INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY WANTS TO MAKE JESUS KNOWN

Giant Cross Monument on Memory Mountain erected in remote Northern Territory community in outback Australia

Renowned Christian landscape photographer Ken Duncan financed the project

After more than a decade, a vision to build a giant cross in a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia has become a reality.

Key points:

  • The 20m cross near Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji) was proposed in 2009
  • Landscape photographer Ken Duncan has led the project, raising several million dollars through private donations
  • Community members hope the site will be a meeting place for locals and create economic opportunities through tourism

First proposed in 2009 by residents of Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji), 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs, the 20-metre-high, multi-million-dollar steel monument was last month erected atop Memory Mountain.

Local elder Douglas Multa

Local elder Douglas Multa said the vision first came to his uncle, Nebo Jugadai, one night at an Easter celebration at the base of the mountain — a site of historical and cultural significance for Haasts Bluff and surrounding communities.

Mr. Multa said he felt emotional seeing the structure completed. “When I first saw it we had tears in our eyes, we cried because it’s in our land — our country,” he said.

“It makes me and my people proud to have something like this in our country.” He hoped the project would help create a prosperous future for the community through tourism. “It’s important because we have been struggling for many years to get job opportunities for the young people, so that cross is going to bring lots of jobs,” he said.

The final element of the monument is expected to be completed by the end of the year when solar-powered LED lights will be installed to illuminate the cross.

Mr Duncan said a company — Memory Mountain Limited — had been established to support the development of the project, with a board made up of Indigenous people living in the surrounding communities, as well as Mr Duncan and his wife, Pam.

REINTRODUCING AMERICANS TO JESUS

A group of private investors has launched a massive multi-million dollar ad campaign to reintroduce Americans to Jesus.

“He Gets Us” will reach people via TV, radio, digital ads, billboards, and experiential platforms. With a $100 million budget, it’s expected to start conversations among a wide array of people.

“Our focus is getting Jesus into the places where people are consuming a lot of media right now,” said Jason Vanderground, president of the marketing firm Haven, and one of the creators of the campaign.

“He Gets Us” follows nationwide research last year showing many adults in the U.S. aren’t sure what they believe and that many have negative views of Christianity.

Haven founder Bill McKendry says the campaign is targeting that audience. “‘He Gets Us’ is disrupting misconceptions by pointing out how Jesus identified with the marginalized, how He didn’t favor the powerful, how He often offended the religious by associating with social outcasts,” he said.

Dr. Ed Stetzer, the executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, says the research also shows that many people have a positive view of Jesus himself. “The hope of the ‘He Gets Us’ campaign is they might actually dig a little deeper,” he said.

The campaign’s ads focus on current issues like anxiety and crisis pregnancies.

“We looked at Jesus’ life and we looked at what the American public is going through right now and just said, ‘What are the things that are most relevant to people?‘” Vanderground explained.

In addition to the ads, the campaign also provides opportunities for people to chat, text and read passages of Scripture in an organized reading plan.

“The main goal is just to increase the respect and the personal relevancy of Jesus,” said Vanderground.

Stetzer says the campaign’s wide reach could lead to large numbers of people both seeing its ads and responding.

“We want to encourage people in this moment, a time of confusion and division,” said Stetzer. “Maybe this is an opportunity–not to vent everything we have an opinion about on social media–but to talk to our friends and neighbors about Jesus, who’ve seen these ads.”

The campaign is set to run through the end of 2022. It has to be good that Christian businessmen who do not want to be known are prepared to invest so much money in making Jesus known to people in a way that is relevant to them and who would not get to know Him any other way.