Man Called Jesus
When: For some 25 years, TMCJ was a December event. In this day and age if families being so stretched with multiple commitments, it is miraculous that a church body and its friends could muster this huge event for so long. The final production was during Dec. 2012. I enthusiastically applaud all who were any part of this wonderful gift to so many for the stewardship of giving to their neighbors so richly and for so long!!!
Where was it: 1001 highway #378 just a few miles west of Lexington, S.
C., 29072; 803-359-1556...803-356-3334. Lake Murray Baptist Church (LMBC).
The Story Behind this Annual
Event: It all began in 1988 with a
roadside nativity scene in the church yard (by the highway) of this then small, rural
Lexington County church. As of the end of 2011, over 534,000 people (many coming in chartered
buses from other states) have been amazed to behold this Christmas season live drama from the
birth of Jesus to His ascension.
At the International Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City
March 2001, we met my brother-in-law's friends, Mr. Clifford & Mrs. Margaret Fisher, Sr., owners
of a construction business in Lexington, S. C. As it turns out, Mrs. Fisher is a real animal
lover and with the Richland County Sheriff's Dept. Being members of LMBC, they have bought and keep camels, donkeys, sheep, and horses
for use in the production. As sort of a family ministry, the Fishers provide many of the
animals for some other church dramas.
When I saw it (about 1997), it was in a large,
rented, enclosed rectangular circus-type tent rented from Barnum & Bailey Circus for
around $46,000 per 1 & 1/2 week season (another $12,000 per year to install & raise
the tent...in latter years the event costing about $70,000 per year). Seating was on either
side of a 20-foot-wide, elevated action runway; and drama scenes shift from the runway to
either end and back and forth. Mary rides in on the donkey, Roman soldiers come by on horses,
and there is a large cast (recently over 400 members) of drama participants, great realism,
and many live animals. At the end, the pastor briefly explained how Jesus died to save us all
and that each person simply must make a decision to accept (or not accept) this salvation. I
was surprised how many came forward to either accept or learn more (over 800 professions of
faith just in 2003 season)!
It began during Rev. Herb Gladden's ministry (a
businessman called into the ministry). A little lady gifted with a powerful drive for this
ministry has been one of those key people God has used to help members stay motivated for
this unique ministry. Those with military experience might characterize her as a real "first
sergeant". Joan Bedenbaugh & her husband Mike are/were key among many devoted to the
The new permanent building (to avoid the annual
tent expense) is described as a miracle. It was finished just in time for it's first season
of use; when it opened, a miraculous giving took place so that the $300,000 unit was fully
It was/is amazing to me what God can do through a
small-church, rural body of believers who are willing and obedient! This ministry has Holy
Spirit empowerment written all over it! In Dec. 2001, there were 13 productions of the 14th
annual (90 minute) drama between Dec 7th-19th (160 costumed actors). For 2006, there are
performances over 3 weekends (Dec. 1-3, 8-10, & 15-17). Read more at the above
600 year old Drama!]
***give me your comments about this
(posted March 2002; latest update 15 December
You have just read a very brief example of the
powerful, supernatural transformation in the life of a small church which is possible through
the acceptance of Jesus as your savior and practice of The Way by a body of believers. Are
you tired of life as it now is for you? He will accept you just as you are right this second!
Consider accepting Jesus now [check it out]!