DESOTO — Windsor Park Baptist Church saw more than 20 people make professions of faith in Jesus Christ through its outdoor dramatization of Passion Week.
Jerusalem Marketplace began four years ago at the prompting of the church’s children’s director. In the days leading to Easter, the marketplace was bustling with about 20 vendors plying their wares, such as the moneychanger, the cloth merchant and the animal tender. Also included were the upper room, the jail and the synagogue.
While 168 members of the church played costumed roles, people who came to see the production also were given the opportunity to don the garb of biblical times. The church had 99 children’s robes available to those who came to watch so that they also could participate in the living drama that played out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Pastor Chris Seidlitz for the first three years played the role of Annas but this year portrayed Caiaphas.
“I love it. It’s so much fun,” he said. “The children are so fun. The other night, one of them looked at me and asked, ‘Don’t you love Jesus?’ because they know me as pastor, but here I am shouting, ‘Crucify him!’
He recalled another child who saw the woman playing the role of Mary weeping. The child began yelling at the Roman guards, “Let her son go.”
“It becomes so real for them. They are in the concrete stage, and it’s really a great visual representation,” he said.
The drama has several vignettes such as Jesus’ triumphal entry, the Last Supper, the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’s arrest, his trials before the high priests and the Roman rulers, and finally his crucifixion. Assistant Pastor Steve Armstrong played the role of Jesus.
In between the larger vignettes, church members continually role-played life in Jerusalem, many of them engaged in conversation about who Jesus really was — lunatic, troublemaker, prophet or Son of God. They willingly engaged those who came to watch in their conversations.
After the resurrection scene, Seidlitz presented an opportunity to respond to the gospel presentation.
This year, at least 21 people made professions of faith in Christ. There probably were more, Seidlitz said, but the crowd was so large Friday night that some who raised their hands indicating a spiritual decision were unable to be reached with materials to document it. Saturday night, weather forced the production to be stopped midway.
Decisions also were made during Sunday morning’s worship service that may have stemmed from the production, he said. “Now we get to start on the follow-up,” Seidlitz said.
Previous productions not only added to the church rolls, but also to the cast, as people who made professions of faith during the performances now are putting it on for the benefit of others.
The three nights of the drama make a good lead-in to Easter, Seidlitz said.
“By the time Sunday rolls around, they are exhausted, but they are also so excited. There’s just an anticipation of what’s going to happen on Sunday morning. It’s exciting around here,” he said.
George Henson is the staff writer for Texas Baptist Standard.