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An Amazing Fact: Born in the Chinese province of Yunnan in 1371, Ma Sanpao (Cheng Ho) was captured and sent to serve in the army under Chu Ti in 1382. There he helped Chu Ti become Emperor Yonglo of the Ming Dynasty. To reward his work, Ma was made Grand Imperial Eunuch—and his name was changed to Zheng He.
Yonglo chose Zheng to head a series of naval expeditions to ports all over the Indian Ocean. Zheng had diplomatic, scientific, and commercial goals while traveling farther than any other admiral in history. He visited more than 35 countries, utilizing more than 100 ships and nearly 28,000 men in his Grand Fleet. The largest vessels were 444-foot treasure ships!
The fleet visited southern Asia in the first voyage, and by the seventh and last voyage, Zheng had been to east Africa, the Persian Gulf, Egypt, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Almost 30 countries sent envoys back to China to give homage to the emperor, and each nation welcomed Zheng and traded for Chinese goods.
Zheng’s voyages not only established Chinese trade routes throughout Asia and Africa, but also established China as the dominant world power. China was far more technologically advanced than any other culture, and no European force could have successfully challenged its authority.
Emperor Yonglo died in 1424, ending all naval expeditions until 1431. Between two and five years after Yonglo’s death, Cheng Ho himself died during a trip home from India, ending the seventh and final voyage of the Grand Fleet. China eventually banned all naval expeditions indefinitely. Future emperors practiced strict isolationism and burned all records of Cheng Ho’s voyages. Chinese influence in the world ended, which opened the door for the rise of European superpowers.
The successful travels of Cheng Ho stand in contrast to a search that will take place on the day of the Lord. Someday people will seek God’s Word but will not find it. “They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, But shall not find it” (Amos 8:12). Are you searching for God’s Word today?
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. 1 Samuel 3:1
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