In part two of our Easter blog we hear from Tearfund employees around the world about how they celebrate this special time of year. The results are enlightening.
Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, Theological Education Network Coordinator, Tearfund Philippines, South-East Asia: ‘My favourite part of Easter is the first streak of light at dawn. What a way for God to visually remind the world of hope after darkness.
‘Easter is one of four colourful seasons we have in the Philippines (the others being Christmas, All Saints’ Day, and the election season). For me, Easter is the season that reminds me of the hope I have in Christ – that his resurrection brings hope that things so often resistant to change in my country are actually on their way to being renewed. People who are in advocacy work, like me, hold this as a much needed encouragement and reminder.
‘It has been a tradition in my church to celebrate Easter by gathering together before dawn at a nearby river. We sing, listen to scripture, share a hot meal together – ‘arroz caldo’ is a local porridge dish featuring chicken wings and rice in chicken broth with onion, ginger, and garlic. We share the joy of people who are to be baptised; baptism during Easter is a special one. A lot of our folks prefer it so they can rise with Christ to a new life.
‘I don’t exactly know why the elders of our church chose to cap Easter with everybody enjoying a swim at the river. But for me, the imagery of free-flowing water signifies the liberation that shall one day flow mightily upon the earth – for all creation, trees, fish, and rivers.’
Nick Wyke, Tearfund Learn editor, UK: ‘Easter is a really special time of year for Christians. The highlights for me are many and are centred around our church in Battersea, South West London. The Good Friday reflective service is always a creative experience – a physical journey between sites – where we find space to meditate on Christ’s death.
‘Easter Sunday starts early at our church... very early. The pastor hosts a small sunrise service by the River Thames much to the surprise of any early morning joggers. An Easter candle is lit at the first signs of dawn to emphasise the power of the light of Christ.
‘Then later at church the shared exclamation of ‘Christ is risen… He is risen indeed. Alleluia.’ is always uplifting, as is the much needed coffee and post-Lent chocolate after the service. As a bonus, the schools are closed over Easter and many families leave London. Spring is well and truly in the air and it’s a lovely time to visit the city.’
Jennipher Sakala, Southern and East Africa Cluster Lead, Zambia: ‘Easter is a time for deep reflection on Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection, the basis of my faith and new life in Christ. I celebrate it in worship and prayer, attending Easter services and sharing a meal with family and friends.’
Earnest Maswera, Country Director, Tearfund Zimbabwe: ‘I associate Easter with calmness and deep reflection. But also liberty from bondage and life-giving experience from the finished work that Jesus did on Calvary. It’s a time to connect with friends. I read the Easter story of Jesus from the Bible. I celebrate him through church services and I share and break bread with my family.’
Samir Silas, Finance Coordinator, Tearfund Pakistan: ‘Whenever I think about Easter, the first thing that comes to mind is the joy of waking up in the middle of the night and going to church for the sunrise Easter service. I remember being so excited about it when I was a kid. I would keep tossing and turning in bed until the moment I needed to wake up.
‘Easter is not celebrated as vigorously as Christmas but it has its own excitement. The night before we would buy candles for the whole family. We usually dress up in white shalwar qameez – a traditional outfit of headscarf, long shirt and baggy trousers – for the candlelit procession. After that we’re all sleepy until the breakfast is served after the church service.
‘We celebrate Easter like a festival – taking blessings to elderly people, wearing new dresses, cooking good food and visiting Christian neighbours.’
Isaac Rana Bonik
‘The sunrise service is always led by the women’s fellowship of the church. When I was younger, I used to plan a cricket match in the church compound with the youth group. We would play until the Easter Sunday service then I would literally fall asleep on the last bench. My parents were really strict on attending all the services.
‘I always wonder why Easter is not celebrated as enthusiastically as Christmas. I believe Christmas happened for Easter. We exist and are living because Jesus died for our sins and conquered death. In fact, I believe we can celebrate Easter every time we realise we have done something wrong and we need forgiveness.’
Isaac Rana Bonik, Grants and Information Manager, Tearfund Bangladesh: ‘Easter means remembering God’s love for all creation once again. We celebrate it with our families starting with interdenominational prayer at 6am. Last year 800 people gathered locally to celebrate. This practice started in Dhaka more than 30 years ago. It now happens in different parts of the country where there are big Christian communities and different churches. We share the resurrection and Easter with the neighbouring non-believers.
‘After the ceremony we attend our regular church services at 9am. Then join in the fellowship lunch at the church where our family members join us. The day is like another Christmas to Christians here. We celebrate it like a festival – taking blessings to elderly people, wearing new dresses, cooking good food and pies and visiting Christian neighbours.’
Tabita Shamshad, Programme Assistant, Tearfund Pakistan: ‘Easter means emphatic victory for me; Jesus’ victory over sin and death. After every victory, there is a new beginning, everything changes. We can observe new life around us in nature. It’s spring and the leaves are returning and flowers blooming. In the same way, we should leave our old humanity behind and become a new person, a Christ-like person.
‘After attending the sunrise and Easter services, I prepare a fresh family meal with my sisters. Christmas, Easter, weddings and, sadly, funerals are the few occasions where relatives still meet and reconnect, otherwise everyone remains busy with their hectic lives.
‘I love the sunrise service because it was dawn when the women first went to Jesus’ tomb and found the rock rolled away at the entrance. It is here that they meet the angel and receive the message of Jesus’ resurrection.
‘There is an even earlier procession at 4am when the church congregation sings songs of victory and joy through local streets. We usually find another church procession and people meet and greet each other warmly. When we reach the church there is a brief sermon on Easter followed by a traditional communal breakfast of Halwa Puri Channay
(dense semolina and chickpea curry served with deep fried unleavened bread). We then go home to get ready for the Easter service at 10am.’
Justin Nyamoga, Country Director, Tearfund Tanzania:
‘Easter to me means freedom because of Jesus’ sacrifice, his victory over sin and his resurrection from the dead. I no longer have any debts. I am no longer a slave. The Easter season symbolises hope and rejuvenation, and it also magnifies the resilience of the human spirit.
‘It’s humankind’s call to renew its strength (Isaiah 40:28-31); to celebrate freedom from physical, emotional, and spiritual slavery (Galatians 5:1; Hebrews 12:12-15); to reaffirm a personal connection to God’s amazing universe and power (Ephesians 1:17-20).
‘I go to church and spend time with family. The Sunday service makes me reflect on the reason why I am a Christian. I also dedicate time to church activities especially supporting orphans and vulnerable people connected to our church.’