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The English ship Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh, journeyed to the South Pacific in 1787 to collect plants of the breadfruit tree. Sailors signed on gladly, considering the voyage a trip to paradise. Having no second-in-command, Captain Bligh appointed his young friend Fletcher Christian to the post. The Bounty stayed in Tahiti for six months, and the sailors, led by happy-go-lucky Fletcher Christian, enjoyed paradise to the full. When the time came for departure, some of the men wanted to stay behind with their island girls. Three men, trying to desert, were flogged. The mood on the ship darkened, and on April 28, 1789, Fletcher Christian staged the most famous mutiny in history. Bligh and his supporters were set adrift in an overloaded lifeboat (which they miraculously navigated 3,700 miles to Timor).
The mutineers aboard the Bounty began quarreling about what to do next. Christian returned to Tahiti where he left some of the mutineers, kidnapped some women, took some slaves, and traveled 1,000 miles to uninhabited Pitcairn Island. There the little group quickly unraveled. They distilled whiskey from a native plant. Drunkenness and fighting marked their colony. Disease and murder eventually took the lives of all the men except for one, Alexander Smith, who found himself the only man on the island, surrounded by an assortment of women and children.
Then an amazing change occurred. Smith found the Bounty’s neglected Bible. As he read it, he took its message to heart, then began instructing the little community. He taught the colonists the Scriptures and helped them obey its instructions. The message of Christ so transformed their lives that 20 years later, in 1808, when the Topaz landed on the island, it found a happy society of Christians, living in prosperity and peace, free from crime, disease, murder—and mutiny. Later, the Bible fell into the hands of a visiting whaler who brought it to America. In 1950 it was returned to the island. It now resides on display in the church in Pitcairn as a monument to its transforming message.
People of Israel, what does the Lord your God want from you? The Lord wants you to respect and follow him, to love and serve him with all your heart and soul, and to obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. Do this, and all will go well for you. (Deuteronomy 10:12,13)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Apr. 28.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1570 – Pope Pius V issues a bull against Queen Elizabeth of England, excommunicating her as “a heretic and favorer of heretics,” depriving her of her title to the crown, and forbidding all her subjects to obey her on the threat of ex-communication themselves. Elizabeth, however, will retain her throne and triumph over an attempted invasion by Catholic Spain, going down in history as one of England’s greatest monarchs.
1650 – A committee from Devon, England, recommended John Flavel as an assistant to an infirm rector at Diptford. The young man applied himself with much determination, becoming a notable Presbyterian clergyman and Puritan author, often persecuted by the government because his religious views did not conform to those of the Church of England.
1946 – The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia unanimously elects Meliktu Welde Mariam to become a bishop. In 1971 he became the first patriarch (Patriarch Tewoflos) ordained in Ethiopia. Previously patriarchs were ordained in Egypt.
1960 – Police in Nowa Huta, Poland, try to remove a cross. Women protest and men join to protect the women from police brutality. Riots develop and the rioters burn the Communist headquarters. This is one of many religious protests that force the Communists to grant a measure of religious tolerance to Poland. Eventually, Polish faith will be a factor in bringing down the Communist regime.
Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org 27 April 2020.