Exclusive to ASSIST News Service
By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (ANS, April 18, 2017) — The first time Pastor Jack McKee of New Life City Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland took the Cross to The Alamo was in 2012 as part of his “Cycle Cross America” tour.
“As we approached the Alamo from the front pedestrian area we were immediately approached by one of the armed security guards, who to me looked like a Police Officer! Holding his hands towards me he told me quite sternly that I was not permitted to step onto the sidewalk with cross!” Pastor Jack told ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net).
McKee said this did not make sense to him for several reasons. “As a Pastor from Northern Ireland I believed there was enough Christianity in America to permit the carrying of a cross onto any sidewalk!” McKee said.
“Secondly, The Alamo was at one time a Christian Mission outreach where the cross would have been central to its facade and its message.”
McKee continued: “Without taking sides, this was a place of sacrifice, where many laid down their lives for Texas and what it stood for at that time, one of them being Davy Crockett whose family came from Northern Ireland.”
So, for these reasons, McKee questioned the Officer as to why he was not permitted to step onto the sidewalk with the cross. “His response at that time was that it was federal property, and as such the cross was not permitted onto it.
“I asked what would happen if I stepped onto the sidewalk with the cross, and he made it clear that if I did, I would be arrested. So after further discussion I continued to stand at the kerb, but not on it, for the next couple of hours.”
Recently, when McKee was making plans to return to Texas to minister in several churches in the US, he felt deeply that he should bring the cross with him, and that he should return to the Alamo on Good Friday to once again lift the Cross, and if possible do so on the sidewalk, without making it a contentious issue!
“I was accompanied again by Charlie Farrell from New Jersey. He walked in front of me playing the bagpipes and wearing a green tartan kilt! We decided to approach the Alamo, not face on, but coming in from and along the sidewalk until we got to the front of the Alamo.”
McKee said everything was great until they hit the front of the Alamo, because no sooner had they got there when they were immediately approach by the same Officer from four years ago!
“With those same motions of his hands he sought to usher us from off the sidewalk. I said to him, ‘Can I ask you a question?’ He said, ‘Yes you can, but from down there!’ Meaning off the sidewalk!
“I continued trying to have a conversation with him, and while he was responding he was obviously more interested in ensuring I took the cross from off the sidewalk. The fact it was Good Friday made no difference!” McKee said.
Having stepped off the sidewalk, the two men continued to have a discussion as to why the Cross was not permitted on the sidewalk.
“I asked if I was breaking any laws, to which he replied, ‘No, but I would be ignoring rules relating to the Alamo.’ I asked what would happen if I stepped back onto the sidewalk with cross, and he replied, ‘Well in that case we would contact the police and have you arrested.’”
McKee said the Officer explained to him that all religious symbols were not permitted onto the Alamo site, and that to permit the cross would leave it open to others who might want to bring their religious symbols to the Alamo.
“I then saw a woman with a silver cross around her neck, and I pointed her out to the Officer, stating that the rule, in many respects, did not make sense.
“Our conversation was quite cordial both ways, as with other officers and employees, some of whom told me I was obviously quite a nice person, to which I agreed, and I fully recognized they were doing the job they were paid to do!”
So for the next three hours McKee and Farrell stood at the kerb, McKee holding the cross and Charlie playing the bagpipes.
“The three (hours) passed by so quickly as we got to speaking with quite a lot of people from across the USA and from across the world including the UK, China and Africa; even people on tour buses gave us a wave and thumbs up.
“People signed the cross and wished us well. One man, ex-US Military, gave me a bottle of water saying, ‘I’m honored to give this to a man willing to carry a Cross for our Lord.’
“While we were standing there, some of those who came to support and encourage us took time to witness and pray for people who stopped by,” McKee said.
According to McKee, ‘CU@ the Alamo’ was another successful day of witness as hundreds of people came to see the remains of an old Mission or an old defense outpost, but they (also) saw the cross Good Friday emblazoned with JOHN 3.16, and were reminded of the real message of this very special day as Farrell played ‘Amazing Grace’ on the bagpipes.
Photo Captions: 1) Pastor Jack McKee and Charlie Farrell outside The Alamo on Good Friday, 2017. 2) Pastor Jack talks with the security guard while Charlie Farrell plays the bagpipes. 3) Michael Ireland
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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