Some of our readers were aware that a special letter was enclosed in the unique time capsule that lies buried under the Jamestown Children's Memorial, a monument to the brave immigrants who landed at Jamestown on May 14, 1607. On the 500th Anniversary of that landing, the capsule will be opened and, if the Lord wills, some of our family's descendants will be there to read a message we have sent forward into time. Several present-day families have asked if they could have a peek at that message to see what it was we wanted to say to our descendants. We share it with you here in the hopes that you too will think far ahead into the future, imagine the victories that could await your great-grandchildren, and plan for their success.
From Geoffrey and Victoria Botkin
To our descendants on the occasion of the opening of the Jamestown Children's Memorial Time Capsule
To our dear great-grandchildren, whose days were ordained and numbered long ago:
Greetings from the past in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the hope of the great resurrection.
If you are wise, you will gather from this letter just how much you mean to us, and how much thought we have given to your inheritance. By this we mean all you inherit, and all you will leave for an inheritance after you.
As we contemplate the circumstances of your life and times, we know that we and you alike will have played a very direct role in the cultural conditions you are either suffering or enjoying.
How do we know this? In 2007 we invested time to obey the commands of Psalm 78. We have studied the ways God intervened in our family’s history. In looking at the years 1607, 1707, 1807, and 1907, we learned not only about our place in history, but yours, in the year 2107. We have discovered that students of history learn about God’s ways over many generations. We have discovered that students of God’s word come to understand the directions of history over many generations.
As we look at our Christian forebears at the time of the first American Centennial in 1707, we find solid and mature family fidelity, a careful obedience to scripture, and a fear of God that prompted God’s active favor. We also find some rare instances of careless indifference to God’s will. Let us tell you about the historic circumstances of 2007. The situation is exactly the opposite. The vast majority of your fathers in the year 2007 are “a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.” See Psalm 78:8. Many millions of American churchgoers honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him. God is not the strength of their salvation. This 2007 condition is perilous for all Christians living at the time of the next Centennial.
As we read the great promises of God and read the ways he wrote history, we tremble for your generation. This has provoked us to pray for you and to act for you. Thus our charge to our immediate descendants is simple but forceful: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. Psalm 78:7.
Because we have learned about the great momentum of history, we must also charge you to keep this tradition with all fidelity. The purpose of this letter is to remind you about your past and to challenge you to think with gratitude and purpose about the future. You must be faithful children and even more faithful “fathers” to the generations which will follow you. God deals with you covenantally, according to the ways you exercise your duties of dominion, and respond to those who exercised or neglected these duties. It is your response that indicates your standing in the covenant. Covenant keepers are blessed. Covenant breakers are at war with God and he responds accordingly, as he has promised.
The first great lesson of American history is that conditions do not remain the same from generation to generation. Christian families are continually tested by God to determine the condition of their hearts and the extent of their obedience. The second great lesson of American history is that assertive Christian families, even when a small minority, can triumph over conditions of national sin by directing society and culture to greater heights of righteousness and the blessings that come from God’s favor.
The names on this letter represent a family dynasty that began during a time of great national crisis and a period of accelerating divine judgment. Victoria and I were born into an anti-Christian culture. There was great hostility to the God of history. But he intervened in our lives in 1975, regenerating us by his unmerited favor. Practices of building our Christian marriage and family, starting in 1980, had to be recovered from a position of very primitive understanding. The building of our family legacy continues to be a pioneering effort. At the time of this writing, only a small minority of American families are seeking to recover the foundations of a godly heritage for the purposes of building a civil society according to biblical standards. Like our family, these families are also novice kingdom-builders. They know their efforts must begin in the family, and ultimately end with the family. This gives us hope, because we can control the culture of our families, and we know God blesses families that all the ends of the earth may fear him (Psalm 67:7).
In 2107, it will be your duty to continue recovering these foundations, whether you are in the majority or minority; whether a biblical order has been achieved, or whether a biblical order has been outlawed, and whether you are speaking Chinese, Arabic, or English. You will discharge your duty to the extent that you remember the past and build for the future. In anticipation of the great adventures you are facing in 2107, we have charged our immediate descendants to prepare the way for you. We have trained them to recover the culture of Christendom in the family, without compromise. We have trained them to shepherd the souls and hearts of children to seek God’s word so that applied Christianity can again disciple the hearts and minds of an ignorant and wayward nation.1
It is this kind of zealous, assertive faith and obedience that can move the hand of God as he guides the course of American history. It can indeed be moved away from terminal judgment toward gentle, protective, and covenantal favor.
Your parents’ faith is part of your immediate legacy. Your parents and grandparents have done a brave thing to build on crumbling foundations without compromise. As you follow this pioneering effort you will honor your parents. But you must also remember your more distant American legacy (1607-1807).
In 2007, a small minority of American families are attempting to recover the forgotten facts about Colonial America. That culture was Christian, and families were protecting the Christian character of the culture by properly discipling their children. When French scholar Alexis de Tocqueville saw the fruit of this society in the 1820s, he was in awe. He said he was tempted to burn his books because no authors had ever imagined such a culture. No historians or political scientists had ever conceived the kinds of freedoms and blessings that were poured on Colonial society. No one had described it in writing. Many authors had predicted other versions of utopian society, but none had ever described the mature orderliness and liberty of the culture Americans had inherited in 1807. The authors in Toqueville’s library did not know enough about the promised blessings of God to know what nations could look like under a comprehensively Christian design. But it happened in Colonial America. It happened because of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling covenantal promises to faithful Christian families.
American history is marked by triumph and tragedy. It took almost 200 years for the colonies to gain the freedom to chart a course for an independent, self-governing nation. Over the next 200 years that freedom was surrendered and the Christian foundations of America defaced and destroyed because of the negligence of unfaithful Christian families. Thus America is unique in world history for its conscientious gratitude to the God of providence, and for the arrogant ingratitude that ended God’s unprecedented national favor. America enjoyed two centuries of unmatched historical faithfulness. Then followed two hundred years of inexcusable infidelity, with all the suffering God justly delivers.2 How will our family dynasty respond to these historical and theological realities? What we do and what you do will determine the historical record of America’s sixth and seventh centuries.
You are the descendants of a new, conscientiously Christian dynasty. Victoria and I have solemnly charged our children to reject compromise and syncretism and to pursue fidelity. Christian culture can be restored again to the West and it can endure with greater permanence if Christian families refuse to surrender their responsibilities.
If many families join this effort in the next two generations, you will have inherited better prospects for God’s blessing than the prospects of 2007. If God blesses you with that inheritance you must remember that it was built on the assertive and purposeful obedience of your parents who were inspired by the legacy of 17th and 18th century pioneers and nation-builders. This family legacy you must preserve and extend.
If, however, the large Church-going American population continues to honor God with lips only, giving their hearts to a rival god called The State, you will be inheriting the bitter fruit of the judgment America deserves for her infidelities of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. In 2007, America is being admonished with the early chastisements of Leviticus 26. America is currently ignoring this measured warning, and we tremble not only for you, but for the children who sign this letter. Our children know full well that the coming corrections may be long and painful. They also know that we deserve much more chastisement than is being lovingly administered at the hour of this writing.
Will the worst of God’s loving chastisement be past in 2107? This we cannot see. Whatever the conditions of your inheritance, your duty is the same. Whether in peacetime affluence or postwar squalor, the culture of family fidelity and the fear of God must be cultivated, preserved, and extended into the future by you and your children. It must be extended as far as you can see into the future. Look toward 2207. Six hundred years after your Christian forebears planted a Christian Colony in the new world, your descendants must be in a position to improve on the applied biblical faith of those pioneers.
God deals with all of us according to an unchanging covenant. The favor or chastisement that fall on you or your children will reflect the way you have prepared your hearts to observe the words of his law, including the words of Matthew 28:18-20.
We look forward to a family reunion in heaven that recounts not only the faithfulness of God as he supported the struggling pioneer family dynasties who entered his rest and who delighted the Lord their God by receiving his greatest blessings, but the faithfulness of our thousands of descendants. How blessed is the man who fears the Lord and delights greatly in his commandments. His descendants will be mighty on the earth. Psalm 112:1.
Joyfully in Christ, your loving forefathers,
Anna Sofia Botkin