What Really Happened to:
The Pilgrims, Columbus, and America’s Moon Voyages

(Excerpted from book Space Acts by Jerry Woodfill)
(Call 281-474-2974 for free presentation.)

Three ships played unique roles in the spiritual history of America. In like fashion, God selected Noah’s Ark, Jonah and Paul’s storm-tossed crafts as special vessels appointed to His plans and purposes. Likewise, among America’s ships of destiny are three vessels: Columbus’ Santa Maria, the Pilgrim’s Mayflower, and NASA’s lunar lander Eagle. While the former pair navigated Earth’s oceans, the latter sailed the ocean of space. Each was God’s instrument of a new beginning for America. New beginnings in scripture identify with the number 8. God created Earth and man in six days. He rested on the seventh day. On the eighth day, it all began. Abraham circumcised his son of promise on the eighth day that began Isaac’s consecrated life.

With regard to Columbus’s journey, the locus of his route to and from the Old World was a figure 8. None of his remaining voyages scribed such a path. The Spirit of God linked Columbus’s journey to Neil Armstrong’s. Armstrong’s command ship had the name Columbia. Likewise, the Columbia’s path to the new celestial world in space formed a figure 8. The name Columbia is derived from the word columba meaning the dove, a type of the Holy Spirit. The Scripture affirms that the Holy Spirit is a guide. Additionally, God linked an admiral of space exploration with Columbus’s journey. Christopher Columbus Kraft founded flight operations and mission control. His flight controllers’ bunk room lock had the combination 1492, the year Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas.

Each of the ships experienced the promise of Deuteronomy 32:11,12: “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttered over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead…” God’s providence established the Eagle as the name of the first ship to land on the Moon. The Pilgrim’s Mayflower set sail for the New World from a place called the Spread Eagle. A spread eagle became the emblem of the nation they birthed. The bird’s image graced the coinage of Spain that sponsored Columbus’s discovery. The eagle represents God’s Son and His saints. Launched by Obadiah’s prophecy*, the eagle soared with Columbus and the Pilgrim fathers before nesting the first men on the Moon.

*Obadiah 1:4:”Though thou (America) exalt thyself as the eagle (name of Armstrong’s lander) and set thy nest (Eagle’s descent stage) among the stars (i.e., on the Moon), from thence will I bring thee down.” (God answered prayer bringing down Apollo 13 from the Moon after it exploded in route.)


Remember the TV series Mission Impossible? Through brilliant applications of technology, the program’s stars escaped dire consequences. The most impressive rescues used primitive items. For example, chewing gum wadded on a gun’s firing pin might cleverly disarm a villain. Such inventions entertained far more than exotic technology.

In like fashion, God’s witty inventions make wise the simple. Just as the promise of salvation offered by Christ is so simple that a child can understand, God answers life-threatening challenges in uncomplicated fashion. Columbus found freedom in an astronomy table listing lunar eclipse dates. Using it to show his native American capturers, he was deserving of freedom when he feigned his power to command the Moon to grow dark. Apollo 13 survived using duct tape. Likewise, God saved the Mayflower with a witty invention.

Though the Mayflower and Santa Maria look nothing like spaceship Eagle, God made them in like fashion. The lunar excursion module (LEM) was the Eagle’s original designation. It benefited from medieval and 18th century technology. Like the Santa Maria and Mayflower, Eagle’s parts were fashioned by hand, hewn from blocks of metal in the fashion of ship’s antique beams. Very little metal stamping or pressing contributed to the American lunar lander construction.

Another similarity of the vessels is the threat to each of their journeys. Satan’s chosen weapon for attacking all three vessels was a hurricane: Columbus’ first voyage of discovery, Apollo 13, and the Pilgrims’ Atlantic crossing faced deadly storms. Strangely, Apollo 13’s lunar destination prior to the explosion was the OCEAN OF STORMS. A fierce north Atlantic hurricane imperiled the Pilgrims’ voyage. The Mayflower’s mainsail’s footing beam warped severely. As a result, the wobbling mast appeared poised to break-through the footing. Loss of the anchoring base meant the huge timber would pile-drive into the hull. Impaled, with so gapping a wound, the Mayflower would surely sink.

In the beginning, the Pilgrims’ plan included two ships for safety sake. Loss of either made the other a lifeboat. This would assure no storm would cost the lives of the entire colonial party. Because Apollo 13’s mission included a two-ship convoy, the lander and a ferry ship, the astronauts survived.

Except for faith and prayer, the Mayflower was alone. Shortly after departure, the Speedwell, the Mayflower’s sister ship, proved unfit for the voyage. No alternative existed except to depart for the New World in only the Mayflower. God might have intended this course, reminding them of His Scripture, “Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord, our God.” (Psalms 20:11) By stripping the Pilgrims of their horses, the Speedwell, He would remind them that their success solely rested on His Providence.

In like fashion, He removed most of Gideon’s 30,000 troops by selecting only those who lapped water from a stream, a paltry 300 soldiers. In this way, He reminded both Gideon and the Pilgrims that the “battle is the Lord’s”, that His “grace is sufficient unto thee.”

As the contest for Mayflower’s survival raged, the powers of darkness appeared triumphant. Each wave’s blow against the oaken ship widened the warp in the mast’s support beam. The grave prospect was little different from that faced by Shuttle Challenger’s crew. When the Shuttle’s solid rocket seal opened, each ensuing second brought the seven astronauts nearer death. Likewise, the ever-expanding warp in Mayflower’s beam would prove fatal to all. Without some kind of miracle, death was certain, a 1620 episode of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE in the making. There would be no Plymouth Colony without a witty invention.

Just as Apollo 13’s rescue team inventoried items on board their space ship, the Pilgrims reviewed their manifest. As the women and children prayed, God delivered the solution, a simple machine existed whose employ might save their lives. As master carpenters, Pilgrim craftsmen understood the mechanical advantage of a screw device for shoring up warping timber.

But, who among them had ever seen so large a screw device as to brace a main sail’s support beam? A still small voice answered, “You have such a device on board. I have manifested it for the purpose of printing Christian literature, but it shall not only print to save souls, but save lives. USE IT NOW!” Unstowing the ponderous screw, the men swiftly positioned it under the warping beam and began the levering process. Slowly the warp receded, the mast firmed, and the Pilgrims rejoiced in Christ, their Savior. Those, like Columbus and the Apollo 13 crew, who faced impossible circumstances, i.e., a mission impossible, would birth America. Had not Christ said? “With God, nothing shall be impossible.”


To Columbus’s credit, he sought God’s guidance throughout his voyage of discovery, nevertheless, he erred in neglecting the Lord’s guidance in founding the first colony. The founding of La Navidad was a result of Santa Maria’s sinking, Christmas Eve of 1492.

Had Columbus revisited Plymouth Colony one year after the Pilgrims’ 1620 landing, he would have learned a valuable lesson about colonization of America. Surely, Columbus had read the Lord’s instruction to build upon the rock of faith in Christ Jesus. And that is the course the Pilgrim Fathers chose. It is true that Satan cruelly descended upon Plymouth’s men, women, and children with such dreadful diseases that half died that first winter. However, the colony not only survived but eventually thrived. There were even cases when the tribal peoples assisted the Pilgrims.

What a contrast! Two colonies with entirely different outcomes based on faithfulness to God as opposed to neglect and iniquity. Columbus’s colonists mistreated the native Americans causing them to rise up and kill every one of Columbus’s men who remained behind. They died as sinful reprobates while the faithful Pilgrims perished as martyrs for Christ in the New World.

Through their steadfast love of God, honoring of His Sabbath, and devotion to prayer and Bible reading, they triumphed. In so doing, they established an ancient landmark that can neither be removed nor forgotten. Christ is the chief cornerstone of the foundation they laid.



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