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GREAT FALLS – The Bible tells us of a crucifixion that took place nearly 2,000 years ago on a hill called Golgotha in Jerusalem.
Three men were crucified on wooden crosses placed on the hillside.
On one cross was a vile, arrogant man who was completely unremorseful for any wrongdoing. On the other cross hung a man who was guilty of a crime but sought repentance and mercy and found it.
On the center cross hung Jesus Christ who was completely innocent of any crime or action that was considered sin.
Historical accounts say that a person who was hung on a cross did not die in a timely manner. Soldiers broke their legs, causing their body to drop, thus suffocating the person.
Jesus Christ, however, died in a timely manner. His legs were not broken.
The Biblical account of the three wooden crosses remain alive today in the heart of Christians.
To Pastor Zack Williams, of Second Baptist Church in Great Falls, the center cross tells a story – a story that changed his life and the lives of many others.
“For a man like me, the cross means everything,” Williams said. “All of history hinges on the cross.”
The history before and after the cross have great significance, Williams said.
As written in an old hymn, the old rugged cross was a symbol of suffering and shame.
“We’re trying to remind people about Jesus,” Williams said.
“So many crosses in church today are smooth and don’t really depict how brutal the cross was. The cross was an execution device.”
People often wear smooth crosses on chains around their necks. But to Williams, wearing a cross is equivalent to wearing an execution chair as a charm.
“We put them [the crosses] up to show people that the cross is not a pretty thing,” he said.
In John 3:14-15, the Bible says “even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Williams also referred to 1 Cor. 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
Williams said about 15 to 20 people helped put the cedar crosses on the hillside between the church and the Family Life Center.
He said father and son team Hazel and Michael Funderburk built the crosses.
The center cross stands about 19-feet tall and the crosses on the side are about 15- or 16-feet tall. The cedar crosses have cedar shavings at the base and small solar lights lend a little light at nighttime to the wooden beams. Plans are to install permanent lighting on the crosses.
Williams said the church is considering adding some type of prayer garden to the area.
Second Baptist Church member Johnny Small had a hand in the cross project. Small has had a couple of strokes and is physically limited as to how much he can
“I helped as much as I could,” Small said.
Small said the group worked all day on Jan. 5 to construct the crosses. He said they started at about 9 a.m. and finished at about 4 p.m. Some members knew where to get the large cedar trees to make the crosses.
They cut and bolted the upright posts together, Small said.
Small said Greg Bowers of Bowers Towing in Lancaster used his wrecker to help place the large crosses in the ground.
When asked what the crosses meant to him, Small teared up and had to wipe tears from his eyes.
“To me, they mean life. Before the cross, I had no life,” he said. “I was looking for my next crack rock.”
Small said he has been sober for 18 or 19 months.
“I’m not the same man,” he said.
“To me, it should be me on the cross but I thank God that He saw fit to have mercy on an old drug addict like myself.”
Williams invites everyone to ride by and take a look at the crosses on the small hillside.
He hopes the crosses will give people a slight glimpse at Calvary and what the crosses represent.
“We’re the church with the three big crosses,” Williams said. “I call them the eighth wonder of the world.”