A growing group of local volunteers is spreading the good news of Jesus’ resurrection by first telling of his death on the cross.
Friday will mark the seventh year that “Thank God for Good Friday,” a crucifixion re-enactment, will be conducted for the public. It will begin at 6 p.m. at the Thomasville Exchange Club Fairgrounds with Bryan Watt and Dana King prepping the guests for the main event. At 6:30 p.m., the reenactment will start.
In 2008, the late Marvin Livingston had a dream to show people why Easter is celebrated. He teamed up with members of his Sunday school class and community members to create a live portrayal of the crucifixion and the events leading up to the cross.
His dream still lives thanks to friends and community members such as John Doane, who is the publicity person for the event.
When Livingston passed away a couple of years ago, Doane was asked to keep the tradition going.
“I knew I had some big shoes to fill,” said Doane.
Livingston made big plans to make “Thank God for Good Friday” one of the most talked about re-enactments around.
Doane said, “When the event first got started, Marvin went to Florida to have crosses made. He also looked at a chariot to use that was in Cairo. He also over-nighted wheels from an Amish community to place on the chariot to make it as authentic as possible.”
The group also built a tall platform for Pilate to stand on and judge Jesus.
A tradition within the event is Jeff Willis singing “Rise Again” at the conclusion.
“Marvin was a good friend of mine and when he approached me about singing, I thought of the song ‘Rise Again.’ As I sang it, there were tears in his eyes and he told me that that was the song,” Willis remembered.
Today, tears can still be seen in the eyes of many who witness the re-enactment and hear Willis sing.
The singer believes that young people get the most out of the song.
He said, “Young people come up to me the most and ask for me to sing the song. It’s a real blessing.”
To Willis and Doane, John 3:16 is the meaning of Easter:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Willis added, “The Easter season means everything to me. It’s when Jesus died for us and rose again. We celebrate the resurrection, but don’t always focus on his death and Good Friday. This time of year, it also means a lot for family to get together and we celebrate the true meaning of Easter.”
Good Friday is observed today, the Friday before Easter Sunday, and is a commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The “Thank God for Good Friday” volunteers are reaching out to the community today, regardless of whether or not they go to church, what church they attend or denomination.
Doane said, “We are wanting people to know what Jesus did.”
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.