Bringing home the message of the cross

The chapel filled with sounds of chopping wood as Joe White, CEO of Kanakuk Kamps, came on stage and began to share the thoughts of a Roman soldier who was building the cross for Jesus’ crucifixion.

As White continued his monologue, the man beside him ceased to chop and slowly began to form a cross out of logs. This idea of building a cross on stage stemmed from White’s experience of working with Young Life.

The cross came from “creating interesting ways to keep kids awake,” White explained. It has worked so well for White that he continues to use the demonstration in many of his presentations.

White talked about his own spiritual journey and how when he looked at the cross, he asked himself “is it man or God who hangs on this tree?” After becoming a father of four children, White looked up at the cross and saw God as a father, a father who is so crazy about his children that he would suffer and die for them.

The idea of God as a father led White’s message and clung to each story he shared about people finding God in their brokenness.

Senior Morgan Honnold said the chapel service overwhelmed with her with its heavy use of sights, sounds, and stories, but she felt the speaker’s enthusiasm.

“I appreciated Joe White’s heart passion and message,” she said.

Graduate student West Loveland described the chapel service in one word: “powerful.”

He explained that the idea of the father/son relationship between people and God stuck out to him.

“The most powerful part … was the video of the dad and son. That is so similar to what God calls us to do,” he said.

Loveland referred to a video where a father, Dick Hoyt competed in an Ironman Triathlon with his disabled son, Rick. The video shows their journey through the different phases of the competition and how the father has to pull or push his son, who has Cerebral Palsy, the entire way. Without his father, the boy would go nowhere.

White reminded students of how God does that for us. “That is a picture of God behind that wheelchair,” he said.

Loveland added that we are also to “serve God as the father served his son in the video.”

Using a pair of shackles as a visual aid, White urged students to become bondservants of Christ. He said that historically a bondservant was a slave who, when offered freedom by his master, chose instead to remain a slave because of his love for the master.

To end the service, White asked the students to write down on a piece of paper what was holding them back from God their father. Then they were to take that paper up to the stage where other students would nail it to the cross that was built on stage earlier. He also scattered chain links across the Cathedral steps and the area around the altar for students to take as a reminder.

“[God] just wants one guy whose heart can be completely his,” White concluded.