First Baptist Church Statesboro’s annual “Journey to Bethlehem” event is set for 6–8 p.m. Wednesday at the Freddie Blitch Farm, and the public is invited to attend the free event.
Designed for young families, the outdoor event gives participants the chance to experience the sights and sounds of a night in Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus. In full time-period attire, shepherds, angels and wise men share stories of a special night long ago, and attendees interact with bakers, jewelry shop owners, basket weavers and more.
The Journey to Bethlehem crowd grows larger each year, and many families say the night puts the holiday season in perspective for their entire family. The event is held at Freddie Blitch Farm, 15 Fred Blitch Lane, which is located off Westside Road, about 6 miles west of the Veterans Memorial Parkway Bypass. For more information, visit fbc-statesboro.org.
Malinda and Landon Lanier, with children Madelyn, 11, Blair, 8, and J.B., 5, are regular attenders of Journey to Bethlehem.
“Witnessing the best story ever told … this event is so special and is a memory I hope my children will carry with them throughout their lives and remember when we would go for a hayride out to see the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Malinda Lanier said.
Lanier said the experience was better than any present she could give her kids.
“The best thing you can do with your children during the season is to let them taste, see and smell the little town of Bethlehem and hear the wonderful news of Jesus’ birth,” she said. “Seeing the carpenter’s shed, the wise men’s camels, smelling the myrrh and frankincense. Tasting the bread and figs, even paying the tax collector and being counted in the census. Not a detail has been left out.”
Ashleigh Wright, who makes the trip to the Freddie Blitch Farm each year along with her girls, Brooks, 8, and Shelby Lou, 19-months, and husband Alan, said she has fond memories of the event over the years. One favorite is the night her family got to play the roles of Mary and Joseph, with Brooks as “baby Jesus” when she was about 2 months old.
“She still talks about it every year when we look at the photos,” Wright said. “I loved watching the wonder in all the kids’ eyes as they approached the manger to see the baby. One precious girl even asked if she could pet him.”
The Wrights shared the night with foster kids on several occasions, too.
“It was such a great way to share the story of Jesus with them. One of our foster kids even had a goat take a nibble out of his pants.”
Brooks Wright said her favorite part is to see the baby Jesus and watch the potter work.
“Brooks gets to experience touching the clay while hearing how God molds and shapes us as his children, like the clay on the wheel,” her mother added.
Jenae and Travis Lynn enjoy the night with twin girls and their younger brother, and have been going since the now 11-year-old twins were around 2 or 3. Jenae said she’s enjoyed watching her kids build on the knowledge that they’ve experienced the years before and expand their understanding of the story.
“They can hear the story of Jesus’ birth at church, home and school year after year, but the Journey to Bethlehem experience enables them to understand the message on a different level that words, songs and crafts can’t deliver.”
It takes a lot of preparation and volunteers to stage the event, sponsored by the children’s ministry of First Baptist Church, and that fact isn’t lost on Jenae Lynn, who has been taking her family for the past nine years.
“Seeing members of our church volunteering their time during the busiest season of the year in the cold, night air teaches us not only the story of Jesus, but reminds us we are called to love and serve others,” she said.