LOCAL NEWS

Local live nativity hopes to raise thousands of dollars for refugees again this year

Dec 16, 2023, 7:44 PM | Updated: 8:23 pm

LEHI — The “A Babe is Born” live nativity began Friday night in Lehi. While it’s meant to spread Christmas spirit, it also provides assistance to refugees. 

Founder Matt Flake says a lot of work went into the event, but wants the experience to be as real as possible. 

“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” he said. “We want the experience to feel authentic. We also have wanted it to be hands-on for the children. Here they can pet a donkey, llama, the bunnies and sheep. The animals are roaming freely. It really feels like ancient Bethlehem.” 

On Friday night, 72 different actors portrayed shepherds, wise men, innkeepers, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. 

“Each actor is a refugee,” Flake said. “We pay them each night for their time. Many people, who attend, comment on how beautiful it is to see baby Jesus portrayed by a black baby.” 

Many of the refugees have migrated from African countries. 

Jeanete Mukeshinana came to the United States after escaping horrible and violent living conditions in Africa. She spent some time in Tanzania before coming to America. 

“Every day I was scared,” she said. “I had two babies. We left so much family behind in that horror. I knew zero English when I came here.  I don’t know how we survived.” 

Mukeshinana said she appreciated the help from “A Babe is Born.” 

Last year, the organization raised $65,000 to help hundreds of local refugees. Each ticket sold to the event equals a meal for a refugee. 

“Tickets are a fundraiser and some attendees Venmo extra donations,” Flake said.  “It really is pretty incredible what people do.” 

There were many event-goers who came with bags in hand. Inside were donations of mittens, coats, and socks for refugees. 

“We take the donated money and use it to send back to their camps across the world,” Flake said. “We send chickens, goats, and flour.  There are so many who live in third world villages who need our help.” 

“I thank God I am still alive,” Mukeshinana said.  “Being here is special. Celebrating the birth of Jesus brings me hope.” 

“A lot of these refugees have stories that are incredibly hard to hear,” Flake said. “They have parents, children, siblings, who have all been killed. Some of them are still missing. They show us how good we have it here and how many blessings we have,” Flake said 

The live nativity is held at 1174 S. 1700 West in Lehi. With the exception of Sunday, it will run through Tuesday. 

Those interested in buying tickets and donating to refugees can do so here. 

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Local live nativity hopes to raise thousands of dollars for refugees again this year