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The last days of Christ

On a spring afternoon years ago, Donald Lynn stood feet away from the grown man, naked from the waist up, strapped to a wooden cross. Imitation blood and scars covered his body. Men dressed in Roman attire circled the man on the cross, a cat o’ nine tails cracked the air. The man’s head slumped toward the ground. A crown of thorns clung to his dark hair.

Lynn watched the scene unfold, his young son standing next to him.

“At that point the Holy Spirit got a hold of me,” Lynn said.

Lynn changed his life right there. He became saved by Jesus Christ, joined a church, and years later, Lynn took up that same cross upon his back. He hauled it down the middle of Broad Street toward a staged crucifixion. While he walked, Lynn felt pained, exhausted, ridiculed and overjoyed.

During his walk, two little girls stepped outside the United Methodist Children’s Home and spread rose petals in front of him.

“It was humbling,” he said.

Lee is one of 30-to-50 actors who have reenacted the last days of Christ’s life at Easter time for the last 17 years. The reenactment is a ministry started by Gateway Ministries Baptist Church, but many other churches in Selma — and even some from out of town — participate in the three-day event.

“We do it in hopes to show others the price Christ paid for us,” Lynn said.

The event begins at 7 p.m. today with a reenactment of The Last Supper and Judas’ betrayal of Jesus at Songs of Selma Park. At 2 p.m. Friday, actors reenact Jesus’ arrest and trial by Pilate in front of City Hall. Then, the actor portraying Jesus carries the cross to Valley Creek Park where the crucifixion is reenacted. Sunday, just as the sun rises over the Alabama River, Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is reenacted at Valley Creek Park.

Gateway Ministries Baptist Church pastor Robert Walker said this unique event is like a punch to the gut. People stop dead in their tracks,” he said.

“It just changes your life when you see it,” Walker said. “It’s putting the Gospel out in the streets.”

Rod Rochester, who will portray a Roman soldier and narrate parts of the reenactment, said the event reaches people who might not be sitting in a pew with a King James Bible on their laps every Sunday morning. There is a power in bringing to life those words written in red, he said.

“I saw a man come out of a bar with a beer in his hand,” Rochester said. “I literally watched him stand there, pour out his beer on the ground and fall to his knees. It’s touching.”

Walker said while the reenactment might not be as pleasant as candy-colored Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, the story of Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection just needs to be told, year in and year out.

“We do this to show another side of Easter,” Walker said. “Other than the bunny rabbits and egg hunts. This is about celebrating the resurrection of Christ.”