Today is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday that commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 defeat of France at the Battle of Puebla. This victory, where a rag-tag force of 2,000 overcame 6,000 well-trained French troops, bolstered the Mexican people in their resistance against the French. Six years later, French forces withdrew. Cinco de Mayo remains a symbol of the Mexican people’s struggle against imperialistic forces.
Celebrations will be held in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and other cities with large Mexican-American populations. Today’s festivities will include parades, mariachi music performances, and street festivals.
Contrast today in Mexico and the U.S. with May 5 in Israel. Holocaust Memorial Day, known as Yom HaShoah, begins each year with sundown on May 4 and concludes at sundown on May 5. I have been in Israel on this day several times over the years. It is always one of the most solemn experiences of my year (For more on Tom HaShoah, see Nick Pitt’s article Why it’s so important to take time out to remember the Holocaust).
This notice is given to hotel guests on May 4: “On Holocaust Day we remember the six million brothers and sisters who were murdered by the Nazi regime and those who survived. From this evening until the following morning, all places of entertainment, bars, restaurants, cinema, and theater must be closed by law. At 10:00 A.M. a siren will be heard for one minute.” When that siren sounds today, traffic on the roads will stop. The entire nation will cease all activities as its people remember what happened and pledge that it must never happen again.
In light of today’s contrasting events, I would like to make two requests of you.
One: Stop and pray for the thirty-three million Mexican-Americans living in the U.S. Eleven million are immigrants; twenty-two million were born in the U.S. Whatever your views on immigration, know that God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. Pray for this people-group, some ten percent of the American population, to know Christ as Savior and live for him as Lord.
Two: At 10:00 A.M., stop and pray for the people of Israel. Ask God to comfort them in their grief and to protect them from their enemies. They are surrounded by Hamas on the west, Hezbollah on the north, and ISIS on the south and northeast. I pray daily for their security and for a great spiritual awakening to lead many to their Messiah.
For Christians, Cinco de Mayo can come every day as we celebrate our victory in Christ. And Holocaust Memorial Day should be every day, as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). Jesus died for us all, whatever our ethnicity. He is the only Prince of Peace, the solution to terrorism and conflict in the Middle East and around the world.
Imagine a day when all people, whatever their race or region or religion, turn to him as their King. That day is coming: one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10–11).
Will you pray for that day to come today?