As the day to erect the giant Cross Of Hope at Van Stadens River bridge draws closer, project founder and coordinator Robbie Hift says he is deeply moved by the ongoing outpouring of public support for the initiative.
The steel sections of the cross have been constructed and are with galvanisers. The white perspex sheets for cladding are expected to arrive from Durban any day. The concrete foundations and steel pedestal are in place on a site provided by a landowner who shares the Cross Of Hope vision. And all the other physical and manpower resources to erect the 5-story high cross are at hand. Everything needed to design, construct, erect, illuminate and secure the cross has been provided through donations by businesses, professionals and members of the public.
But offers of support are still coming in for the project to erect a giant cross on a high point opposite the bridge that is known for suicide jumps.
“I think what really has touched me is the heart of our people,” said Hift.
Heart attitude of public
“The heart attitude which shines through over and over again. The heart of strangers who phone me and e mail me and who say: ‘How can we help? I don’t have much money but I want to be part of the Cross.’ Those who say: ‘Do you need any welding materials?’ Those who say: ‘I am the manager of this company in Port Elizabeth, and maybe you would like us to pay one of the invoices for the materials for cross?’ How about the businessman in Durban who e mailed me: ‘Robbie, it must be hard to support your family during this process of building the cross, can we support you?’
“I felt humbled by the deep love that others have for the Lord. So many people have said: ‘Can we come and hold a thanksgiving service, when the cross is erected?’ Someone who obviously adores the Lord offered: ‘I was thinking how nice it would be if you would allow me to come to the foot of the cross and bring a pile of polished river stones. I would like to pack them carefully around the concrete base just so it looks really nice!’ And another gentleman requested: ‘Could we build a little box at the base of the cross and embed an open Bible there?’
“This one request is so exciting: ‘Can we come and landscape the ground around the foot of the cross so it looks clean and beautiful. Then we could put some wrought iron benches under the trees so that people could come and ponder on the wonder of the cross.’
“The number of well-wishers who call me and say: ‘We suffered a loss in our family just last week’ is actually quite shocking. Then they go on to share with me their great sadness: the fact that a brother or a father or a husband or a friend committed suicide just the week before.
Reason for the cross
“Then I begin to realise all over again the reason why the Lord wanted this cross in the first place. I remember afresh the original word He gave me from Proverbs 29:18 which says ‘My people will perish for lack of vision, but He who keeps the law will be blessed.’ ”
Upon completion, the cross, with the message ‘Jesus Loves You’ spelled out in 4m high letters at its base, is intended to encourage all people who use the bridge that God loves them and offers hope in every situation, he said.
Hift had a vision from God, in December 2012, to build the cross. Now that the realisation of that dream is so close he said it is difficult for him to be patient. But he realises that God wants the cross to be built to endure.
In a prayer to God he wrote: “You already know who will cross the bridge in 2113, a hundred years from now. You already know who will need your encouragement, before they are even born, while they are still in their mother’s womb. For this purpose, You gave us Jesus as our saviour, as a light to the world. We won’t worship the cross, but we will surely worship the One who died upon that cross!’
“Well, one day soon we will all drive across the bridge and look across the valley to the Cross of Hope standing high up on the mountain. Then we will all ponder on the wonder of Jesus Christ and be encouraged all over again in this long and difficult life!”