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Grace Bible congregation pools its resources to brighten the holiday season with living gift

NEWFANE -- God's promises have come to life the last couple of weekends during the annual Living Nativity at Grace Bible Church.

The event -- which ends this year's run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. today -- is a guided tour for walkers who want to experience the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The tour begins inside the church, then takes visitors onto the church grounds, where various biblical scenes have been re-created.

They include scenes that depict God's promise, such as the accounting of Noah's Ark.

"It kind of gets beyond the Nativity, and it starts with the creation," said the Rev. Tom Martin, church pastor. "The theme that comes through is God is a god that keeps all his promises. In the garden, when Adam and Eve sin, God promised a redeemer.

"We have a God that keeps his promises, every one of them."

The Nativity scene has been held for the last few years at the church at 6023 Dutton Place.

About 1,200 to 1,400 families have attended in past years, Martin said.

The scenes in the performance feature actors, props and live animals, such as camels and donkeys.

Martin said about 200 church members perform and participate in the production.

"It really takes just about all ages," he said. "There are younger children, who might be angels, and there's teens involved."

The LaFever family of Newfane are among the church members participating.

Chad LaFever is a tour guide; his wife, Darcie, performs the role of a mourning Mary after the crucifixion of Jesus. The couple's youngest daughter, Becca, 9, is the innkeeper's daughter, and the couple's oldest daughter, Kirsten, 17, also performs the role of Mary during different shifts than her mother.

"It's kind of neat because she asks me, 'What should I do?' and it's been kind of fun, that way," Darcie LaFever said. She said son Ryan, 19, usually performs with the family but is not participating this year because he's away at college.

"I think mostly we do it because we love to show the community what Christmas is all about," Darcie LaFever said.

Mackenzie DeLine, 10, of Olcott, is another participant. She's in the "A day in the life of Christ" scene and is one of about 10 people who watch Jesus perform miracles. She said she thinks it's one of the most important scenes in the performance.

"It shows how awesome God is and how powerful he is," Mackenzie said. "It shows that he's so powerful and that he's the only way to eternal life . . .

"It feels good to be serving God" by helping with the Living Nativity," she added. "It's not something you have to do. It's something that you want to do. I think it's a good reach-out for people to hear about Christ."

Martin said the church offers an opportunity for visitors to commit their lives to Christ during the event.

"I can't think of a greater Christmas present," he said, "than to receive Christ as your savior."

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