Delivering a powerful message about suicide, the afterlife and the effects our words can have on others, Sky View Missionary Baptist Church’s Judgment House struck a chord with the community from Oct. 22-28.
The seven-scene play that took nearly 200 volunteers to put on was witnessed by 1,139 people and resulted in 26 salvations and 108 rededications and prayer requests.
“The last two years the numbers have been higher, but those numbers are still tremendous. As far as evangelism, this is the best thing we do,” said Sky View Pastor Wendell Horton. “Other than that, Upward Sports would be the next best as far as reaching out to the community and having the opportunity to spread the gospel.”
The play centers around main character Rayne, a teenage girl who is living with her grandmother after her parents have been sent to jail for drug-related issues. Already upset with everything in her life, Rayne is even more unhappy when her grandmother sends her off for two weeks to a Church Camp.
Things go from bad to worse for Rayne during the camp as her fellow youth do not accept her, make fun of her name and the fact that her parents are involved with drugs. Rayne continues to withdraw from her peers as the camp progresses until she finally reaches her breaking point. After learning from the youth pastor that her grandmother, who Rayne calls the only thing good to happen to her, has passed away, she decides to take her own life by overdosing on pills.
But Rayne is in for a big surprise when her time of judgment comes. It begins as she sees her grandmother, a strong Christian woman who accepted Jesus as her savior long ago, hear her name called in the Book of Life and Rayne watches her enter into Heaven. Rayne thinks she will join her grandmother, but that’s not the case when her name is not found in the same book. She is told she had multiple opportunities to accept Jesus Christ as her savior, but never did. Rayne explains she doesn’t think that’s fair because she’s had such a rough life. Where was God when she needed her, Rayne asks?
Rayne is told that her grandmother had things just as rough, losing her husband in a car wreck many years earlier. While Rayne’s mother spiraled into drugs after her father’s death, Rayne’s grandmother continued to seek strength from the Lord. Rayne is then whisked into Hell, where she is constantly tormented by demons. Although she thought her pain and suffering would stop by ending her life, things instead get much worse as demons taunt her forever with the same names and insults her peers did. Rayne openly longs for the opportunity to do things over, but is stuck with an eternity of torment because she didn’t take the opportunity to accept Jesus while living on Earth.
“Powerful is the word that most people say (after seeing Judgment House),” said Kay Bolt, director of the play. “I had one youth leader tell me not only did it make them think about eternity, it made them think about the words they say to other people. We had one person ask for forgiveness for some of the things she said to people.”
The play is designed to make people take a cold, hard look at their life, and more importantly, what awaits in the afterlife. Bolt hoped the play would reach many young people that so desperately need the message.
“I really liked the script because there are so many youth in our community that are hurting. If they just knew there were other options, they don’t have to go this route,” said Bolt, talking about suicide.
And while Judgment House is meant to demonstrate the importance of making a decision for the Lord, Horton said church members tackle the subject with the same fervor. In fact, Sky View Church members and even members of other churches began practicing Judgment House in August. Upward of 70 youth were involved in the play.
“It gives you an urgency of sharing the gospel because judgment is coming for everybody,” Horton said. “One thing you will see here at this church, the people here are willing to do whatever it takes to reach people. God does it through us, and we couldn’t do this without our youth.”
Bolt said the idea for Judgment House came from her daughter, who attends Liberty University. It was there that she was required to go to a Judgment House for a class.
“She told me about it and I thought it would be such a wonderful thing if we could have one for our youth. That’s how it got started,” Bolt said. “I have a very small part in this…it’s everybody else that makes it work.”
The recent installment of Judgment House marked the third straight year it’s been held at the Fancy Gap church. Bolt said she is amazed with how well the youth of the church and area have taken to the idea.
“The kids started practice in August and before we even finished the Judgment House, they were all asking if we were going to do it next year,” Bolt said. “The kids love it and without them we couldn’t do it.”