If you go to the state of Idaho today, the U. S. Forest Service has identified and marked some of the trails Lewis and Clark traveled in 1803 – 1804. The trails were created thousands of years before Lewis and Clark, by the Native Americans traveling to the buffalo hunting grounds and back. It was in these mountains that Lewis and his men were close to starvation. Lewis sent a small advance party ahead of the main group on foot, hoping to find an Indian tribe that had food. As the advance party emerged from the mountains onto the prairie, they surprised a Nez Perce foraging party, consisting of mainly women, children and older men. They were digging camas roots for food.
The Indians were startled by the strangers. Though they had heard of the white man from other tribes, they had never seen one and these strangers did not look white. The Americans were very dark due to sunburns, had full straggly beards. They were dirty, stinky men dressed in strange clothing with things on their heads (hats), and spoke words they did not understand. They later stated that initially they thought the Americans were a form of wild dog.
After the initial meeting was over and the tribe had fed the party camas roots and dried fish, Lewis’ men made their camp for the night outside the village. The unusual food made all the men sick. The Indians meanwhile convened a tribal meeting to decide what to do with the strangers. It was agreed that they would kill Lewis and all of his men.
Nez Perce tradition says the reason they decided to kill the men was because the tribe had recently sent a peace delegation to the Shoshones to establish friendly relations, but the peace overtures were rejected and the entire delegation was killed. When Lewis and his group showed up, they had with them a female Shoshone guide, Sacajawea. The Nez Perce were afraid this group was a Shoshone Trojan horse to destroy their village.
An Indian woman named, Watkuweis, whose name means “Returns from a Far Land”, objected. She had been kidnapped by the Minitarries tribe and taken north, eventually ending up in the Great Lakes area where she saw white people. After being the slave of a white man, she escaped and was given supplies and a horse by kind white people, which allowed her to eventually reach her Idaho tribe.
She told the group that it would be wrong to kill these strangers, because they were good people like the ones who had helped her to escape.
Due to the kindness shown this poor woman, by white strangers who had nothing to gain by helping her, the Nez Perce spared the lives of Lewis, Clark and the twenty members of the Corp.
We do not know if these white people where Christians or not but, at a minimum, I believe they had been influenced by Christian teaching or culture. The wilderness was a tough place to live and a wicked person would definitely not have a problem with making someone his slave to share some of the tasks.
The point is, they helped save the life of this poor, abused, lonely woman and later, their kind, unselfish, deed was multiplied at least 22 times by saving the lives of the expedition members. These people never knew their kindness saved Lewis and his men.
As born again people, our Heavenly Father, has given us instructions through Paul about good deeds:
“Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.” Titus 3:14 NASB
Paul says again to Titus:
“This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Titus 3:8 NASB
Therefore, let this true story encourage us to “engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs”. We may never know what fruit is borne in other’s lives because of our compassion. But, there is coming a day when all shall be revealed and we will know the whole story.
Before you and I were saved, God had already prepared good deeds for us to engage in.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NASB
And Lord Jesus said;
“By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8
May your, “walking in good works”, bring joy to you and to the Lord. At the same time, we will be glorifying our Father in heaven! Blessings upon you.
Thank you for your time,