October 24, 2013
In a show of unity, students from secondary schools across the state are carrying a cross into every county.
Mississippi Glowing for Christ started at the state capitol steps August 7 and returns to Jackson October 27 for a celebration.
Representatives of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from the Holly Springs School District and Marshall Academy bore the cross from the Marshall/Benton county line to Holly Springs Thursday. Friday morning students from Byhalia, Potts Camp and H.W. Byers carried the cross on to Galena where they were to meet up with students from Tate County who were to carry the cross.
John Engstrom, area director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, stood out as he assisted Marshall County students with the 72nd day of the journey.
The 7-footer played basketball for the Ole Miss Rebels from 1997-2001. He joined FCA upon graduation from Ole Miss in August 2001.
A group, including mayor Kelvin Buck and former mayor Andre’ DeBerry, took part in a ceremony at dusk Thursday on the courthouse lawn where the story of Mission Mississippi’s role in the walk was clarified. The organization aims to encourage and demonstrate unity in Christ across racial and denominational lines.
Buck helped conduct the ceremony and received the cross from Engstrom on behalf of the city.
He referred to “The Old Rugged Cross,” a spiritual hymn that helps state the Christian faith of those celebrating the occasion or who have their spiritual roots in Christianity.
He said the hymn helps express the full meaning of what Mission Mississippi is all about.
DeBerry, in offering prayer, said, “Father, may we lay our problems at your feet.”
He prayed for unity and peace, and for understanding among God’s people.
“May we speak peace for a troubled world,” he said.
Engstrom said God had been with him from his youth and through his basketball days at Ole Miss.
“My testimony is the grace of Christ and God’s keeping power in my life,” he said.
FCA played a big part in his life, he said, adding that sports has been a standard bearer for the country. He acknowledged the accomplishments of the late Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball.
“I think we stand on level ground,” Engstrom said. “Christ shed his red blood on the cross. Because of what Christ has done for us, we’ve all got a place on his team.”
Buck took the opportunity to praise FCA and the students and Engstrom.
“Sometimes the students can show us how to make things happen,” he said.
Thomas Jenkins, a member of the board of directors of Mission Mississippi, gave his testimony.
“I’m a proud Mississippian,” he said, “Mississippi is no longer burning; we are shining.”
Mission Mississippi was begun in Mississippi Memorial Stadium 20 years ago when pastors of both black and white congregations gathered to seek reconciliation with one another.
This year Mission Mississippi is celebrating its 20th anniversary with this event.
“I had to rise above my unforgiveness,” he said.
Carla Jackson sang for the ceremony last week in front of the courthouse.
The cross will be carried into Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium this Sunday. Citizens from each of the 82 counties are invited to participate and each county will have two people carry the name of their county into the stadium. The cross will have travelled 2,444 miles when it arrives home.
Locally, First State Bank, the Bank of Holly Springs and Merchants & Farmers Bank purchased the T-shirts for the students to wear on the walk through Marshall County.
Carlisle’s Big Star provided drinks and snacks for the children to enjoy on the bus. The walk took four hours from the Benton County line to Holly Springs and then went along Highway 4 East to Galena, a journey of about three hours.
Officers with the Holly Springs Police Department and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department provided security and escort through the county.
For more information about Mission Mississippi or Mississippi Glowing, visit www.missionmississippi.org or call 601-353-6477.
Anyone who wants to go to Jackson to help carry Marshall’s banner may call Vetra Gipson (404-805-0646) to volunteer and make arrangements for travel. All races are asked to participate.
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