In December of 2007, a miraculous thing took place on the hill behind the local Food Lion in Buena Vista, Virginia. Thousands of people came from miles around to experience a live, interactive, walk-through presentation of the nativity. It was a Christmas community outreach that had a twist…it involved the community.
Early in 2007, Tim Morrison, Worship and Fine Arts Pastor of the Buena Vista Pentecostal Holiness Church, had a vision for outreach that would not only unite area churches in proclaiming the gospel, but would involve the whole community as well. That vision soon became known as The Night Of Miracles: A Journey To Bethlehem.
The physical recreation of Bethlehem was inspired by a small nativity village purchased at a department store several years ago. With the creative talents of local sculptor Mr. Mark Cline, who not only served as creative consultant, but fabricated the stone-like look for the buildings out of fiberglass, Bethlehem came to life! People throughout the community rallied with their support by participating in daily construction and donating supplies. Soon, with such details as live animals, fire pits, torch lighting and various theatrical props, the village was complete.
With a nightly cast and crew of almost 100 volunteers from within the church and throughout the community, The Night Of Miracles: A Journey To Bethlehem became a reality. Opening to the public for the first time on December 7, 2007,
the presentation ran for two consecutive weekends, providing visitors an experience they would not soon forget. Guided by a narrated musical track, visitors heard the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, watched the procession of the Magi, and with the hustle and bustle of townspeople thronging the marketplace or gossiping at the well, witnessed the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. As visitors exited the village, they were greeted by a hospitality team who offered them refreshments as well as the opportunity to discuss what they had experienced and receive Christ as their Savior.
Several things happen when an outreach of this size and nature takes place. First, it brings people together with a common goal, creating a spirit of unity and a sense of ownership for those involved. Secondly, it develops relationships that bond people together that last far beyond the event. And finally, but most important, it provides a creative vehicle that carries the salvation message to thousands who would never otherwise enter the doors of a local church.
The event is one that we hope will continue to grow and expand each year. Talks and meetings are on going concerning additional construction, volunteer recruiting, publicity, and presentation improvements for the future. The recreation of Bethlehem is a permanent installation and is located on 26 acres owned by the church for the purpose of relocation in the very near future.