The Monroe, Ohio First Church of God did their 3rd Annual Bethlehem Village. We visited Sunday night and had such a great time. The first thing you do is watch a 2-3 minute video that explains what you will be seeing and doing. Then they take you outside and you have to register with the Roman Census Takers. Then you are given some money (denari, shekels, mites, etc) that you can spend in Bethlehem. There is an apothecary, pottery maker, butcher, cheese maker, bread, fruit & nut stand, tannery, carpenter shop, etc. There were characters in each of these to interact with and you could buy stuff from them. I bought 2 nails made into a cross from the blacksmith. We got to sample wine (grape juice) from the winery and goat cheese and fruit and nuts and bread & butter. They had chicken and lamb (just small samples of each of these) Anything you bought you had to use the money they gave you. There were people walking through the village with animals such as goats, cows, lambs, and a Jerusalem Donkey. There are Roman guards walking around and they tell you to keep moving and when you interact with the characters on the street a Roman guard may try to see if you were talking about the promised Messiah. There were characters in different places that wore a Jewish Star and they were the ones that would share with you about the Messiah and other prophecies that they believed would be coming true soon. Then at the end you would see the Nativity with Mary and Joseph and a live baby Jesus and some more animals. Everything was so neat. It's hard to even explain it all. At the very end you would go to the Fellowship Hall and they had free coffee, hot chocolate and cookies for everyone.
This whole event was without charge. It's just one of their ministries. It really was a fun evening for all of us. Below are a few pictures I took. They are not of the best quality because we went after dark, but I hope you'll get the idea.