Flames flicker on a screen over the stage and the crackling and
popping of fire is heard over the speakers. Suddenly, pain-wrenched
screams of horror begin to echo eerily around the room.
This scene, from the play “Hell House,” is designed to put
viewers in the lap of hell. To give them a taste of what is
awaiting them if they turn away from God.
Other scenes depict a gay marriage, a rave, a teen suicide and
the effects of an abortion.
For the eighth year in a row, “Hell House,” is being presented
in Colorado in an effort to reach young audiences with the word of
The event, which in previous years was a tour of small skits, is
sponsored jointly by two Colorado Christian churches, Destiny
Church and Vision Fellowship. This year, due to space constraints,
the format was changed and “Hell House” is now presented as a
“‘Hell House’ allows us to communicate the message of the gospel
in a really creative way,” said Keenan Roberts, pastor of Destiny
Church and founder of “Hell House.” “We can speak to some very
contemporary issues. This gives us an effective vehicle to do what
the church is supposed to do – give people an idea of the
difference between life and death, heaven and hell.”
As he spoke Roberts adjusted the ghoul mask that covered his
face. The play is narrated by two of Satan’s underlings in ghoul
costumes, one of who is played by Roberts.
These ghouls follow the different characters throughout each
scene, commenting on the naivet� and egotism of the humans
who they are watching.
They laugh gleefully and make encouraging comments as a young
man contemplates and then commits suicide. They make jokes while
they watch a young man twitch and convulse on the ground after
taking drugs at a rave.
The two ghouls provide a running commentary about the choices
that human beings make that lead them away from God, saying that
desire creates sin and sin leads to hell.
The creators of “Hell House” have received a large amount of
criticism for their work over the years and eight years later are
still subject to protesters. However, Roberts said he still
believes this is an effective way to relay his religious
“The message is what is sacred, not the method,” he said. “The
church today needs to be more progressive, and look for what works
In the eight years that “Hell House” has been running, Roberts
said that more than 45,000 people have come to see it, a large
number of them youth.
Josh Miller, a youth volunteer at The Cross Ministry, attended
the presentation with the youth group he works with.
“We wanted them to see the differing opinions that are out
there,” Miller said. “(‘Hell House’) has a shock value that wears
off quickly, but today’s youth need so much stimulation that this
is one way to reach them.”
Roberts said that reaching people is his main goal with Hell
“Through “Hell House” I can reach the world with what the Bible
has to say,” he said. “People come here that don’t go to
And Roberts reported that about one in four people who view
“Hell House” either make a first-time commitment or a recommitment
to Christianity, as indicated through a survey filled out at the
end of the presentation.
Those involved with “Hell House” are proud of their work and
brush off comments that the message they present is hateful, too
graphic or a cheap scare tactic.
“We just show what is out there,” said Josh Purcelli, who played
the character of Sin in the play and has been with the program for
six years. “We don’t candy-coat things. These things really
One particularly controversial scene is that of a gay wedding,
which depicts the wedding, consummation and eventual death of a gay
“So many people are hateful in the way that they talk about
homosexuality that we are almost guilty by association,” Roberts
said. “They don’t like what I am saying so it is automatically
hateful. Just because I don’t bend to the pressure and give in to
our critics that doesn’t mean that this is judgmental or
The play ends after going through scene after scene of the
sinful things people do, the finale is a scene of heaven in which
Jesus tells everyone in the audience that there is still hope for
“Hell House” is showing this weekend at Vision Fellowship church
located in Thornton at 9171 N. Washington. Shows run all day this
Friday and Saturday. Check out www. Godestiny.com for more