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Star Ledger, Sunday, April 8, 2001 -- Accent Section

The way of the cross

Next Sunday, millions of Christians all over the world will celebrate Easter, the day that commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The week leading up to Easter, Passion Week, represents the events of Christ's last days on Earth, including his crucifixion on Good Friday. Many churches -- Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Baptist, Methodist -- will hold services this week re-enacting the passion of Jesus Christ, and a select few will be given the opportunity and the privilege to play the part of the Christ. For most of these men (and a few boys), it is the biggest and most important role of their lives. We'd like to introduce you to nine New Jerseyans who, this week, will be re-creating the life and death of Jesus Christ for their own churches.

Bob McGovern:

For 12 years, Bob McGovern, whose hometown is North Port, Fla., has been traveling up to Hasbrouck Heights to play the lead for the Bible Baptist Church's Passion Play Ministries. Though he is now 46, married with three children and a full-time Bible student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., McGovern can't foresee a time when he won't make the trip.

"It is a ministry and until God closes the doors, I will continue to do it," McGovern says. "It is a great outreach for people to see what the Gospel really is . . . People remember what they see."

It is also, he says, an extraordinary experience to play the part of Jesus.

"When I am up on the Cross, you're are very much aware of the sin. That in my own life that I realize what He died for. . . . Then I personally think, how would I ever give up my own son? And He has given His for us, who treat Him really like dirt. These are the things, really, you think about . . . and it is an honor because there are only a select few people who get to do something like this . . . I really do believe it is orchestrated by God. It is not my doing, to take credit for it would be wrong. The whole thing is a ministry. I don't look at as anything else but a ministry. If I was, then I would be doing it for self-gain. That doesn't work."

As for the effect of the play, called "The Jesus Story," on a modern-day audience, McGovern is a realist: "Some people get strictly entertainment . . . (but) we get comments that people now understand what the Gospel is."


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