Harvester Christian Church Hosts Annual Journey to Bethlehem

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Every year in December Harvester Christian Church creates an interactive play “Journey To Bethlehem” that participants can physically move through as characters portray the story of Jesus Christ’s birthday.

“They can interact, which will stick to them,” youth pastor Nick Ballard said. “This was a more creative and a visual process instead of just reading the story to them.”

The first year Journey To Bethlehem was introduced was 1992, and ever since they’ve done it every year, doing it for 24 years. The play takes a year long preparation but their hard work starts in the month of August to December. When the play itself is the first two weeks of December.

“Over the year we are always working on Journey, but in the month of August it gets really intense,” Ballard said. “There’s a reason we put a break of youth group at the end of November to January.”  

There are 700-800 people as crew that volunteer to be part of Journey To Bethlehem and each one of them spend 30 hours a week practicing their part. There are people from all over the state that come to Journey, the farthest was from Louisiana once, and Harvester Christian Church is the only one that does Journey known in the state.

“The cast and crew spend an insane amount of work and time into their parts no matter how little it is,” Ballard said. “Every year about 13-14,000 people come to see the play, that’s nearly a quarter of a million all together over the years. People enjoy it.”

Before the play, visitors are given a slip that says a hebrew name on it that they are to go by and always need on standby as they are split into little groups of 15. There are Roman guards that will shout and ask for that name which visitors are to give without hesitation. If they hesitate, they will be yelled at. When each group goes through the journey they are most likely seeing it for the first time so the crew acts the same the 100th time as if it was the first.

“I always tell them to repeat their lines and act if it was the very first time when in reality it’s the 100th time,” Ballard said.

Each part of the play is a crucial piece of the story. Throughout the play, visitors learn how the Israelites made their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem by the help of others that are part of the play and by a bright shining star in the North.

“I liked seeing the people come by and especially the ones who you could just tell were connecting the dots of Jesus’ birth,” crew member Maggie Ralls said.

See social media posts from the event here.




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