This Week's Story

Will poor and rich Puritans keep their promise to work together in the New World?

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

The Promise, part three

“Mom, do you think the gentlemen will work?”

“Phoebe, as you said, they are gentlemen. They have never had to work with their hands.”

“But Mom, they’re Puritans like we are. We all left our homes and country and came to America so we could live the way God wanted us to live, not with stupid pride and prejudice. We wanted reform in England, but it wasn’t happening. The state church and king despise us.

“We promised to work together. How can those men think they have a right to be above physical work when the rest of us are expecting to work?”

“They’re used to receiving special treatment, Phoebe. They brought men with them to do their work. I suspect they don’t know what Christian love means. We say that we have a relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ. He has changed our lives, but some of us haven’t thought, Are there more ways I should change.”

“Mom, I wonder how our governor, Mr. Winthrop, will get the

gentlemen to work. I think they are going to get a shock. Even though Mr. Winthrop was born a gentleman, he wants us to have the courage to build a colony based on what God would call right living. He said that we could be like a city on a hill. We could be an example.”

“Phoebe, all the men and boys, who are not sick, have been asked to meet with Mr. Winthrop in the center of town. The women are to come, unless they are caring for the sick. The gentlemen have been told to come and wear old clothes.”

Soon the people gathered. Mr. Winthrop began, “This is a historic beginning for us. We gather today in 1630 in the town of Salem. Conditions are not what we expected. In the last two years two hundred and sixty-five men have come here. Only eighty-five are left. Many died from sickness; some left. We see no sturdy buildings, only shacks and canvas shelters. There’s much work to be done. We’ve come to build the Massachusetts Bay Colony. By God’s grace, we are going to do it. I want to talk to you about work we will do.

“Who’s had experience fishing? O.K., Packham and Kenworthy, each of you take three men. You’ll take turns on alternate days using a rowboat for fishing.

“You women, those of you who are able, will do field work in the morning. The rest will be on nursing details.

“Mr. Higginson, since you are sick, help us on Sunday with prayer and a message on what it means to serve God and one another.

“Mr. Skelton, I want you to be in charge of taking an inventory of how much food we have. Then we can decide how much we can eat each day.

“The rest of you form two work parties. One group will be with me and the other with Mr. Endecott.”

One gentleman objected. “Surely you do not expect us to join you.”

“Yes, I do. We signed an agreement last year that we would commit ourselves as Christians to this work. We will not succeed unless we are all willing to give ourselves to it.

“Beginning tomorrow we will meet two hours past sunrise for our work assignments. Bring your lunch and we will work until four hours past noon. The rest of the day is yours.”

People laughed.

Three months later Mr. Winthrop wrote his wife, “I never fared better in my life, never slept better, never had more content of mind.”

Then there were those who returned to England and those who died the first winter.

This is Barbara Steiner with a story of challenge. Please visit

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