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Judgement House returns to Great Bend
Judgement House Heaven Scene
Kevin Wondra is pictured in a scene of Heaven from the Judgement House drama “Overdose,” which will take place Saturday and Sunday at Great Bend First Church of the Nazarene. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

Though the presentation will look different this year, Kevin Wondra of Great Bend First Church of the Nazarene hopes the message remains the same, and just as powerful when the church puts on its annual Judgement House drama.

The decisions we make each day of our lives have consequences, not just right now, but for eternity.

Dale Pruter, one of the organizers of the annual event, feels this year’s presentation, titled “Overdose,” is an especially timely topic with recent rises in mental health and substance abuse issues.

It follows two siblings, Ben and Lisa, caught in the middle of an ugly divorce.

While Ben relies on his faith in Christ to get him through, Lisa begins to experiment with prescription pills stolen from her mother. At the prompting of friends, Lisa’s partying gets out of control. 

In an attempt rescue his sister, Ben reaches out to Lisa with the Gospel. However, when one of Lisa’s parties turns deadly from a combination of medications and alcohol, lives are catapulted into eternity.

Pruter hopes the drama will be relatable to many by presenting the Gospel in a real-life setting. He hopes it will lead people to a life-changing decision to follow Jesus Christ.

“We just want to try to help (people) realize that there is a reality after (life) that maybe they are overlooking or not considering enough,” Wondra said.

Wondra said the hope is to present the scenes in a way that is as realistic and lifelike as possible. 

He said he wants to offer people hope of something better in the midst of a what has been a very scary and uncertain time for many.

“There’s an alternative to the lifestyle they have now,” Wondra said. “We believe God can help you through any situation, and especially through eternity.”

“If people have accepted Christ, hopefully this can remind them that God is the ultimate power, and He’s actually in control of all things, and they just need to have faith and rely on Him,” Wondra added.

In the past, Judgement House dramas have been presented at the church in late October, near the time of Halloween. The 2020 presentations were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pruter estimates the church has put on Judgement House presentations for roughly the last 15 years, though how they present it will be different this year than in past years.

Presentations will run once an hour, and will last about 45 minutes. Each will have six scenes running five to seven minutes long. Unlike in past years, where attendees moved from room to room in the church, the whole presentation will take place in the church’s sanctuary, with the scenes set up in different parts of the room. Each scene will be spotlighted with the rest of the room darkened during the scene.

Seating will be socially-distanced, and each presentation will accommodate around 50 visitors. Walk-in visitors are welcome, but Wondra asks that large groups planning on attending call in advance to set up a visitation time.

Guests will be required to wear face coverings, and temperatures will be taken upon entering the building. Disinfecting procedures will take place between each of the presentations. For those who have trouble with stairs, there is a ramp to the sanctuary.

This year’s presentation will be the culmination of the work of approximately 30-40 volunteers from different churches around Great Bend. In past years, Wondra said, the production has taken over 100 volunteers to put on, but the production was streamlined this year to limit exposure for both participants and visitors.

“We couldn’t pull this off without everybody,” Pruter said. “It’s a church and community effort.”

Pruter, his wife Sherry, Wondra and his wife Teresa are heading up this year’s production.

The production will run Saturday, Feb. 20 from 5-10 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 21 from 1-6 p.m. Performances will run once per hour. For advance reservations, call the church at 620-793-6139 or visit the church’s website at Great Bend First Church of the Nazarene is located at 4811 Broadway Ave. The production is not recommended for children under 10 years of age.

Nazarene Church Sanctuary
The sanctuary of Great Bend First Church of the Nazarene is set up for its Judgement House presentation with socially-distanced seating and scene settings at the front of the sanctuary. - photo by Daniel Kiewel