Kelly White didn’t wake up Friday morning thinking her faith would get a jumpstart, but that’s what happened when she pulled into the parking lot of Blue Springs Fitness around 6:45 a.m.
She looked across the highway and saw a solitary figure, dressed in a black cassock, bearing a 70-pound cross.
The man was pastor Brian Hetzel, whose Pointe of Hope Church, 1215 N.W. Missouri 7, is across the street from the fitness center.
White, who was the head of the children’s ministry at her former church, decided she had to get a photo.
“I am a Christian, but my faith has been tested,” she said. “And to me, Easter is what my faith and Christianity is all about. And I see this man, dressed in black, carrying a cross, and it made an impact on me that I will always remember.”
Later in the morning, church elder Nathan Swartz was bearing the cross when he was greeted by a woman with a surprising request – she asked if she could carry the cross.
“It was an amazing moment,” Swartz said. “And, as it turns out, we went to Blue Springs High School together. He name is Amanda Deoring, but she did not know it was me until she crossed the street.”
“When Brian thought about doing this, I knew it would make an impact, but I did not know it would make this type of impact.”
When Hetzel finished his trek with the cross, tears flowed down his face.
“A trucker went by and cranked up his horn, and it just touched me,” said Hetzel, who walked in silence and didn’t speak to any of the observers who took his photo or videoed his trek.
“I wanted them to concentrate on the meaning of the cross. That is why we’re here this morning.”
Hetzel said the story of carrying the cross does not receive much fanfare in the Bible.
“The episode is mentioned, without much detail, in all the gospels,” Hetzel said, “but only John specifically says Jesus carried his cross. The other three gospels mention Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross when Jesus was no longer able.”
He noted that Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 16:24 that “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
“Bottom line,” Hetzel said, “we hope that by carrying the cross we will affirm to practicing Christians as well as Christians who may have fallen out, or are looking for a church, of the important work Jesus did on Good Friday.
“It is the center of our faith. We also hope that our quiet procession might encourage those seeking to learn more about Jesus and what he’s done for them.”