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Preparing for eternal life

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What: Heaven's Gates & Hell's Flames

When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, May 12-14

Where: Jamestown Civic Center, 212 3rd Ave. NE

Admission: free; donations welcome, free child care to age 9

Details: Live, cinematic performance of choices and the Christian afterlife

Contact: the Rev. Josh Heilbrun, New Life Church, 269-0464

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What if today was your last day in this life?

"We sometimes ask ourselves if we have lived a good life or not," said the Rev. Josh Heilbrun, pastor of New Life Church. "That is a complex question."

New Life Church, New Hope Free Lutheran Church and Victory Lutheran Church are co-sponsoring "Heaven's Gates & Hell's Flames" for three performances at the Jamestown Civic Center. The traveling production uses local church members as the cast in a live performance accompanied by cinematic scenes on a screen to tell stories of the afterlife.

"I was impressed," Heilbrun said. "We decided to do this production because it approaches a lot of the questions that we have in life."

People think about what living a good life means but over time what is considered a Christian life can change through reasoning and rationalization, Heilbrun said. The characters in this production experience sudden death and look at their lives from the biblical perspective, he said.

What we do, or don't do in this life means something for all eternity, he said. The Gospel message is clear but this contemporary version has characters like construction workers and a mother and daughter going to soccer practice to put the Gospel into modern terms, he said.

"It's everyday, relatable stuff," Heilbrun said. "Someone gets killed and now they are on the other side of the door to find out what happens."

The production has several themes but it's basically the reality of the world view of heaven and hell, he said. The Christian worldview of the Bible is that hell is separation from God, he said.

People think about where they go after this life and what heaven might look like, Heilbrun said. But death is a doorway to another place and no one really knows what is on the other side, and that is where the questions come from, he said.

The production was created by Reality Outreach Ministries in Twinsburg, Ohio, and St. Catharines, Ontario, Heilbrun said. A ministry team brings the audiovisual equipment to the sponsoring churches, he said.

Local volunteers perform around 30 speaking and non-speaking roles that range from 6-year-old children to adults, he said. There are video elements but it's essentially a live performance, he said.

The Rev. Steve Berntson, pastor of New Hope Free Lutheran Church, said he and his wife saw a performance several years ago when it was sponsored by Jamestown First Assembly of God. The "good news, bad news" program helps people to think about mortality and will hopefully stir people to look at their relationship with God and to make a commitment to following Jesus, he said.

"The performance succeeds at showing the hopelessness of a life without Christ and the eternal hope and life we have with Christ," Berntson said.

Reality Outreach does not recommend the show for small children who might find the sight of demons dragging people to hell a little overwhelming, Heilbrun said. Free day care service will be available at the Civic Center, he said.

The point of the performance is not to frighten people but to show that Jesus is the way to eternal life, he said. It shows how accepting Jesus as the savior, confessing sins and asking for forgiveness can lead to salvation.

For more information on the production, visit newlifeweb.org and realityoutreach.org.

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