Sunday, May 28, 2017

Remembering Our Fallen Soldiers

It was 1782, in the heat of the American Revolution. Our brave boys, under General Broadhead, were sent out West (Ohio country) to secure the territory against the British and their Indian allies. This was good ol' fashion Indian war, where we "civilized" the savage through musket and hatchet. The British, out of necessity, had called upon their Indian allies, posturing themselves against the patriot cause, which the French had done against them during the Seven Years War.

Our god-fearing soldiers, a contingent of Pennsylvania militia under Lieutenant-Colonel Williamson, stumbled across Gnadenhutten (meaning 'villages of grace' in German), a Lenape Moravian town. There men, women, and children resided, living as Christians in a small farming community, where they worked and worshiped together. This was a missions community, originally planted by German missionaries, but relocated after death and destruction ravaged country further East. If one did not pledge clear loyalty to the Loyalist or the Patriot cause, the other considered you automatically a part of the enemy. Neutrality invited hatred from both sides, and the Moravian missionaries (unlike the compromised communities back East) still resisted clear allegiance one way or another.

There were 96 Christians living in this village. These American soldiers, fired by love of country and their god, rounded them up and placed them under arrest. Over the course of three days, the American militia, being led by an officer of the Continental Army, ratified by the Continental Congress, brought groups of these Lenape to a tent in which they were slaughtered. These Christians huddled together, comforting one another with hymns and prayers. If any tried to flee they were shot dead. Once in the tent, the Lenape Christians were beaten to death with clubs, bashing their brains out in order to save shot. Not once did they attempt to resist. Like the blessed martyrs, they remained true to Christ's commands to eschew the prince of darkness and the violence of carnal warfare. And even to the end, through the blood-curdling cries and screams of those being beaten to death, they remained hopeful and joyous. After all Christians were exterminated, Gnadenhutten was looted and burned.

How do we know? Because two Lenape boys escaped to tell the tale. Many local frontiers people rejoiced at the death of these Indian savages. None of the soldiers were tried or convicted for any crime (for Indian life was generally considered pestilential and worthless by many colonists). George Washington, that truly brave father of our country, feared that the Lenape would seek revenge. This is the same man who bumbled his way into ushering in the Seven Years War. There was no remorse, no contrition, only the acts of a seared conscience who tried to cover-up the incident for the sake of political necessity and military need. The disaster was seen by returning friends, both German and Lenape, to find an altar to the god of death, the altar upon which most of the Americas was built. Joseph Heckwelder, a Moravian missionary among the Lenape, gathered the remains and gave them a respectful burial.

But through the eyes of faith, we see that they indeed conquered by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.

Happy Memorial Day.

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