Brazil resident Les Rivera performs the role of a lifetime, acting out Christ's betrayal, trial, beating/flogging, crucifixion and triumph over the grave on Easter morning.
"The performance starts with the Last Supper and goes through all the major events that happened to Christ leading up to Easter morning," Rivera said about the unique play that encourages the audience to participate in the performance. "It's a very emotional experience to watch and feel like you're a part of a man -- our Savior -- being beaten bloody and then crucified by guards. It becomes a very personal experience for the audience."
Rivera said the play is graphic in nature due to the fact the beatings of Jesus Christ are not faked during the performance.
"Families with small children need to be prepared for what they will see," Rivera said.
For the man who endures only a brief moment of what Christ experienced at the hands of the Romans, Rivera said he is humbled with each whip of the lash during the nightly performances, which are at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., starting Thursday and ending Sunday.
"My past is nowhere close to spotless. But my faith, and this experience, has taught me that God heals all," Rivera said. "That no one is worth giving up on. Each time I get hit, it hurts, but it reminds me that He paid for it all. And if we choose to follow Christ, our old life isn't what defines us, but it's how we live for Him today that does."
Sponsored by Senior Education Ministries, along with volunteers from several churches, Imagine That, Covenant Cooperative Ministries, and Kings Servants Chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association work together to perform 12 interactive, non-denominational re-enactments that begin with the Last Supper and end with Christ's last message before ascending into heaven.
Several members of Rivera's family also participate in the emotional re-enactments. Rivera's younger brother, Mathew, portrays Judas and a guard, his mother, Betty, performs the part of Christ's mother and Rivera's daughter, Destinee, will perform as a member of the cast during the performances.
"This experience has helped bring our family closer together," Rivera said. "It's given us all a new perspective of the events that really took place. We enjoy doing this play together, glorifying God as a family, and reaching out to the community."
This is the third year for the free event, but things are a little different this time around.
"We're actually inviting everyone to join the cast and crew of the play for Easter morning service here at Family Worship Center," Rivera said, adding that he has the privilege of being able to preach during the Easter Morning Service. "This is the biggest blessing in my life, to be able to portray Christ and preach both on Easter Sunday."
Service time at the Family Worship Center, 8157 North County Road 425 West, just off
United States 40 at the Staunton flashers, is 10:30 a.m.