Walk Thru Bethlehem is a story of miracles. Its beginnings are clearly providential. Looking back at its history, it is obvious how God planned and provided for the telling of His Son’s birth in this humble fashion via an outdoor drama called Walk Thru Bethlehem.
In 2001, while sitting in a church service Ronda Hart asked God, “Lord, what about drama?” A large-scale-musical Christmas production was in progress at her church and despite repeated offers to assist, Ronda and her husband Brent had yet been given a way in which they could participate.
As soon as the service ended, the education minister approached her and said, “I have something for you to pray about.” They met for lunch that day and David Simon proceeded to tell them about a walkthrough drama called “Follow the Star”. He wanted to know if they would direct it. They quickly agreed, having already “prayed” about it less than an hour ago!
The production of Follow the Star was challenging being the first time that they had directed anything of that nature. However, they caught the vision and felt strongly that God wanted a Christmas walkthrough drama in the area. They were disappointed though, when the next year they were prevented from putting the drama on again.
They loved the format and saw it’s potential. David Simon, not willing to give up, then wrote an Easter walk-thru drama called, “Missing – The case of the missing body”. Ronda and Brent directed “Missing” for three years. Then they became heavily involved in various other productions including dinner theaters and large scale musical and dramatic performances at their church.
In the meantime a group of ten people had seen a walk through drama in Georgia. They were inspired to create a similar production in the Mooresville area. In 2004, Walk Thru Bethlehem was presented to the community by a group of local churches led by Carol and Tom Welch.
The rustic set was built from scratch and grew over the years. In 2008, the location was moved from the Brawley Mansion in Mooresville to Camp Wesley on Deal Road. Walk Thru Bethlehem was well attended and highly successful and ran through 2010.
Due to circumstances, the event was not held in 2011. Kaye Martin, a former participant, felt strongly that the Lord wanted Walk Thru Bethlehem to continue. In 2012, she decided that she would move forward with the event in obedience to Him.
The prior season of continual dramatic productions for Brent and Ronda had come to an end. The Lord had brought “Follow the Star” to Ronda’s mind that same year, however, the request to do the production was denied.
The dramatic telling of Jesus’ birth had become increasingly important to Ronda and Brent and was now one of their passions. Ronda told Brent that year, “I can’t sit out another Christmas drama. I need to find something to do.” Thus, after contacting a friend who contacted a friend, Ronda was given Kaye’s contact info.
Shortly thereafter, while on her knees in prayer Kaye reminded the Lord that she knew that He wanted Walk Thru Bethlehem to continue and she was willing to lead it, but she did not know anything about drama. “Lord,” she cried, “if you want this to go on please send someone to help out – someone who knows about drama and what to do.”
The very next day, Ronda left a message for Kaye telling her that she wanted to help out and was willing to do whatever she needed. Kaye returned Ronda’s call the following Sunday and they chatted about the drama, the needs and Ronda’s theatrical experience that included walk through dramas. By the end of the conversation, Kaye asked Ronda to be the director. That was not at all what Ronda was expecting!
Seeing that God had opened a new door, Ronda agreed to direct the drama portion of Walk Thru Bethlehem and Brent became the technical director. They met with a group of interested participants and began the journey.
There was much to learn about this drama and a team was quickly formed to set things in motion. The word went out to churches and former participants. Bit by bit, God provided materials to repair the set(from construction site dumpsters and donations), volunteers to help out, cast members and all that is needed for a production. God even provided the much needed Bibles two hours before opening that first night!
It was a walk of faith and God’s hand upon Walk Thru Bethlehem was evident. Many people came and were so excited. Their hearts were touched by the story of the very first Christmas and God’s great love!
More than ten years have passed. It seems that each and every year starts out much the same. There is a list of needs, concerns and hurdles to overcome, but by the time event takes place, God has met those needs, resolved the concerns and overcome the obstacles. The glory goes to Him and Him alone.
The beauty of Walk Thru Bethlehem is that the drama belongs to God. His people, from various backgrounds, locations and denominations work together to make it happen. Every person who volunteers their time, talents, money, supplies, hard work and prayers is part of this story. It is a picture of the Universal Church and Body of Christ working together for God’s glory. Walk Thru Bethlehem is a ministry that is focused on telling the Good News about Jesus during the Christmas season in order to bring hope to those who attend as well as to those who participate.
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