By Lanell Downs Smith
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist
Choctaw and Washington Baptist associations are partnering to sponsor the evangelistic drama “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames” on Nov. 3–5 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church, Butler.
According to Terry Long, director of missions for Choctaw Association, the production will feature seven or eight skits that present scenarios through which people face death and eternity. A large staircase being built by a construction team out of Washington Association and other volunteers leads to the entrance of heaven where an angel holding the book of life reveals whether the characters will enter or be turned away.
Some characters experience great joy as they reunite with the Lord and loved ones who have gone before. Others are shocked to discover their good deeds were not enough to gain entrance into heaven.
“It becomes very obvious that if your name’s not in the book of life you’re not going to get into heaven,” Long said. “We dispel all the myths about being good and going to church. It depicts the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection. In the very end it is so powerful.”
The gospel will be shared each night and trained counselors will be ready to speak with those who go forward at the invitation, Long said.
Reality Outreach Ministries produces the drama at churches across America by sending a ministry team to the host church. The team brings a motorhome and trailer filled with equipment, sound, lighting, props, special effects, screens and everything the church needs for the production.
The host church supplies 30–50 volunteers who are trained by the ministry team to present the drama.
The First, Butler, production will be cast Nov. 1 with rehearsals following throughout the weekend. First, Butler, deacon Neal Nix is set to assume the role of Jesus.
Long said this is the first time he has performed the drama on an association-wide level. Back in the mid-1990s, Long pastored North Wynona Baptist Church, in Wynona, Mississippi, and partnered with First Baptist Church,Wynona, to present the drama. Attendance exceeded 700 each night with more than 500 salvations resulting from the event.
Long said the event demands a lot of prayer, work and promotion. Leaders have been planning the event for more than two years.
“We are always looking for ways to reach the lost,” Long said. “It takes a big goal to pull all these churches together. They see that this has great potential to do a lot of good. I believe we are going to have hundreds of people saved.”
‘Reach the lost’
Long added response cards will be collected at the event and distributed throughout the churches as part of a plan to follow up with decisions.
Prior to the event teams will post more than 400 posters and distribute 4,000 free tickets throughout the community. Students in four local schools will watch a preview video and receive tickets to attend the play. Tickets are not required to attend but will be used to advertise the event.
Long said the production has brought churches and people together from both Choctaw and Washington counties who are now partnering across racial and denominational lines to reach the community for Christ.
“In the last three or four years Choctaw Association has been working hard to bridge those gaps and pull God’s people together for one common purpose of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the county. All our people and denominations have worked well together,” Long said.
Larry Thompson, associational missionary for Washington Association, said the leaders and members of churches in Washington Association are excited about the production.
“They’re glad we’re doing it,” he said. “We’re all in this together and the goal is to reach people in our counties for Christ. We want to bring our people together and renew their desire to reach the lost.”
Child care will be available throughout the event for children up to age nine. Long anticipates large crowds and encourages visitors to arrive early.
To learn more please call First, Butler, at 205-245-4286 and check out the promotional video at www.tabonline.org/heaven.