Christian Hellhouse

Oct 292003
Authors: Nicole Davis

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 awaits if

they turn away from God.

Other scenes depict a gay marriage, a rave club, a teen suicide

and the effects of 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 haunted 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 90-minute play.

“‘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

costume, one of which is played by Roberts.

These ghouls follow the characters throughout each scene,

commenting on the naivety and egotism of the humans that they are


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 which lead them away from God, saying that

desires create 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 even eight years later

are still subject to protesters. However, Roberts said that he

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 over 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

represented 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 happen.”

One particularly controversial scene is that of the gay wedding,

which depicts the wedding, consummation and eventual death,

presumably by AIDS, of the gay couple.

“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 does have a positive message however. 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 them.



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