Reachin’ Out and the Cross

Reach (Dictionary): To make a stretch with or as if with one’s hand; to strain after something; project; extend; to arrive at or come to something; to stretch out.
Reach (Bible): Stretch forth; hanker after; long for; am eager for; aspire to; to reach; hold out; complete; accomplish; and make perfect.

These days it seems there are many more ways than ever before to “reach out” with the gospel including Twitter, Facebook, etc. And each time we speak the truth of the gospel we shine like a light. That thought brought me to refocus what great men and women have done and are doing to share their faith. One example of “reachin’ out” were two men who shared their faith in amazing ways! The two men were Bernard Coffindafer and George Bennard. I found it interesting that both men had a shared name. The meaning of their name is “bold as a bear.”  They certainly lived up to that name. Their focus was on the cross!

Bernard Coffindafer

Michael Shannon provided a wonderful historical review of Coffindafer which I found to be quite interesting:

Have you ever driven down an interstate highway and saw a cluster of three giant crosses with a gold one in the middle? If you have, you have witnessed the product of the vision of Bernard Coffindafer. While he always described himself as a country boy, he was an accomplished and wealthy businessman. He also was a WWII veteran. After a serious heart attack, he had a vision for placing clusters of crosses on America’s highways. Starting in West Virginia, Coffindafer erected 1,842 clusters of crosses in 29 states. He spent his own fortune to make it happen, and drained his account from $3 million to almost nothing. And now the other half of the story.

Coffindafer died in 1993 before he could complete his goal, but others have joined in the endeavor. Led by Sara Abraham, a foundation, Crosses across America, was created to continue his mission, utilizing 14,000 volunteers. Coffindafer once said, “Not for saints or sinners. For everybody. They’re up for one sole reason, and that’s this: to remind people that Jesus was crucified on a cross at Calvary for our sins and that He is soon coming again.”

I have seen those wonderful crosses down south. They bring forth a powerful message of the Gospel and provide a testimony of what one person can achieve for God’s kingdom. His legacy lives on and they are still erecting crosses today!

George Bennard

The year was 1912 and George Bennard, an evangelist traveling throughout the Midwest, was heckled incessantly by several youth at a revival meeting in Michigan. Troubled by their disregard for the gospel, Bennard turned to Scripture to reflect on the work of Christ on the cross. He later recalled, “I seemed to have a vision.  I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable.” Bennard chose music to convey the grace of the cross. The melody came easily, and the first verse was completed by Bennard during a series of meetings in Albion, Michigan. Several months later, the remaining three verses were completed in Pokagon, Michigan, where Bennard was leading meetings at a local church. And now the other half of the story.

After completing the hymn, he performed the song in its entirety for the sponsoring pastor and his wife, Rev. Leroy and Ruby Bostwick, in the living room of the parsonage. The Bostwicks were moved to tears and incorporated the song in the revival service on June 7, 1913. Today it remains one of the most beloved hymns ever written.

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best,
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine
Such a wonderful beauty I see
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

When we see the legacies of these men we are deeply touched. All of us who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have some unique and special gifting. We need to seek that gifting and reach out as only we can!

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