By Rory O’Sullivan, Voice Staff Writer
“Today we’re celebrating the supernatural resurrection of Jesus Christ, hallelujah! How can you not get excited about that.”
“If you’re not excited you’re dead!”
And with that Brenda Wood pastor of Word of Life Ministries International in Riverside kicked off Mount Rubidoux’s 106th Easter Sunday, celebrating what Christians believe signifies the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, 2,000 years ago. They believe Jesus rolled away the stone in the tomb where his body was being kept and ascended back into Heaven after three days.
Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year.
The Bible says that by dying, Jesus atoned for the sins of human beings.
“I am there because I love people,” said Wood. “I hope people walk away with a greater commitment to God, and that they allow the Holy Spirit to change their lives and give them direction.”
Regina Edwards a single mother, who attended with her daughter Elena, was one of the 2,500 to 3,000 people who braved the cold and steep mountain climb, looking for direction. Evangelical, Catholic, Baptist and Disciples of Christ, poured out a message of hope and love to those in attendance.
“Just going through life when you’re young,” said Edwards. “It’s been a journey, it was hard, you know”.
She wants to spend this year being more involved. Scott Lambert a minister with First Christian Church youth group brought several youth to help out with the event, including Jake Drake, a senior at Ramona High School.
He said he needed his faith the most when his grandmother, who he lived with half his life, passed away three years ago.
“She got diagnosed with cancer, it was tough,” said Drake. “There was pretty much nothing we could do.” “Seeing her in hospice unable to talk with bed sores all over her body, she was just waiting to die pretty much.”
Drake said Lambert helped him out through that time and showed him the love of Jesus. “You have to have faith, faith really comes in play in times like that,” said Drake.
“It’s pretty moving when you put time into young people’s lives and find your faith together,” said Lambert. “To be able to help a young man through a time like that, it makes you feel good inside.”
Lambert said he tries as much as he can to give young people a place they can share their faith freely without judgement or condemnation.
“It’s such a blessing to my wife.”
Drake was able to share his experiences with his grandmother, with a member of his baseball team who lost his dad.
“I was able to be there for him,” said Drake.
Lambert said Christianity is all about helping those around you get through the rough patches in life. He said events like this, fellowshipping with other Christians helps you to feel connected.
The crowd on Sunday listened to the sermons intently and as the sun broke through the darkness were greeted with hymns from Teen Challenge, singing “Christ the Lord is risen today,” together as one.
Shelby Page, 23, from Dallas, Texas, who leads the Teen Challenge Choir said he has seen the power of Jesus work in his life.
“I should have been dead,” said Page .
Page was addicted to heroin and spent years using the drug. He ended up becoming homeless, lying, and began stealing to feed his habit.
“I wanted to experience real change.”
So he “humbled himself, let go of his pride” and came to Teen Challenge Riverside from Dallas, he said.
“God was the only one who could fix me.”
Page has been clean for a year and credits God for the change. He now spends his time trying to help people any way he can and wants to become a counselor with Teen Challenge in the future.
“You want to help someone else as much as you can and show people the love of Jesus,” said Page. “That’s what he died for, so we can all walk in peace and love.”
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