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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: January 28, 2014.

Seventy-three seconds after lift-off, on JANUARY 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing its entire seven member crew, which included a high school teacher-the first private citizen to fly aboard the craft.

In his address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan stated:

“Today is a day for mourning…a national loss…

The members of the Challenger crew were pioneers…

The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.

The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future.”

Reagan continued:

“The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives.

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'”

President Reagan added:

“There’s a coincidence today.

On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama.

In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, ‘He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.’

Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake’s, complete.”

Sir Francis Drake died aboard the ship, Defiance, JANUARY 28, 1596, after a failed attempt to capture San Juan, Puerto Rico.

He was born around 1540 amidst religious upheaval in England.

During the Prayer Book Rebellion, 1549, his poor farmer father, Edward Drake, fled with his family to the coast where they lived on an old laid-up ship.

Edward was ordained as a Protestant minister and preached to sailors in the King’s Navy, afterwards becoming a vicar of Upchurch on the Medway.

Profoundly influenced, Francis would later have religious services on his ship twice a day.

Around the age of 12, Francis Drake was apprenticed to a ship transporting merchandise from France. The ship’s master, having no children, eventually bequeathed the ship to Francis, which began his prosperous sailing career.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Francis sailed numerous times to the Caribbean for trade.

He also raided Spanish ships and settlements, resulting in King Philip II of Spain calling him a pirate, El Draque, and offering the equivalent of six million dollars for his life.

In 1577, Francis began a voyage to circumnavigate the world, sailing down the coast of South America, past Tierra del Fuego and through the Strait of Magellan.

Through violent storms, he sailed and raided the Pacific Spanish coast of America as far north as California.

Turning west, he sailed to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, almost sinking on a reef.

He made it across the Indian Ocean, around Cape Horn and up the coast of Africa back to England in 1580, where he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1588, he helped repel the Spanish Armada from invading England.

Over 50 years before Drake’s voyage, the first to circumnavigate the world was Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

Sailing for Spain, Magellan set out in 1519 in search of a route to the East Indies, traveling down the coast of South America.

His fleet reached Cape Virgenes and concluded they had found passage because the waters were brine and deep.

Four ships went through the 373-mile long passage which Magellan called “Estrecho de Todos los Santos” or “Canal of All Saints,” as the date was November 1st, “All Saints’ Day.”

It came to be called the Strait of Magellan.

On the other side, Magellan saw the sea very still and peaceful, so he named it “Mar Pacifico” or “Pacific Ocean.”

Sailing for weeks without sighting land, food supplies dwindled and rotted, and men began to perish from scurvy, malnourishment, and dehydration. They sighted a small uninhabited island, restocked supplies, and set sail again on JANUARY 28, 1521.

They reached the Marianas, Guam and then the Philippine Islands.

Magellan communicated with native tribes through his Malay interpreter, Enrique.

They traded gifts with Rajah (King) Siaiu of Mazaua who guided them to the Island of Cebu.

The story was that on the Island of Cebu, Magellan met Rajah Humabon, who had an ill grandson.

Magellan (or one of his men) was able to cure or help this young boy, and in gratitude Chief Humabon and his queen Hara Amihan were baptized as Christians, along with 800 of followers.

Afterwards, Rajah Humabon and his ally Datu Zula entangled Magellan in a conflict with a neighboring chieftain, Datu Lapu-Lapu of the Island of Mactan.

Magellan had wished to convert Datu Lapu-Lapu to Christianity, but he was dismissive.

On the morning of April 27, 1521, around 1,500 of Datu Lapu-Lapu’s troops met the Spaniards on the beach and Magellan was hit by a bamboo spear, surrounded and killed.

His ship, Victoria, finally made it back to Spain in September of 1522.

The Philippine Islands went on to become the most Christian nation in Asia, with 93% of it population of 93.3 million being Christian.

As a nation, the Philippines has the 5th largest number of Christians, following the United States (246.8 million), Brazil (175.8 million), Mexico (107.8 million) and Russia (105.2 million).

Following the Philippines are Nigeria (80.5 million), China (67 million), Democratic Republic of Congo (63.2 million), Germany (58.2 million) and Ethiopia (52.6 million).

The Pew Foundation reported:

“The number of Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years, from 600 million in 1910.”






William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.

To learn more about the author please visit  William Federer






Featured image: Courtesy of DeAgostini/Getty Images

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