We build monuments. Around the world, from the most advanced societies to the cultures recessed in the deeps of the rainforests, people build symbols of community. As complex as a gateway Arch that rises to greet you driving across the great Mississippi and as simple as stacked rocks, we build monuments. Through the work of our hands we seek to express the currents of our souls. As Norman Foster has said, “Architecture is an expression of values.”
And so I found myself once again on the island of Goree, one of the major hubs of the transatlantic slave trade, with a group of men and women from Cornerstone Assembly of God. They had crossed the same ocean to come and share a week with us reaching the unreached Wolof speaking people of Senegal. We stood together staring at the brick and mortar, the colonial monuments of human oppression, where countless lives were fractured and broken for untold generations. Although the island no longer ferries people from freedom to slavery, the buildings still stand, the monuments of humanities devastating capacity still lingers.
But in the midst of the weeping, the deep and painful sorrow, the stark difference shown through like a piercing lightning bolt through the stormy night. This group, this group of men and women, black, white, European, Caribbean, African, crossed the Atlantic not to take men captive but to set them free. They came flying through the night, not to bind men and rip them from their homes, but to stand in the light of day and proclaim the love of Jesus the Messiah. Day after day, we poured our love with every paint stroke restoring a community school, every word spilled from our cups running over, every smile offered to a child and returned.
We build monuments. Not houses of slavery but homes of freedom. We build altars. Not of brick and mortar but of lives transformed. Our architecture, built of men, women and children on the foundation of our redeemer Jesus Christ is the truest expression of value. We are not calling them with the doomed words of the builders of Babel (Gen. 11.3), but to recognize that the stone the builders rejected has now become the chief cornerstone which is Jesus Christ (Ps. 118.22)! Every religious leader whom we spoke with between the muddy furrows of our neighborhood, every youth that heard the good news of a Savior in Guediawaye, every child who memorized the sweet words of John 3.16… monuments.
Truly, because of this team, each short little child that has begun to make a lifelong decision for Christ now stands like a monument to Love, like a little four foot foundation of Jesus in their family.