With a steady stream of good gospel music being performed under the pavilion, as well as a number of church group vendors selling food or religious-themed crafts, the Holy Trinity was strongly in evidence during the 20th annual Ammon Blueberry Festival on Saturday.
Visitors could hardly stroll far without seeing and/or feeling a divine blessing.
But at the far end of the large clump of vendors was a booth where the blessings may have been felt strongest.
Pastor Cecil McNeill of Flatwoods Community Baptist Church and Billy Wicker, president of Crosses for America, were the physical presence in a simple, blue-topped booth, but nothing that was said or done within that area wasn’t first ordained by the will of God.
McNeill and Wicker were there to give folks crosses. Not small crosses at the end of a chain necklace. Not a hand-held cross made of paper of cardboard. Not a stone or wooden cross to carry in the pocket. No, these were nearly three-foot tall wooden white crosses that included a metal post at the bottom for pushing into the ground and covered on both sides with reflective tape.
Yes, I said they were GIVING these crosses out … not selling. They were taking donations for them, but there was no pre-set amount. During the day, I saw single dollar bills as well as a full $20 bills go into the can in exchange for a cross.
“Our main goal is to get a cross into the hands of as many people as possible,” McNeill said. “So far we’ve got close to 1,800 crosses at Christian homes in 32 counties, and we’re getting more out there everyday.
“It seems as though the Christian is becoming more and more scattered,” he added. “It’s time we make the cross the symbol of Christians again.”
Parked alongside the Crosses for America booth was a pickup truck loaded with white crosses — far too many to count. But by the time Saturday’s event came to a close, a good-sized dent had been put into that number and the can on the table was stuffed full of donations.
How are these crosses getting into the hands of so many people?
Simple: Crosses for America is a mission of Flatwoods Community Baptist Church out of Lillington, and those involved — including McNeill and Wicker — are finding ways to put Christians and the crosses in the same place.
“We will go just about anywhere in order to get these crosses out to people,” McNeill said. “If there is a festival we can get to, we’ll go; if there is a church service we can attend and talk about what we are trying to do, we’ll go; if there is any community group that wants us, we’ll go.”
That right there is an invitation for every festival committee, church group, civic group, scout group and others to contact McNeill (910-984-4686) or Wicker (910-893-8748) and bring them to an event.
Seeing more and more of the white crosses in front yards, in front of businesses or anywhere else throughout Bladen County would be a small but pretty powerful thing — and I can’t urge folks enough to find a way to get one as soon as possible.
For full disclosure … yes, I got a cross on Saturday. I actually spent about two hours wondering if I should, but then a thought occurred to me. I’ve spent the past few summers fretting over the fact that my garden was being pilfered by squirrels, crows and whatever other kind of wildlife happened to be hungry in the neighborhood. I’ve tried everything to eradicate the nuisances, with no luck.
So instead, I decided I was going to get one of the nice white wooden crosses and place it in the middle of my garden. As we are told to do, I’ve turned the entire thing over to God, and his iconic symbol will preside over the situation on my behalf. I fully expect plump red tomatoes, good green and purple cabbage, fiery and sweet peppers, and more this growing season.
Now, what about you? Where will you put your cross?