SPRINGFIELD – An estimated 5,000+ people attended the 2017 Springfield Live Nativity held inside Corwin Arena at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 here. Sponsored and supported by Greene County Baptist Association churches, this annual free event presents the life of Christ from birth to resurrection through enactment, narration and music. Now completing its 39th year, the Springfield Live Nativity included a large volunteer cast, live animals, light effects, narration from Dave Taylor of KWFC radio, and a choir of singers from many churches in the association.
David Cotter, director of the Springfield Live Nativity, said 137 salvation decisions were recorded during the event’s six shows in three nights.
“The heart and the thrust of everything we do is winning souls for Jesus Christ,” said Cotter, member of Crossway Baptist Church here. “We want to make the show the best we can, but it’s not about how good we are. It’s about the Holy Spirit leading, guiding and directing us at every turn and having that love for people guide us. That’s what people see. That’s what makes a difference.”
This year Brad Bennett, Evangelism/Assimilation Minister at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, gave the gospel presentation that concluded the show. Each person in attendance received a response card that they were asked to fill out before they left.
“After our shows are over we divide the cards and we try to pair their information up with local churches in our association if they don’t currently attend somewhere,” Cotter said. “While our main objective is to win them to Christ, we know discipleship is very important so we try to connect them somewhere. We also receive hundreds of prayer requests and many other requests to meet needs and our churches band together to take care of those needs as well.”
Wayne Garrison, assistant director of Springfield Live Nativity and worship pastor at Boulevard Baptist Church here, said that portraying the entire gospel, and not just the nativity story, is essential to their goal of reaching the unsaved and unchurched during the Christmas season.
“The nativity is just the start of God’s plan of redeeming mankind and when people can see the entire picture it becomes more than just a sweet sentimental thing that happened in a manger,” he said. “We show people He was born to die and then He rose again to redeem us. The narrator speaks scripture while the story unfolds. They are hearing and experiencing the word of God brought to life.”
While they are incredibly thankful for the performance volunteers, Garrison said the event could not take place without the help they receive “behind the scenes.” Volunteers help with publicity, set design, costuming, parking, set-up, tear down, and much more.
“David Cotter puts his heart and soul into this and lives and breathes it for two months,” he said. “It’s exciting to see how it all comes together, and all with volunteers who love what they are doing.”