Juicy Ecumenism | Faith McDonnell | September 2, 2020
When his family fled in the 1960s from Communist Cuba, Maximo Alvarez found a place of refuge and freedom in the United States. Alvarez spoke on the first night of the Republican National Convention, August 24. He warned that if Communism came to the U.S. it would destroy that freedom.
I’m speaking to you today because I’ve seen people like this before. I’ve seen movements like this before. I’ve seen ideas like this before and I’m here to tell you, we cannot let them take over our country. Maximo Alvarez
The proud Cuban American is the founder and president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors. On July 10 he participated in President Trump’s round table discussion on how to help the people of Venezuela and Cuba. Alvarez emphasized America’s uniqueness. He applauded the ability of everyone to be successful — if they are willing to work hard and smart.
Freedom from the Slavery of False Promises
“There’s no other country in the world where you can start a business from the trunk of your car,” he said, “and within a very few years — with hard work, commitment, and all the core values that we learn from this very culture of ours — we can become…those people who make the next generation better than the one before.” His business is now one of the largest branded independent suppliers of gasoline in the Southeastern United States.
Those false promises — spread the wealth, free education, free healthcare, defund the police, trust a socialist state more than your family and community — they don’t sound radical to my ears. They sound familiar. Maximo Alvarez
At the RNC 2020, choking back tears, Alvarez pleaded we not lose of our beloved nation. Socialism has grown in popularity for the Left in America. But as he said at the July round table, “socialism is nothing but communism during Halloween.”
“Right now it is up to us to decide our fate and to choose freedom over oppression,” he declared.
Listen to Them. Learn the Truth.
The Cuban American patriot urged everyone listening to visit the Freedom Tower in Miami, saying:
Stop to listen and you can still hear the sounds of those broken promises being broken. It is the sound of waves in the ocean, carrying families clinging to pieces of wood, families with children who can’t swim, but willing to risk everything to reach this blessed land. It is the sound of tears hitting the paper of an application to become an American citizen. Most heard and liked the promises, but soon after they experienced the reality. Look at them. Listen to them. Learn the truth.
Against All Hope
Alvarez’ impassioned speech reminded me of another great Cuban lover of freedom. This one, Armando Valladares, is a long-time hero of mine.
Valladares was imprisoned for 22 years in Castro’s infamous Isla de Pinos Prison. Why? Because he refused to put a Communist slogan on his desk. His biography, Against All Hope, is a memoir of life in Castro’s Gulag. The title is a reference to Romans 4:18, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed. . . ” No need for audacity; he had hope in Christ. Christ is the only hope, in what was a hellish existence of suffering exquisitely perpetrated by Communism and Fidel Castro.
The great prisoner of faith and conscience was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Human Rights by President Reagan in 1988. But before that, soon after his release from the gulag, he was the recipient of IRD’s 1983 Religious Freedom Award.
IRD recognized Valladares for his uncompromising faithfulness to the Lord. But we also indicted churches in the West that were romanticizing Communism while millions of their fellow believers suffered. When Valladares received his award, we discovered how much the suffering of the Christians under Communism was worsened by that Western attitude.
Embracing the Tormentors
In his moving acceptance speech, Valladares revealed the betrayal of prisoners by churches of the religious left. He said in order to demoralize the political/religious prisoners, and hopefully to disillusion them to the point of abandoning their faith, “the Cuban communist indoctrinators repeatedly used the statements of support for Castro’s revolution made by some representatives of American Christian churches.”
Some churches were so enamored of Castro that they invited him to speak from their pulpits. When news reports of that obscenity or any article by an American clergyman praising Communism was published, “a translation would reach us and that was worse for the Christian political prisoners than the beatings or the hunger,” Valladares continued.
Valladares concluded, “While we waited for the solidarity embrace from our brothers in Christ, incomprehensively to us, those who were embraced were our tormentors.”
Shadows Not Yet Outrun
Fast forward. Maximo Alvarez told the RNC 2020, “When I watch the news in Seattle and Chicago and Portland, in other cities, when I see history being rewritten, when I hear the promises, I hear echoes of a former life I never wanted to hear again. I see shadows I thought I had outrun.”
Alvarez knows the misery and oppression that result when people are willing to give up freedom for false promises of an unattainable utopia. He shared with his fellow Americans his father’s warning, “Don’t lose this place! You’ll never be as lucky as me.”