“Why Remember the Alamo?”
By Pastor Ron Buxton
In the very last chapter in the letter to the Hebrews, the writer tells the reader to “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them–those who are mistreated–since you yourselves are in the body also.” (13:3) And, sadly, most American Christians think that he is referring to legally incarcerated people. He is not. Rather, the writer mentioned those folks who were imprisoned for their faith in Jesus Christ. Big difference. I am of the opinion that modern believers have grown soft towards the harsh reality found in the rest of the world. How can I say that? We are so oblivious to all kinds of hostility and persecution that others endure due to their faith. And our narcissistic culture has reinforced that.
According to recent and credible sources, eleven people each day are killed for their Christian faith. Additionally, twelve people are daily imprisoned for that very same charge. Did you know that? And that’s who the writer to Hebrews wants us to “remember”. But why? Allow me to give you a reason that you might not have ever thought about before. You see, our remembrance of their horrible plight–paradoxically–encourages us!
A little grammar lesson is in order. The English word “encourage” is comprised of two parts: a prefix “en” + a noun “courage”. Literally, it means to place courage within something else. And so, when we “remember” those who are suffering bravely for Christ, we are actually emboldened in our own faith. One of the great paradoxes of the Bible.
History itself proves this paradox. In 1836, Tejanos shouted to each other: “Remember the Alamo!”. Was that a call to pity those who died in that battle in San Antonio? No. To the contrary, it was a challenge to fight for the State of Texas because of the bravery displayed on March 6th, 1836. It was to remember the courage of two hundred men who simply wouldn’t surrender amid an impossible situation.
And this is not just an American thing. The country of Mexico also experienced this same phenomenon. It happened on September 13th, 1847. Six military cadets–known as “Los Niños Héroes”–also died, and didn’t surrender, amid certain defeat against overwhelming U.S. forces during the Mexican-American War. As a result, throughout Mexico those boys are “remembered”–not for pity’s sake—but for the sake of their great courage. And, paradoxically, their courage produced (and continues to produce) encouragement to our neighbors south of the border.
Allow me to now make application for the Christian living in the 21st century. No doubt, we simply haven’t “remembered” the bravery of men and women who are currently suffering persecution for the cause of Christ. And that’s why courage is in short supply among us today. But please get this. We don’t “remember” for the sake of pity! No. We “remember” to pray for them, and also, paradoxically, for an infusion of courage into our own souls. Remember the persecuted Church–and be encouraged!