From: T.M. Schoewe
We have moved into the wonderful season of ADVENT, if you are a church attendee. This is the season with the theme of “COMING,” which is what the Latin word “advent” means. Advent is about CRISTO REDENTOR, Whose COMING the Lord promised and Whose COMING meant being born into a sinful world. This Christ came and lived among us and took our place on the cross to die and rise again for us and be our REDENTOR, The Redeemer, Who brought us forgiveness and got us back into the kingdom of God, so long as we believe it is so!
One of my assignments while serving this country in the Air Force was in the Panama Canal Zone circa 1960-1963, where we were part of a team that visited our military missions in South and Central America. There are many wonderful cities in South America like Bogata, Colombia, and Lima, Peru, and Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires in Argentina. One of the largest ones I ever had the privilege of visiting was Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is this city we particularly remember because looking over it and its great beaches and harbor from on high there on Mount Corcovado is a statue of that very Redeemer. From atop that granite peak whose name means “Hunchback” in Portuguese, this 125-foot likeness of Jesus titled “Cristo Redentor” or “Christ the Redeemer” that stands at an elevation of about 2,300 feet can be seen on a clear day from great distances. It is a grand invitation to come to Him Who saved the world from death, sin and hell.
This peak is in the Tijuca Forest, which is a national park where nearby there so happens to be a mountain called “Sugar Loaf!” And you, to,o can visit Corcovada and Cristo Redentor if you make it to Rio. You only have to walk a couple of miles or so up to the top or take the train that winds its way up to the summit. Over the years, several famous people, including a couple of Popes, Albert Einstein and Princess Diana, along with about 300,000 others every year, have paid a visit.
And now here is a new surprise that stands tall to make known the same proclamation about Christ’s coming in its quiet yet remarkable way. Did you know in the midst of the terrible civil war that is going on in Syria that a 105-foot tall statue of Jesus, erected just over a month ago, now stands on Mount Sednaya looking over the very area where people traveled years ago between Jerusalem and Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey)? This area used to be a major pilgrimage route connecting those two great cities. And as you might rightly guess, this undertaking was inspired by the Cristo Redentor that overlooks Rio de Janeiro. This particular project has taken over 8 years to complete and was backed by the London-based St. Paul and St. George Foundation, with the support of the Russian Orthodox Church. The statue was designed to encourage Syrian Christians. Christians in that region of Syria comprise about 10% of the population and are subject to great persecution and opposition. They are no doubt inspired by this statue amidst the troubles they face in the very same part of the world that their Christian faith had its first roots. They believe the second Coming of Christ will take place on this mountain.
So, say an Advent prayer that the rebels do not destroy that statue and that it remains to give comfort to all Christians who pass by in Syria. Should the rebels succeed in Syria, Christianity will be banned from the first place where Christians were called Christians. Advent requires your prayers.