the Church, and the people of England, in a sacred moment and dedicated the new continent to the purpose of God. This was the first official act by the English in the New World. In covenantal language, Hunt declared, "…from these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World but the entire world."
Jamestown became the first successful and permanent English colony. The first Protestant church services were held there by Robert Hunt under an old sail until the first church building was erected. In Jamestown, colonists came together for prayer three times a day, and the church was at the center of the town. It was also the site of the first representative government in North America, the Virginia General Assembly, which is now the third-oldest continuous legislature in the world.
As Rev. Robert Hunt prayed on that fateful day in April 1607, their “plantation” was not “rooted up.” From these humble beginnings, and later through other English colonies planted throughout North America, freedom flourished, allowing for unprecedented prosperity and peace. And by God’s providence, Rev. Hunt’s prayer continues to bear fruit. Here below is what he prayed/prophesied:
We do hereby dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelist to the World. May all who see this Cross, remember what we have done here, and may those who come here to inhabit join us in this Covenant and in this most noble work that the Holy Scriptures may be fulfilled.
After the prayer, they read the following Bible passage: "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's and he ruleth among the nations” (Psalm 22:27-28). Please pray for God’s will to be done in the United States of America. I believe the Lord will continue to send forth His Word from this country. Keith Thomas
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