Man Called Jesus
Resurrection: I just saw (7/31/2016) an interview with Clifford Fisher which indicates that a modification of this Christmas Season Passion Play is scheduled for Dec. 2016 & will be called "Jesus is His Name". The intent is for this to be a community production (all of Lexington County) by all of our county talent rather than a production of a single church. The outdoors event will likely run for two weeks and will be at the South Congaree (horse show) Arena, located at 395 Oak Street, West Columbia, S. C. Clifford Fisher and his wife, Coroner Margaret Fisher, have owned Abraham the camel for some 20 years.
When: For some 25 years, TMCJ was a December event. In latter years, buses came from other states and attending crowds often numbered 1000 to 1800. 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!!!
BUT, the event has been resurrected in Dec. 2016 as Jesus Is his Name (JIHN) & ran again in Dec. 2017 (at the South Congaree Arena without a specific church affiliation)...see info HERE!!! We attended the closing night on Sunday, 17 Dec 2017 where 1300 were in attendance. I'm told that 37 people accepted Jesus as their personal savior this year!
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. Then it became the brainchild drama of Joan Bedenbaugh, visionary & long time director (deceased in 2017). As of the end of 2011, over 534,000 people per year (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 was 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
ministry. A history of the production, HERE; and the nearly two hour drama is preserved on YouTube, HERE.
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
link. Interestingly, Margaret Fisher became Lexington County Coroner in 2014!
[Behold The Lamb (Passion play by First Baptist
Church-Batesburg, S. C.; discontinued)]
[Oberammergau Passion Play (alpine town in Germany; check this
600 year old Drama!)]
[Journey to The Cross (Passion play by Northside Baptist-West Columbia, S. C.; discontinued)]
SEE: Wikipedia World-wide Passion Play list
***give me your comments about this
(posted March 2002; latest update 19 December 2017)
You have just read about a drama which sometimes has the
powerful, supernatural transformation effect of significantly touching lives and even leading to a transformed life in Christ which is possible through
the acceptance of Jesus as your savior and practicing of The Way. 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]!