Joining together in unity to share the message of Jesus Christ, members of local and area FCA groups are walking through every county in the State of Mississippi carrying a lighted cross.
The light shone through Chickasaw County Sept. 26 as members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from Houston, Houlka and Okolona passed the cross from hand-to-hand along its journey.
FCA district directors, Mark and Crissy Boren, accompanied the students as they carried the cross and explained the significance of the effort.
"Mission Mississippi is in its 20th year," said Boren of the grass-roots organization that seeks to break down racial barriers through the messages of the Bible. "We're using the high school FCA groups to be the legs. We wanted our youth to be the ones to break down the denominational and racial barriers.
In a county that contains three separate school districs, all athletic rivals, the students said joining together for a common goal was not as unusual as might be expected.
"Who knows, I might be passing the cross off to my cousin today," said Jaylan Walker of Okolona High School.
And as the Houlka school bus came into view, his prediction was correct.
"Look, there goes my cousin right there," Walker said of Houlka student and FCA member, Tyreque Reed.
Crissy Boren said the act of sharing the love of Christ is designed to bring people of all races and religious denominations closer together.
"It causes unison and unity and we need it," Boren said.
Okolona's Amber Buchanan believes it's working.
"It brings us together as Christians and classmates," Buchanan said. "We hope to be the leaders to the younger generations."
The cross moved into Chickasaw County Sept. 25 as students from Shannon High School passed it to FCA members from Okolona High School. The next morning, the Okolona youth passed it to students from Houlka who took it to Gibson Junction and handed it to the Houston FCA who took it into Clay County.
The next day, the cross made its way into Webster County, carried by students from Hebron Christian School and East Webster High School.
"I think that it is very important that all FCA members meet with each other to share the word of God," said Lane Callahan of Houston. "It was a wonderful experience and I would do it again any day. Carrying that cross symbolized, to me, Jesus carrying his own cross up that mountain to be crucified."
Asia Vance also made the connection between the FCA journey and the final journey of Christ.
"Because God carried the cross (for us), I think we should," said Asia Vance of Houlka.
The journey of the cross began Aug. 7 in Jackson and will culminate Oct. 27 at Memorial Stadium in Clinton, having traveled through every county in the state. Crissy Boren prayed the experience would have a lasting effect on the youth of the county.
"If they did this, they walked it and they can talk it," Boren said. "They can show you, Lord."
Justin Ward of Okolona agreed.
"I felt honored to be able to participate in carrying the cross," Ward said. "By carrying the cross, we are spreading the message of 'gracism' over racism."