By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
In a place as small as Union Springs, and with a camel like Charlie, you don’t have to advertise. The whole town sees the one-night-only live nativity.
“The community just loves it,” said Mona Crawford, secretary at First Baptist Church, Union Springs, in Bullock Baptist Association. “We’re only able to do it one night, but everyone always asks if we can do it more.”
This year — the second year for the nativity — the church’s children and youth played the roles of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men.
But the sight that brought in the crowds — Charlie — was brought in by a First, Union Springs, family who makes a ministry out of unusual and exotic animals.
“We try to do special things for people,” said Kristy Williams, who along with her husband, Sam, runs Critters for Christ.
For the Dec. 13 nativity they brought in Charlie and a gang of his friends — mini horses, mini donkeys, sheep and alpaca. As people in the community stopped by to see the scene and pet the animals, members of First, Union Springs, passed out animal crackers and tracts of the Christmas story.
‘Real blessing to us’
“It’s a real blessing to us to get to be a part in this way,” Williams said.
During the Christmas season, the Williamses find themselves all over the state helping with church nativities. The rest of the year they take a troupe of animals to Vacation Bible Schools, fall festivals, birthday parties, nursing homes and children’s homes.
And when they do, they add in a few animals that are less likely to have been present at Jesus’ birth — an African crested porcupine, wallaby, lemur, zebra and others.
“The ferret is our No. 1 petted animal,” Williams said.
She and her husband have been involved in evangelism for years, investing their lives sharing the gospel with others. They got into the exotic farm business when they had seven children and realized they needed another avenue of ministry that the kids could be a part of.
“It’s unique,” Williams said. “The kids love it, and a lot of parents have never seen some of these animals. We get to talk about how God created us unique.”
The family is working now to get their home — Faith Farms — up and running so that people can come to visit them too, not just see their animals at events.
“We’re putting Bible verses throughout the farm and there’s a big cross just as you walk in,” she said. “We want it all to point people to Jesus.”
For more information, search for the Critters for Christ page on Facebook.