Thousands Take a Journey to Bethlehem
With Christmas just a few weeks away, many four state residents get in the holiday spirit by going on a Journey to Bethlehem. It’s an annual production at the Racine Christian Church that draws thousands of people each year.
” Come, come, ” says Mike Chestnut to a crowd of 30 strangers.
And with that, the Journey to Bethlehem begins. Thousands of people will take the 80 mile, week long trek, which in reality is only 40 minutes, to be counted in the Roman census.
It may not be real but it’s a Christmas tradition.
” We’ve been coming as a family for 6 or 7 years. We come back every year because we love it, ” says Joplin resident Julie Calton.
” It ‘ s something that my kids really enjoy every year and we’ve got our friends here that come with us every year, it ‘ s on our calendar the year before for the next year,” says Scott Jerome of Granby.
This is the 15th year of the interactive play put on by the church.
” It ‘ s turned into a large scale production with more than 400 volunteers and maybe an average of 6000 people a year that come and see it altogether, ” says Youth Minister Chase Marcus.
It continues to grow because of people like Mike Chestnut who for 15 years has acted as a guide. He never breaks character as his ” family ” meets fellow travelers, Roman soldiers and even a camel along the way.
But it ‘ s the final scene that is the most important, a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
” That one night that one baby that one manger, it changed everything for ever and ever for all of us, ” Chestnut says.
” Our world is crazy and there ‘ s so many things going on I just think people want to have faith and they want to hear something bigger than this world they want to put their hope into something, ” says Marcus.
A journey that keeps the Christmas spirit alive.
There ‘ s a final trip to Bethlehem Saturday at the Racine Christian Church starting at 5:30 p.m.