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GOD & TEXAS: Angelina


Remember El Turko or Ysopete? Historic Texas had many individuals who assisted early explorers as they traveled through the future Lone Star State. These scouts, guides, mediators, and interpreters helped the explorers and settlers navigate and communicate in the new frontier.

In 1541, native Indians El Turko, XABE, and Ysopete were enlisted to guide Spanish conquistador Coronado to the wealthy city of Quivira. That intriguing story did not end well.

Manuel Alegre, a leader in the Copano-Karankawa tribe, was secured to mediate and interpret for Spanish sea captain Jose Montezuma in 1780. That dangerous mission ended in shipwreck.

In 1836, Luis Sanchez, of Spanish and Indian parents, was procured by Texas president Sam Houston to negotiate relations among many of the indigenous tribes in south and east Texas. Sanchez initiated and finalized diplomatic treaties for Houston that were mostly disregarded later by president Mirabeau Lamar.

But none of these interpreters and scouts surpassed the influence of a young Indian maiden named Angelina. Born into the Hasinai tribe of East Texas, she was taught about Christ by the Spanish missionaries. When she was baptized as a Christian in 1690, she was given the Christian name of Angelina.

The missionaries took her to Mexico where she was educated by Spanish friars at the Mission of San Juan Bautista on the Rio Grande, and the College of Zacatecas. After she had become fluent in multiple languages, Angelina served as an interpreter for the Spanish and the French colonizers.

Angelina’s efforts as a trusted mediator are referenced in two French and three Spanish journals. “The little angel,” as she was affectionately known, interpreted for Domingo Ramon and St. Denis, who established missions and a presidio in East Texas in 1716. Later in 1718 and 1719, she translated for an expedition that ultimately built the Alamo and founded the town of San Antonio.

In 1720, Angelina assisted Spanish governor Joseph de Azlor when he went to her birthplace in East Texas to restore missions and presidios abandoned after the French invasion of 1719. It is in the Lufkin area that Angelina is best remembered. The Angelina River and Angelina National Forest are named for this young Hasinai mediator. And Angelina County is the only county in Texas named for a woman.

Angelina was known for bridging cultures, assuaging rivalries, and uniting potential enemies with her kindness, wisdom, and mutual respect. In many ways, the work of Angelina reminds us of the sacrificial ministry of intercession that Christ has today.

1 Timothy 2:5 NLT states, “For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.” The word “Mediator” means one who mediates (reconciles) between two parties with the desire to produce peace. Christ alone possesses Deity and humanity, and Christ alone can serve as Mediator between God and man.

As you pray today in the Name of Jesus, “Come boldly unto the Throne of Grace.” (Hebrews 4:16)


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