ZEPHYRHILLS — Richland Baptist Church presented Walk Through Bethlehem for the 17th year last weekend. More then 1,300 people visited the church to have a first-century experience of what it was like the night that Jesus Christ was born.
Walk Through Bethlehem features live volunteer actors portraying merchants, soldiers and citizens of Bethlehem going about their everyday business in the days of Caesar Augustus.
The actors portray the hustle and bustle of a city and the talk that might be heard in the streets, especially the word that a baby had been born under strange circumstances.
As visitors progress through the city, they see Mary and Joseph and Jesus as he lies in a manger followed by the magi who have not yet reached Bethlehem. At the end of the tour, there is an empty tomb representing the resurrection of Jesus after his death — about 33 years after his birth in Bethlehem. Outside the city, visitors are given the opportunity to learn more about Jesus from church volunteers.
Russell and Martha Guynn have been the coordinators of the event since its beginning in 1997. Each year about 100 people volunteer in early October to build the city.
The purpose is to spread the Christian gospel. “Our whole church does this for one reason,” Russell Guynn said. “If we just get one life changed to salvation, it’s all worth it.”