First Mennonite Church, Iowa City, Iowa
Since 2013, seven churches in eastern Iowa have joined together on Good Friday evening for a Service of Darkness commemorating Jesus’ death on a cross. The pastors of Kalona, East Union, Wellman, West Union, Torre Fuerte, First, and Lower Deer Creek Mennonite Churches have provided leadership for planning the event. Held at Iowa Mennonite School’s Celebration Hall, the service has drawn hundreds of people from the participating churches and the community.
The service features testimonies of high school students from the 7 churches. Each student reflects on one of Christ’s seven last words spoken from the cross, and connects Christ’s words with their own life journey. Over the years, these testimonies have been heartfelt and profound!
Musicians from the seven participating congregations lead the congregation in song, and an offering is collected for a need identified by the churches.
The following is a testimony given at the Community Good Friday Service in 2018.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
by Brandon Jimenez
Wellman Mennonite Church, Wellman, Iowa
They do not know what they’re doing.
Christ. Unfairly judged. Crucified.
They don’t know what they’re doing.
I am they…
Who am I?
Who is Ignacio Brandon Jimenez Ascencio?
What am I doing?
I don’t know. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I’m
What do you want me to say?
I’m a middle class 17 year old brown boy from an
Life has never been easy. It isn’t easy, and it’ll never be easy.
And I know you knew that. I know you knew under this
façade there was hurt.
I know you understand.
But your words are lies.
Or are they mine?
Who am I? Who do you think I am?
So selfish, so self-absorbed.
What am I doing? We all have it bad. I don’t know your life. I don’t know your story.
Forgive me, because I don’t know if you struggle
with loving yourself.
I’m sorry, I don’t know the number of silent tears you cry.
Wishing you were someone else.
Wishing you didn’t have these thoughts.
Wishing you could say something. Wishing you could tell
What am I doing judging you, not worthy of judgment.
Forgive me because I don’t know if they look at you differently too.
If they follow you in the store too.
I don’t know if you have a panic attack every time you see
And I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I thought I was the only one translating at the
doctor while you were at home playing video games.
I’m sorry, I don’t know if they murmur “speak English” while
you shop with your family.
I’m sorry because I don’t know if your mamá y papá cry
because they think they’re stupid porque no pueden hablar
Perdóname, no sé si tú también te preocupas de volver a ver
a tus padres cuando salen.
Y perdóname because I don’t know if los tacos de la
veintiseis are the only thing that give you a taste of what the
old country was—what home was.
I don’t know if you also feel like you don’t ever truly belong.
What am I doing thinking you don’t have it bad?
Because I don’t know if you also feel bad.
I’m sorry because I don’t know if you also wake up hoping
that your mamá will too.
Hoping that she can see her mamá after ten years.
Hoping that you can see either of them in ten years.
And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
Because I know you lost her too and I know you miss her
But I still think we miss her more.
You heard her song, but we still sing it…
So forgive me.
Because I don’t know what I’m doing, thinking that your
biggest problem is your chapped lips, while I have to find
my way through a cruel and closed minded world?
What am I doing judging you like that?
You who have done nothing to deserve my judgment… my
prejudice… my envy.
Verdaderamente te lo suplico.
So forgive me Father.
I don’t know what I’m doing.