WICHITA, Kansas – The line of people was out the door Wednesday night at Warren Theatres West, with hundreds of churchgoers taking part in a special screening of the new faith-based film “Heaven Is For Real.”
The screening, hosted by Central Community Church in west Wichita, is meant to start a discussion about what happens after death.
“What we’ve done is we’ve invited people to come see this movie, and then on Sunday, I’m doing a sermon series called ‘Heaven Is For Real’ and we’re going to see what the scriptures say,” senior pastor Bob Beckler said.
It was the first of five sold-out screenings organized by the others, with the others to be held at the Warren West and East locations on Friday and Saturday night.
“When we started, we thought we would originally do maybe one or two different theaters and we kept selling out of them, and in one morning at church we sold out,” Beckler said. “So we have five different showings completely sold out, and we’ve encouraged our church to invite their friends and neighbors.”
The film is based on a non-fiction book about four-year-old Colton Burpo’s near-death experience and his visions of heaven. But not all Christians are on board with the telling of the story.
“The reason I’m not a big fan of this movie or, really the book is because I believe that the Bible is our final authority,” Jordan Friesen, a ministry student and religious film enthusiast said. “And what I have read is that what this kid says he saw in heaven is not what the Bible says.”
Nevertheless, there is agreement that this movie and others like it can start a conversation about faith.
“I hope this does get people pointed back to scripture,” Friesen said. “Can they go to the Bible and find out that heaven is for real, and that’s kind of our main issue with it.”
The film and book have a Kansas connection, which was a point of intrigue for those in attendance. Burpo’s great-grandparents were longtime residents of Ulysses in southwest Kansas.