BRANSON — Visitors to Branson will soon have a visual reminder of the hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.”
A 200-foot cross is planned for Bear Mountain, second highest mountain in the Ozarks, located next to US 65 with an elevation of 100 feet from the highway.
Kerry Brown, executive director of Images at the Cross, a nondenominational group seeking to raise funds for erecting the cross, sees the need for this particular symbol in the heartland of America.
“We’ve seen how people in the world are beaten up,” he said, “with a lack of hope. We want to call them to a higher level of living by introducing them to Jesus Christ.”
He said the hillside should be cleared and the foundation ready by the end of 2012. The project could be done “with perfect timing and weather” in six months.
“My father, Dean Brown, purchased the land several years ago because he had this vision,” Brown said. “I can see how God is working to get this done because in April, we were able to purchase 13 acres next to the highway which we need to get equipment to the top of the hill.”
Kerry Brown said that was an answer to prayer.
“A couple years ago,” he said, “the purchase price of that land was $3 million dollars. After two years of lifting it to God in prayer, we closed on the property for $360,000.”
Doug Gabriel, longtime Branson entertainer with a show at Music City Center and a member of Woodland Hills Family Church, agreed that God is directing the project.
“I met Kerry when he attended a Christian business group I host,” he said. “I heard him talking about his father and I realized my dad had the same vision a long time ago. I believe God brought us both together to get the cross up.”
Gabriel has helped raise funds.
“We held ‘Golf Balls from Heaven,’” Gabriel said. “I sold tickets at my show and each golf ball was numbered. Each golf ball had a benefit to it and on July 7, we took the golf balls up in a helicopter over a Branson driving range and dropped them out. We had two winners. The one that landed in a hole earned $5,000 and the golf ball that landed farthest away earned $1,000.”
Gabriel reported that the fundraiser was successful and they have plans to raise more of the $3-5 million necessary to construct the cross.
“I believe God will use the cross to bring many people to Him,” he said.
Brown has a vision for fundraising.
“We have 200 million professing Christians in the U.S.,” he said, “and if congregations donated $1 per member, we would have enough to build and operate the cross. Pastors need to know that we are not pulling from their flock or to take the tithe.”
Brown sees the cross as an interactive tool to tell the story of Jesus.
“The cross is designed with twin elevators leading up to the cross bar featuring the life of Christ,” he said. “We want it to touch and reach hearts to help people see the great love He has for us. We want this to be a place of encounter to help people know God.”
More information about the cross is available at www.imagesatthecross.org.