Symbols of faith bloom as demand for crosses increase
Published 10:15 am Friday, September 9, 2016
That is the number of crosses that Chris Johnson said he and the non-profit organization, Little White Crosses, have given away since November of last year.
“It started with those girls working in Nederland and fighting that Freedom From Religion group in Port Neches,” Johnson said.
“Tina Boneaux and the others were looking for some pallets to bust apart to make crosses… the Lord woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to help those girls.”
Johnson went on to meet with the newly formed group and started building little white crosses.
“Originally we made 1,200 crosses and that was to be the end of it. People volunteered and we were able to finish it. We announced it on Facebook — free crosses — and 70 people showed up. We handed out about 100 crosses just then. It was a cold day.
“Then more people started coming… and all the crosses were given away.”
For Johnson, it was a sign.
“I think God wanted us to keep doing this. It’s amazing. We’ve been making them ever since.”
Johnson said that the little white crosses have reached 40 states and at least two other countries like Canada and Mexico.
“We’ve seen Mexican families put the crosses in the back of their trucks to take them back home with them.”
And apparently, Southeast Texas was not the only area to start producing its own crosses.
“They’re being made in places like Chicago,” Johnson said. “There’s no telling how many people have been inspired from this [initiative].”
Johnson recalled instances where he and the volunteers “couldn’t make them fast enough.”
“We’d have times where we had just finished painting them and people would come up and start putting them in their cars.
“We’d tell them that they’re still wet and they’d say, ‘We don’t care.’”
To help reflect the expanding scope of the faith-based initiative, the name was changed from Little White Crosses Mid-County to Little White Crosses U.S.A.
Johnson said they get plenty of support locally and from online sites like Facebook.
“We get people contacting us, saying, ‘Hey, I think what’s happening here is phenomenal.’”
Johnson credits his faith for the success of his business and for the course that his life has taken.
“The Lord made me a businessman for His glory…
“I gave my life to Him and I could never repay the Lord for what He’s done for me. I can’t shout His name loud enough.”
The Little White Crosses group, in both name and sentiment, was not something divided along denominational lines for Johnson either — all Christian faiths could take part.
“It’s no particular church, we’re all God’s people,” Johnson said. “It has nothing to do with Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal — it’s Christian.”
Johnson added, “Jesus didn’t come to start a religion; He came to start a relationship with us.”
Still, Johnson felt that the community had responded strongly to the initiative for a reason.
“Christians are ready to stand up,” Johnson said. “Christians are hungry to see this done.”
And at a couple of the local businesses that Johnson routinely goes to in order to drop off crosses, the demand for the little white crosses would seem to confirm that.
At Nick’s Grocery in Port Arthur, one of Johnson’s drop-off points, Randee Davis, a cashier, recalled that there had been times where Johnson or others had to stop by twice in one day to replenish the crosses that had all been taken.
“They’ll be gone before the day ends,” Davis said. “Maybe in about five hours.”
Judy Cormier, store manager for Judice’s French Market & Deli, agreed.
“He [Johnson] drops them off, they’re gone the next day,” Cormier said. “People pick up two or three and give them to others.”
Making and donating the crosses might have become routine for Johnson, but that has not lessened the importance for him.
“People ask me, ‘Why are you so passionate about it? Why do you give out crosses?’” Johnson said. “It’s because God is real… He put it in my heart to give out these crosses.”
Johnson also wanted to make sure that those individuals who are not capable of picking up the little white crosses on their own from his business in Port Neches — such as the elderly or disabled — would still have the same access to the little white crosses as everyone else.
He asked that those individuals call Summer’s Abbey Flooring Center, give them their name, number and address, and he’ll find a volunteer to deliver the cross to them.