Adventists Sell Tickets to "Hell"
College Station » Inviting your friends to “hell” usually doesn’t qualify for evangelism. But, in Central Texas, Adventists are seizing every opportunity to share God’s love. Even if that means renting a theater and talking about God’s love revealed in the strangest of places: hellfire.
Hell and Mr. Fudge is a film produced by LLT Productions, the same company that produced the Hal Holbrook documentary The Seventh Day: Revelations From the Lost Pages of History. The full-length movie stars professional actors and tells the true story of scholar and author Edward Fudge, who was paid to research the topic of eternally-burning hell more than 30 years ago. What he discovered turned his life upside down. After realizing that Scripture teaches that hellfire destroys the wicked rather than torturing them endlessly, Edward struggled to share this with others. He faced great personal loss and opposition during the following years. Ultimately, in 1982, his research led him to write The Fire That Consumes, arguably the most authoritative and extensive book ever written on the subject.
After seeing a trailer for the movie, members from the Three Angels church in College Station seized the opportunity to share the good news about the character of God with their friends and families. Two showings were negotiated with a local theater in Bryan for consecutive Sundays in July. Good things then began to happen: members invited neighbors and co-workers to join them at the theater, especially those who might not feel comfortable entering through church doors. Invitations were sent to local churches. One member arranged for two TV interviews in the week between the showings. Another member created Google and Facebook ads. Some in the church agreed to sponsor tickets. Fudge and his wife, Sara Faye, who currently live in Houston, even agreed to come for a question-and-answer session after one showing of the film!
But, how would people respond to such a movie that touched on theology, especially when 60 percent of Americans believe in eternally-burning hellfire? Very well, apparently. Even though more of the patrons were friends of church members, dozens came from the public, as well. Some came from Houston and North Dallas to see the screening, two- and three-hour drives, respectively! Response was so good that a third showing was scheduled to accommodate more. Overall, 214 attended the three screenings. Approximately 130 of those were guests! But the numbers were not the only thing to rejoice about.
During the session with Fudge, one guest shared how his father was seriously ill and an unbeliever. He commented, “This understanding of hell is so refreshing! Now I have a framework to talk to him about his life. It gives me peace.” Another said his minister had encouraged him not to come to see the movie, but he was still curious why we had to be motivated by fear (of hell) to follow God. Three ministers in the area from other faiths also attended the movie.
Books on hell and tickets to future showings were given away as door prizes. Study guides and magazines on the truth about hell were distributed to every attendee as they left, with the Adventist church contact info and links to Edward Fudge’s teaching on the subject, as well. We understand many spiritual conversations between church members and their friends were held over dinner and on the way home after the movie.
The Three Angels church was pleasantly surprised at the blessings received when they met their community with the love of God in a neutral place on a hot summer afternoon. As the church holds reaping meetings this fall, the movie may be shown again on the campus of Texas A&M University. If you are interested in sponsoring a showing in your area, contact Jim Wood at 707.337.4648, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.