Carrying the Cross

Carrying the Cross
By Shari Harris
Co-Publisher
The Rock Springs Baptist Church Youth Group in the center of town. From left: Ashley Reiter, Skylynn Bates, Abby Cole, Kylee Braizer, Lexi Hadix, Kenley Keaton, Khloe Kinder, Addie Heart, Mandy Dunlap, Aubri Stephens, Lizzie Lewis, Carrie Kinder, Maddie Cole, Maggie Cline, Hannah Tillery, Kaleb Keaton, Evan Mitchell, Myrissa Sherrill, Lainy Hadix, Tiana Lewis, and Spencer Grover.

The morning drive to Licking, south along Hwy. 63, isn’t typically very exciting, especially once you round the curve south of Hwy. K in southern Phelps County. From there, it’s a straight shot and only the gentle hills along the way block the view of your destination. Good Friday was not a typical day.
The Carrying the Cross campaign had Missourians out in large numbers, with the first sighting by this driver at the northern Texas County line. Larry and Meri Wrest of Licking, in their fifth year with the effort, held a cross on the west side of the highway. Across from them were Claudia and Brian Beyer of St. Clair, in their fourth year, with their cross.

This was only a sign of things to come. Every quarter mile or so from there, Christians bundled up against the cold were holding crosses. Pastor Erin and Isobel McConnell of Licking Pentecostal Holiness Church and Eric Jones of Licking bookended the city, at the north and south city limit signs, respectively. Between them were many others holding crosses and waving at passersby.
The Rock Springs Baptist Church Youth Group was stationed in the middle of town, in front of the Scenic Rivers Inn. A line of youth and their sponsors braved the cold to share their message with others. Wendy Ewing, a traveler from Kansas, stopped to tell youth group sponsor Carrie Kinder how inspirational they were to her. She remarked how she had been feeling down, and seeing people holding the crosses had given her hope. Kinder reported she was the second person so far who had stopped and thanked them.

Carry the Cross began in 2012, and was the vision of Pastor David Craig of Sikeston. According to www.carrythecrossnow.com, “it is every day Christians taking anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to hold the cross in a public way on Good Friday…with fellow Christians.” Initially the vision was to construct the largest living cross in the world by displaying about 1500 crosses, about every 1/4-mile, along Hwy. 63 and Hwy. 60, across the state. It has grown and they now encourage all groups to mobilize and carry a cross along the streets and highways of their community from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Thousands of believers lined Hwy. 63 and Hwy. 60 in Texas County, which along with Howell County encompasses the center of the cross, where the highways meet. The believers’ efforts are not unnoticed, and their message of love and hope of Jesus is heard.

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