Columbus Day teaches lessons
October 10, 2011
by Jenni Sebora

Although the study of Columbus Day has become somewhat controversial, Christopher Columbus, as well as the three famous ships he sailed, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, are well-known and studied by many students. We know, “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

Columbus was born in Italy. His father was a weaver of wool, and Columbus helped in this job, but he really wanted to sail. He learned Spanish and Latin to help him reach his goal of sailing to far away lands. As a Christian, his quest was really to tell the story of Christ to people in these faraway lands. He also wanted to be wealthy.

To do this, he wanted to find a short way to get to the Orient. Finally (after about eight years of requesting), Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain agreed to supply him with money and the ships.

He did “sail the ocean blue” on four voyages in search of the western route to the Orient and to discover new territories.

On a voyage, he did accidentally reach America, however, he was not the first European but the second. I believe, it was Leif Erickson and the Norse who were ahead of him.

Although Columbus did not become rich, and he was not the first to reach America, his voyages did provide valuable knowledge regarding the trade winds, and it is said his travels were the beginning of American colonization.

What can Columbus Day teach us and our children?

Goal setting – The first step in any successful venture is (or should be) setting a goal. Having an end to focus your energies on makes achieving that goal much more likely, because it gives purpose to your efforts, rather than aimlessly hoping good things might happen by chance. Columbus focused on finding (and profiting from) a new trade route to China, and this made the exploration – if not the discovery – of the New World possible.

Perseverance – Even though Columbus was Italian, there was no support for his voyage in the Italian city states. In order to get funding for his trips, he needed the support of somebody with money and authority in Europe. He approached the king of Portugal twice, and was rejected. He was turned down by the leaders of the city states of Genoa and Venice. He had contacted the king of England, who was thinking about Columbus’s proposal when, after seven years of trying, the rulers of Spain agreed to finance the voyage.

Faith – Part of the motivation for Columbus’ voyage was the desire to introduce Christianity to other parts of the world. His journals contained many references to God and he often quoted lines of Scripture in them. He considered himself an instrument of God’s purpose and he was responsible for the greatest introduction of Christianity in history. His safe return from his voyages, I am sure only reinforced his faith.

As a Christian, to me, this is the most important lesson of Columbus’ story – God loves us, is with us, and protects us.

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