Deacon Keith “Brain” unlocked the door to our storefront Mission, walked inside, and found the seven-foot cross missing from the sanctuary! That is how it all started last year, Good Friday, 2005. Because of miscommunication on my part as the pastor, the church did not expect me to “take the cross for a walk” as some later put it. I had decided to carry the cross through our community to raise awareness that the original purpose of Easter is to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Several church members and friends accompanied me on a second cross walk the following Saturday that year. I had hoped that a new tradition had been born at our church.
This year we again carried the cross on Good Friday. Our group included my fiancée, Stacy; her mother, Linda; Brain; and myself, Pastor Doug “Shoe”. The response to our message was even more intense than last year. Some was positive and some was negative. I was encouraged that the Holy Spirit had allowed us to bring Jesus Christ to the streets of Berwick, Maine and Somersworth and Dover, New Hampshire. Jesus was more than a prophet and more than a good man. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the only Savior. Each person must decide how to deal with Jesus. If we bring people the real Jesus, there is no sitting on the fence!
Yes, there were a few cases of terrible blasphemy which I won’t repeat. It is my prayer that in such intense darkness, the light of Christ will shine in sharp relief. Multitudes like this are being saved from rock bottom. I won’t be discouraged by blasphemers because it is they who most need to be reached by the Gospel.
And a few people hurled insults at me personally. That is ok, because Jesus taught that we are blessed to suffer for His name. My suffering is light because Christians in other countries are being imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith.
But I have to say that the most common response was positive. Many beeped their car horns; and I would often see a Christian sticker on the car. I saw many a “thumbs up.” Young men were shouting “Jesus Rules!” from passing cars.
One woman stopped her vehicle, walked to me, and said, “thank you” while holding back tears. I don’t know her story and sensed that is was private. How many people of the thousands driving by were asking God if He was really there, and if He really cared for them? How many people had lost their way and desperately wanted to come home?
I met a woman and her little girl who was just old enough to walk on her own. The mother seemed shy, but the girl asked cheerfully “Mom, who’s that?” She answered her own question by saying “It’s a church!”
A Christian sister bought us lunch because she liked our message. I found the simple gesture very encouraging.
We started the walk carrying the cross from our Mission on Main Street in Somersworth, NH. We walked to Town Hall in Berwick, Maine which is a short walk. We walked to Town Hall in Somersworth, NH, and stopped briefly in front of the Ten Commandments monument on public property. Then we continued down High Street to Weeks Crossing (formerly Weeks Traffic Circle). It was at the crossing that we split up and I walked back to the Mission alone.
Turning my back to the sun, I could see the shadow of myself carrying the cross. In my heart I saw Jesus carrying His cross for me and the whole world on a similar day so many years ago. I knew that Jesus’ message was reaching people in a powerful way. It was reaching me and tears fell into the sand and onto my dry dusty boots. I don’t think I have ever been so deep in prayer while walking.
Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
It is interesting that Jesus’ yoke sets us free. So many shun the Bible because they see it as a giant rulebook that will cramp their style. Nothing could be further from the truth. God who designed our bodies and breathed in our spirit knows what kind of life will set us free.
I’m not carrying a burden. I certainly can’t carry your burden. How can I save you if I can’t save myself? Jesus carried the burden that no one else could bear- the sins of the whole world. I have faith in Him and now I’m free.
In the world there are so many bound in chains of addictions, or habits, or a way of life they don’t like but can’t change. Jesus is the answer. Having found so loving a Savior, how can I be silent?