Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 19, 2014

Youth of East River Church continue Crosswalk tradition

BLUEFIELD, Va. — The youth of East River Church took their message to the streets Saturday morning by participating in Crosswalk, a youth activity that serves as both a “via dolorosa,” to bring attention to the meaning of Easter as well as a fundraiser for missionary communications aids and transportation.

“The youth in all of the churches of our region participate in Crosswalk,” The Reverend Jimmy Watson, pastor of Tazewell Assembly of God said. “There are literally hundreds of kids through most of West Virginia and southwestern Virginia participating in a Crosswalk. It’s how a lot of missionaries are able to travel.”

A group of about 20 youth left the church shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday morning for a walk that lasted almost five hours. Along with supporting the youth, Rev. Watson was there to watch his 17-year-old daughter Hannah in the walk as well as his 15-year-old son, Jason, participating even though he was in a wheelchair, due to a sports injury.

“I feel like even though I’m injured, I can still walk even though I can’t walk,” Jason Watson said. “Does that make sense?”

“We’re all out here today remembering that Jesus died on the cross for us,” Hannah Watson said. “It’s not everyday that something like that happens. That’s what we are remembering.”

“It just gives us an opportunity to open up a discussion with people about what Christ means to us,” Nicholas DiMarzo, 13, of Bluefield, said. “It gives us a chance to share our thoughts with people who may not know Jesus yet.” Nicholas and his friend, Gabe Sesco, also 13, from Bluefield, Va., were the first two members of the youth group to carry the cross on the walk.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to do this and think of Jesus,” Sesco said. “You can do this and show your community a little thing about Jesus.”

“This will be our third time with Crosswalk,” Sarah Dickens said. Dickens is youth pastor of East River Church. Dickens said that in addition to spreading the message that Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the youth of the church will be raising funds for “Speed the Light,” a youth ministry organization that provides funds to assist missionaries with essential transportation and creative communication to help them in their missionary evangelism.

“Speed the Light helps missionaries get to where they need to go and also, provides them with materials,” she said. “These kids are just great.”

This was the first time that Candace Sawyers, 14, of Tazewell, Va., had participated in Crosswalk. She said that the experience had special meaning for her.

“I think it’s important to remember Jesus and to remember that he died on the cross for me,” Sawyers said.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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