Christian Hellhouse

Oct 302003
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 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

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

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. for more





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