By DAVID MAY
PEASTER – To step back into time and experience what it was like the night Jesus was born, one does not have to go far from Weatherford.
Just go about 11 miles north on FM Road 920, about 2 miles north of Peaster, and take in “The Star of Bethlehem Experience” at Capernaum Village this Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. The times are sunset to about 9:30 p.m. each night.
“It's a wonderful walk-through experience where people actually get to come into the village and see what it was like the night Jesus was born,” said owner Tammy Lane. “We want people to feel the experience like they are going back through time.”
Currently sitting on about 5 acres, Capernaum Village includes a 30,000-square-foot statue garden that leads people on a leisurely walk through the Bible from God's creation of the Heaven and Earth, through the Garden of Eden and Noah's Ark to Moses delivering the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. There is the Exodus of the Israelites and on to the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
After the garden, people are then led to the actual village for a guided tour complete with actual stone buildings comprising a village, marketplace, the inn and manger filled with live actors oblivious to their touring guests as they portray the people and activities that day in Bethlehem. There are children running around, a school, a blacksmith hammering, a potter behind his wheel molding clay into bowls and even a Roman sentry maintaining order and discipline among the villagers.
About 50 actors in the live portrayal come from the Weatherford Acting and Stunt Academy (www.wactacademy.com) under the direction of mentor Twila Barnett.
“There is so much talent out here,” said Lane, who also operates a film production company. “These actors are just volunteering. We have lots of other volunteers behind the scenes. We couldn't do this without them and we are grateful for that.”
Aside from the village and marketplace, there is a movie theater where people can step inside to take in a video and a place for refreshments and to purchase souvenirs.
Capernaum Village has been in existence since 2008 and has steadily grown each year, Lane said.
“We try to change things and make it better,” she said. “As God provides we do what we can.”
While she has used the village for film projects, Lane said it is mostly used for the live productions.
“I really was praying, because we do some film work and I wanted people to go back in time and see how Jesus lived,” she said. “I wanted to recreate that. I felt like God had put that in my heart to make that happen. So that's what I did. I wanted to build a set. That is really what the purpose of this was for, but it turned into a lot more.”
She is especially proud of the 13-statue garden featuring the works of the late sculptor Yansim Pak, an area Korean man whom a family friend of Lane's found and began funding his work until Pak died. Pak gave the statues to Lane's family friend, who in turn gave them to Lane.
“A friend of our family's was driving by this man's house one day and he had all these statues in his backyard, in a little, small backyard, and he was making these statues,” Lane said. “God had given him a vision for it.”
When offered the statues, Lane said at first she didn't know what to do with them.
“I prayed about it and decided this is what Mr. Pak would have wanted for the garden and so we put them in a garden,” she said.
Besides the gardens and village, a large, beautiful brick home with accommodations for up to 36 people sits on a hill above the village that is available as a retreat, especially for churches wanting to rent the facilities.
Lane said the “Star of Bethlehem Experience” takes about 90 minutes to complete. Capernaum Village is a non-profit, privately funded foundation. To attend the productions Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening you can purchase tickets online or at the entrance. Prices are $15 for adults, $10 for children and persons under 3 are free. Group prices are also available.
For more information visit the website at http://www.tammylaneproductions.com/the-star-of-bethlehem or email Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org.