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THE BIBLE AND THE BOUNTY


The English ship Bounty, commanded by Lt. William Bligh, journeyed to the South Pacific in 1787. Many signed on considering the voyage a trip to paradise. Bligh appointed a young friend, Fletcher Christian, to the post of second in command. The Bounty stayed in Tahiti for 6 months and led by the happy go lucky Fletcher Christian enjoyed paradise to the fullest. On April 28, 1789, Fletcher Christian staged the most famous mutiny in history. He and his mutineers set Bligh and his supporters adrift in an overloaded lifeboat.


The mutineers aboard the Bounty immediately 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 with the remaining crew a thousand miles to uninhabited Pitcairn Island. There the little group unraveled. They distilled whiskey from a native plant. Drunkenness, disease, and murder took the lives of all men except for one. John Adams, a.k.a. Alexander Smith, found himself as 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 twenty years later, in 1808, when the ship Topaz landed on the island, it found a happy society of Christians living in prosperity and peace, free from crime, disease, murder --- and mutiny. Years later the Bible fell into the hands of a visiting whaler who brought it to America, but 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.


(From a sermon by Stephen Sheane, The Table of Shewbread, 5/25/2011)

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