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Today is September 16, 2021

Building crosses across America

By Steven Ward

Building crosses across America

Everything started with a photo in a newspaper.

Vicksburg resident Sara S. Abraham was reading a story in The Vicksburg Post in 1993 about the death of West Virginia lay Methodist minister Bernard Coffindaffer.

Coffindaffer, a former coal industry businessman who became a Christian later in life, began a roadside cross ministry in 1984 building trios of gold and royal blue crosses all over the country. The newspaper story said Coffindaffer’s ministry — Crosses of Mercy — would halt due to his death.

Coffindaffer’s story interested Abraham, but it was his photo that accompanied the story that grabbed her attention.

“He looked just like my father. My father was a judge. He (Coffindaffer) was in a robe in the paper’s photo and my father wore a robe as a judge. He really looked like him,” Abraham said.

Abraham cut the story out of the paper, folded it up and placed it inside her Bible. She didn’t give it much thought after that.

Sometime later, while in her study, Abraham picked up the Bible for an unrelated reason and the article fell out onto the floor.

“At that moment, that’s when the Lord spoke to me and impressed upon me that I should continue that cross ministry,” Abraham said.

Today, Abraham runs Crosses Across America, Inc. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to preserve, maintain, and construct wooden crosses across the country and further abroad. Abraham took over and restarted the ministry in 1999 making Vicksburg the international headquarters for Crosses Across America. Over 2,100 clusters of crosses exist to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ and the two thieves. The ministry refurbishes the standing crosses and erects new clusters of crosses along America’s interstates and other major thoroughfares.

Abraham’s ministry raises the money for the crosses and buys the materials needed. Different church and volunteer groups erect the crosses. The crosses must be erected on private land, she said.

Abraham said the ministry has changed her life.

“I love what I do. The people I’ve met doing this…we have been blessed by God,” Abraham said.

The point of the crosses?

Abraham wants motorists to look at them.

“When people look at those three crosses, they have a decision to make. Will they accept Christ in their life? Some people will drive past the crosses and it won’t change anything, but for others, it may change everything,” she said.

How well known is the ministry? Country singer Randy Travis recorded a song, “Three Wooden Crosses,” about Abraham’s mission in 2002. The song, written by Kim Williams and Doug Johnson, became Travis’ final No. 1 single when it was released and was named Song of the Year in 2003 by the Country Music Association.

“He (Travis) played it for me and asked what I thought of the song. I told him I didn’t like it but that I didn’t listen to country music or know anything about it. Me not liking it was probably a good thing,” she said laughing.

Abraham’s ministry has also started to build giant, 110-foot steel crosses as well. Three of the towering crosses have been erected in Mississippi — Batesville, Winona and one right next to Berry’s Seafood and Catfish House in Florence. The crosses cost about $200,000 a piece to construct.

The next giant cross will be built in Ripley.

“I do this because the Lord wants me to do it,” Abraham said.

To donate to Crosses Across America or find out more information, visit crossesacrossamerica.org or call 601-630-5562 or 601-619-0169.

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