The Slave Ship Jesus

What’s in a name?

Jesus, for instance.  What’s in that name?

JESUS:  Love, kindness, gentleness, salvation.  “You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

JESUS:  Horror, despair, suffering, slavery, torture, captivity.   The first British slave ship to reach the Americas was known as The Good Ship Jesus.

King Henry VIII first purchased the 700-ton vessel, then christened Jesus of Lubeck, from Lubeck in Germany.  In 1562, Queen Elizabeth agreed to let John Hawkins use the mouldering ship for his excursion.

A deeply religious gentleman, Hawkins insisted that his crew “serve God daily” and “love one another” as he sailed his ship for Africa.  In a short time he had gathered up over 300 Africans “partly by sword and partly by other means.”  The other means included promising them free land and riches in the new world.

Interesting, that.  Hawkins had been granted permission to carry Africans to the Americas with the distinct understanding that it would only be “with their own free consent.”  Still, he returned home with a handsome profit and ships laden with ivory, hides, and sugar. Queen Elizabeth was livid.  She insisted Hawkins’ new business was absolutely detestable and would certainly “call down vengeance from heaven.”  Until she realized how profitable it was, that is.  Then she quickly changed her tune and joined Hawkins as a full partner.  Soon the new slave ship became known as The Good Ship Jesus.

In 1567, The Good Ship Jesus and five other ships on yet another slaving expedition came up against the Spaniards at St Juan d’Ulloa in New Spain (Mexico). Since the slave trade was still illegal, it was the habit of Spanish colonists to provoke the British ships into a charade of force. After a fair show, they would drop the pretense and buy slaves at a discount.  But this time the Spanish attacked the British ships.  The Good Ship Jesus, old and cumbersome, sank and the crew was slaughtered. Hawkins escaped with his cousin, Sir Frances Drake.

Hawkins returned to England where he remained in the service of the Queen.  In 1588, after gaining distinction for his pivotal role in defeating the Spanish Armada, he was knighted Sir John Hawkins.

As for the British slave trade, the rest is bitter history.

JESUS:  Forgivingess.  God with us.

“Consenting to slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust, as offensive in the sight of God as it is derogatory from our own honor.” 

John Adams

About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. I love to write, and speak, about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, Japan and South Korea, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with John Newton, 17th century slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland. In West Africa I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. I was struck dumb. From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Maybe you will choose to be a 21st century abolitionist too.
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43 Responses to The Slave Ship Jesus

  1. kaystrom says:

    No, I hadn’t. Shocking is right!

  2. Naja Lee says:

    This is full of crap. They stole us to fulfilled prophecy only to criticize us and undermine us into thinking that they was superior to us. when jesus came he provided equality. one thing they didn’t under stand or left out is the scripture before and after it states “master” . In the bible it uphold how a master should treat the slave which they neglected to do. God forgives but their will be judgment for their actions. Why would you say they came on their own consent. African in Africa had kingdoms jewels, and large businesses. They didn’t need to leave. King in queens in england were greedy so they sent their men into countries to steal, kill, and conquer their land. They did this in Africa, parts of india, mexico etc.

    • kaystrom says:

      Thank you for joining this discussion, Naja. I’m afraid I didn’t make my point clear. Of course you are right. The Africans most certainly did not come of their own free will. Being chained aboard a slave ship was horrific. What I said is that legal permission was granted Hawkins to gather up captives only if they came “with their own free consent.” But Hawkins completely ignored that requirement, and either no follow-up was done, or the regulators were paid off to look the other way. You are so right that the Bible lays out how a master is to treat his slaves, just as it lays out how husbands are to treat their wives, and how we are to love one another as Christ loved us. How horribly we fall short! And, yes, we will have to pay for what has been done, especially in the name of Jesus. Just as we will have to pay for ignoring the hurt in the world today.

      Thank you again for writing, Naja. May God bless you.
      ~Kay

  3. Elle says:

    Thanks for this, I did NOT know this. But I know I’m not for Christianity, this just proves even more of why I’m not.

    • kaystrom says:

      And yet it was largely Christians who brought about abolition of slavery. And laws against child labor. And relief to the starving in London, and those wrongly imprisoned in Pakistan and North Korea and elsewhere. It is also Christians who contribute the greatest amount to world relief, and who are the first to jump in and help dig out Pakistan and so many other nations from catastrophic earthquakes. Yes, Christians are flawed people. But they are also great people. “What does the Lord require of you? That you do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) What a different world this would be if we all followed those words! Thank you for writing, and a Happy and joyous 2016 to you~

  4. Rayon says:

    Hi, hope you can help. you seem like a nice lady, a lady of God. My question is why in your opinion would they name the ship good ship jesus? was this to fool the people of Africa to think it was a good thing and also where the people of Africa already christians before the slave ship got there and if not do you know what religion they served.

    • kaystrom says:

      Good questions. No, the people of Africa were not already Christians. For the most part, they followed local animist religions, worshipping the sun and moon and nature, and fearing evil spirits. Why would the English name the slave ship the “Good Ship Jesus”? Because they wanted God’s blessing on what they were doing. It meant money to them, so they convinced themselves that it was God-approved. Sounds a lot like some politicians do today!

  5. Carlyn Felton says:

    This information brought clarity to many. Surely no one willingly submits to the horrific conditions of enslavement. Also putting such deception and cruelty under the heading of Christianity doesn’t make it Christian. GOD is love. I fail to se the love in that situation. I do see some love in all people. Because of that love for others, that shameful episode in human history is over. GOD have mercy on the perpetrators.

    • Chrissy says:

      Carlyn if you replace Christian with Islam and God with Allah your statement is exactly what Muslims want…PEACE and LOVE. The unfortunate thing is you all follow the Old Testament which gives the Chosen people Dominion over all lands, sea, animals and endorses slavery and creates “Subjects” All Abrahamic religions are evil.

      • kaystrom says:

        The use of ALL is dangerous and immediately raises defenses. Many horrific things have been done in the name of every religion. And painting each other with so broad a brush does far more harm than good.

  6. kaystrom says:

    Yes, Carlyn. God have mercy indeed.

  7. Shirley says:

    This was new information for me, but was not shocked. All traps are snared by using something attractive, (cheese for mice). I don’t know the true nature of Christianity, and Christianty and Slavery but both are beliefs, a way of seeing something for your own benefit and justifications. Naming, Jesus slave ship in my opinion was a trap for the slaves and the use of Christianity, was justification for those who believed in human misery dressed up in a ship with a name they believed to be holly and could not possibly be UNJUST.

    • kaystrom says:

      Interesting, Shirley. People are forever trying to justify what they want to do. Terrorists are a good example of that.
      Or what they fear. Those who rail against immigration are a sad example of that.

  8. Mluleki says:

    hi Keytsrom do you by any chance know what skin color was Jesus ?

  9. Marcella says:

    Jesus is a Spaniard name not an African one, yet, the Bible clearly states as does the tracing back of the first human”Lucy”, that life originated in Africa. So if life originated in Africa, how did this “Messiah”, end up with a Spaniard name?

    That’s why I denounce that cursed name every chance I get. That’s the deity of the Spaniards (Europeans), that IS NOT the deity of the aboriginal Hue-man!! Accepting that deity as our own has angered our Creator and we as well as the rest of the world that’s non european has suffered every since!!!

    • kaystrom says:

      Thank you, Marcella, for your thoughtful message. Actually, Jesus is a Hebrew name, adapted by Spaniards because of their Catholicism. Today the name is found in many cultures. Jesus was not European, though many Europeans have claimed him as such. Surely he was a dark, swarthy man, mid-eastern in looks. But it’s interesting how Christ followers everywhere see him as they see themselves. In Africa, I’ve seen many crèche scenes with a black Jesus. In India and the mid-East as well. In China and Korea I’ve seen Asian portrayals. And of course, all the ridiculously blonde, blue-eyed pictures. I love the Christians in Sudan who point to the place they call the Garden of Eden. It’s at the head of the Nile River, a most fertile spot. Are they right? I don’t know, but it surely may be so. I certainly agree that we are one people who originated in Africa. Yes, too many Europeans are foolishly haughty, and think far too much of themselves. It is ever so. Yet there is so little we know. So little we understand. But the time will come when we will know and understand all. Until that day, may we reach out to each other in humility and forgiveness. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. God bless you.

      • Kojo Asa-Anie says:

        Kaystrom..which part of Africa did you see Jesus painted Black. Please name of country and the city. I want to go and see it myself..thank you

        • kaystrom says:

          In Dakar, Senegal. But I’ve been told such pictures are also in Nigeria and other African countries. By the way, Kojo, the picture I saw was truly beautiful.
          Thank you for writing.

  10. Hello.

    I appreciate this blog. It is good to expose the truth on the basis of the truth.

    Some of the folks who are evidently descendants of the Stolen show a lack of knowledge of many things. This is only the product of deception from both blacks and whites.

    As you say, Jesus was most likely a dark-complected Caucasian. He would likely look more like the actor who plays the role in “Risen”, than like any of the (especially very Anglo-Saxon) European actors who have portrayed Him.

    Some of the most important Christian scholars and theologians came from Africa. Among these was the chief influence of Martin Luther, Augustine of Hippo. whose impact on the development of western civilization is indelible.

    In the United States, despite being first refused access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then later fed an adulterated message meant to educe acquiescence to slavery, enslaved Africans embraced, not the caricature presented by their European and other captors. They became attracted to the character of Jesus Christ of the Bible. Further, even though preliterate and uneducated, they developed, reflected and taught what I call a surprisingly orthodox Bible-supported systematic theology. Our embrace was of Jesus Christ, not the synthetic Christic religiosity of most of the European and other captors of Africans. It is clear that as Jesus Christ said, the Holy Spirit would lead those who believe Him into all truth (John 16:13).

    This faith in the authentic Jesus Christ of the Bible is the biggest influence of our choice to patiently endure the indiginities inflicted upon us – and even seek the good of our enemies.

  11. Balinda says:

    My many years ago when I was a teen, my grandfather told me that his father told him that our ancestors came over to America on the “Good Ship Jesus”. That was all my grandfather knew of his family history. Now that I’m at the age my grandfather was when he told me of this ship called “Good Ship Jesus” my grandchildren will have a wealth of history. We may not know the names of our ancestors on that ship but my grandchildren will know that their history did not start with slavery. They will know about the kings and queens of African countries, they will learn that Africa was not poor, the people where poor, but the land was rich which is why many countries outside of Africa wanted a piece of it.

    • kaystrom says:

      Yes, Belinda, you do indeed have a rich and valuable heritage. How tragic that it took us so long to understand and accept that. Rich land, rich history, and people able to stand tall in conditions that few of us would have been able to endure. Thank you for participating in this discussion.

  12. Tribe of Judah says:

    Blacks (Negros) are really Hebrew Israelites from the Bible! Tribe of Judah, just like Yahshua! (Deuteronomy 28:15-68)

    1 Maccabees 3:48 – “And laid open the book of the law, wherein the heathen had sought to paint the likeness of their images.”

    1 Maccabees 3:41 – A force from Idumea and Philistia joined them. The merchants of the region heard about the strength of the army, and they came to the camp with chains and a large amount of money, hoping to buy some Jewish slaves.

    Joel 3:6 -The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.

    Baruch 4:6: Ye were sold to the nations, not for your destruction: but because ye moved God to wrath, ye were delivered unto the enemies.

    Baruch 4:15: For he hath brought a nation upon them from far, a shameless nation, and of a strange language, who neither reverenced old man, nor pitied child.

    Luke 21:24 – And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    Psalm 83:4 – They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.

    Jeremiah 5:19 – And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.

    Jeremiah 17:4 – And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.

    Revelation 2:9- I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

    Baruch 2:30-35: For I knew that they would not hear me, because it is a stiffnecked people: but in the land of their captivities they shall remember themselves. And shall know that I am the Lord their God: for I will give them an heart, and ears to hear: And they shall praise me in the land of their captivity, and think upon my name. And return from their stiff neck, and from their wicked deeds: for they shall remember the way of their fathers, which sinned before the Lord. And I will bring them again into the land which I promised with an oath unto their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they shall be lords of it: and I will increase them, and they shall not be diminished. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them to be their God, and they shall be my people: and I will no more drive my people of Israel out of the land that I have given them.

    • Dwight says:

      Tribe of Judah I noticed how no one replied or even acknowledged truth. No one can even bother to contest it with the scriptures given. Of those scriptires you gave should have made a lot of people very scared and some of our people very happy. There is a promise a covenant with our people and THE MOST HIGH that shall be fulfilled very soon.
      Thank you Tribe of Judah!
      I wish it were possible to correspond with you for you are a like minded man of THE MOST HIGH.

  13. Like this history very much

  14. Kathy Brundidge says:

    If this is true about the slave ship, why have people connected the ship to Jesus Christ, who came to give His life for mankind and save mankind from sin? Isn’t that ridiculous to do so?

    • kaystrom says:

      An excellent question, Kathy. People seem to be able to rationalize whatever they want to do. Many owners of slave ships professed to be Christians. Today, in various places in Africa, boys are kidnapped and forced to live and work endlessly aboard their kidnappers’ fishing boats. I saw a picture of one of the boats. The suffering young boys were inside the boat and on the outside was painted these words: JESUS SAVES. In Matthew, Jesus said, “In as much as you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.” I wouldn’t want to be in their place.

  15. Bobby L. Gilner says:

    Did the Jews own “The Good Ship Jessie”?

    • kaystrom says:

      No, Bobby, Jews did not own The Good Ship Jesus. It was purchased by England’s King Henry VIII from the Hanseatic League, a merchant alliance between the cities of Hamburg and Lubeck, both in Germany. Twenty years after its purchase, the ship, which was in very bad condition, Queen Elizabeth lent it to Sir John Hawkins, who used it as the first English slave ship.

  16. irving says:

    the letter j is only 500 years old, so it is impossible for Jesus Christ to exist. Jesus is the Slave Ship, not the PERSON, or the Son of GOD. There is no letter “J” in the King James 1611 Bible. The name was Iesous, not Jesus. Christ is a title that means “The Annointed”

  17. Timothy J. Durden, Sr. says:

    May I quote from this article in a research/documentary I am doing with proper credit given to the author?

  18. Folorunso Eddo says:

    Hello,
    I just want to thank you for this information. I am an African born to a Prince and a Princess from two different tribes. I understand the plight of my people in America. While it was the European that spear-headed the sales of my people, my fore-fathers were not guiltless either. Europeans could not have enslaved the Africans if they did not get the co-operations of the Kings, chiefs and their enemy (The Arabs). It was not the Africans that stopped slavery either but the same Europeans with their blood and sweat. Slavery is our history but it is not our future. We have to forgive and heal our souls. Many of my brothers and sisters ended up on this side of the Atlantic because it was Gods design. It is time we begin to heal our souls both Whites and Blacks. Let us be our brothers keepers and love our neighbors as ourselves. Thank you once again.

  19. dee says:

    The Father is YAHUACH AND THE SON IS YAHUSHA. Jesus is not a Hebrew name. It is an English name.

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