Famous Jesus Statue Struck by Lightning
They say it only takes a spark to get a fire going.
The famous "Touchdown Jesus' statue outside Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio was hit with a lot more than a spark, and some Christians are trying to understand why.
"This is not right," a church member by the name of Gifty told WDTN news after the Monday night fire that resulted in around $700,000 worth of damage to the statue and the church's nearby theater. "We just all have to go on our faith and ask God. This cannot be a coincidence."
"Something is not right that we have to pray about," she said.
The Dayton Daily News posted audio of an almost embarrassed 911 caller alerting authorities to the June 14 conflagration.
"I swear to God this is not a prank," he said to the dispatcher. "I just saw lighting strike it and it is on fire."
The statue's official name is the "King of Kings," but many use the nickname "Touchdown Jesus" because it depicts Christ raising both arms to the sky. The church installed it in 2004, with a steel frame covered in wood and Styrofoam and coated with fiberglass mat and resin. Church leaders have said they plan to rebuild.
"It sent goosebumps through my whole body because I am a believer," said Levi Walsh, 29, quoted in the Middletown Journal. "Of all the things that could have been struck, I just think that that would be protected. ... It's something that's not supposed to happen, Jesus burning," he said. "I had to see it with my own eyes."
"It meant so much to so many people," said church member Cassie Browning to the Dayton Daily News. "The statue can be destroyed and gone, but Jesus can't be."
"I'm thinking it's a sign from Jesus that we need to learn something, as Christians, as a whole, we're not doing something right," said church member Kevin Jones to WHIO.
Others have chimed in with their views. On the Internet, Lindsay Van Kirk of SportsGrid.com's "Power Grid" blog wryly suggests that the fall of Touchdown Jesus is a sign that recent controversies in the football world may have "made God a bit mad."
Mark Brumley, on Ingatius Press' "Insight Scoop" blog, thinks that the fire is a sign that lightning and fiberglass do not mix according to the laws of God's universe. But, he says, if the fire sparks self-examination among Christians who see the charred remains, maybe that was part of God's plan.
"Since most of us usually have something to repent of or to repent more deeply of," he wrote, "the destruction of the statue certainly can be taken as a providential reminder to turn away from sin."