Around 1,000 people, both students and community members, filled the ballroom to listen to the story behind “Heaven is For Real,” Friday. After a short five-minute video about the program “Feed the Children,” Jason Hurd, lead pastor at Discovery Church in Chadron, introduced Todd Burpo, author of “Heaven is For Real.”
Burpo started by discussing his son Colton’s book, “Heaven is For Real for Kids,” which was written by Colton, with the mentoring help of his family and agent. His book was written almost a year after his father’s book.
“I just wanted kids to know how heaven was and what it looked like. I wanted to show kids that heaven isn’t a scary place,” Colton said.
After a few songs from The Discovery Church Band, which brought most of the audience to their feet to sing along, a video clip of the “700 Club” took the screen. The video covered the story of Colton’s journey.
When Colton Burpo was four years old, he started having medical problems. The doctors determined that his appendix had burst and an infection started to grow throughout his body; he needed to have surgery right away.
In the video, Todd talks about how his frustration took over and how he was angry with God.
“After all I’ve done for you, you’re going to take my kid,” he’d said.
During surgery, Colton almost died, but lived and today is a healthy, 12 year old boy.
According to the family, Colton took a trip while he was under. It wasn’t until four months after his surgery that he started talking about how he was flown to heaven by Jesus and angels. Colton described Jesus as wearing white robes with a purple sash, and having bright blue eyes, and marks on his palms and feet. Colton’s story also included meeting his father’s grandpa, “Pop,” who passed away when Todd was seven, and learning about the miscarriage that his mother had.
At the end of the video, Colton claimed Jesus told him that he had to go back. According to Colton, he didn’t want to and asked why; Jesus replied that he was answering his father’s prayer.
Hurd then interviewed Todd and his wife Sonja about their experience. Todd went into more details about how there was no way Colton could have known about his father’s grandpa, for there were never any pictures shown to him nor did anyone talk about him to Colton. Todd said he showed a picture to Colton of his grandparents, who were younger at the time. Todd said that Colton recognized Pop right away.
Sonja goes more in depth of when Colton came up to her and said, “I have two sisters.” This, too, Sonja said, was something he couldn’t have known. Astonished, Sonja had asked how he knew that. He told her that he saw her when he was in heaven and how she looked just like his older sister, only she had dark hair and brown eyes.
On the verge of tears, Sonja went on to say how Colton said that when he first saw his sister, she came up to him and gave him lots of hugs and said that she was excited to see their parents one day.
The book, which is a New York Times number one bestseller, nonfiction paperback and has sold 6.6 million copies, with 11 finished translations, goes more in depth about the family’s story.
“Heaven is For Real,” which came out in November 2010, took about two years to finish, not counting the amount of time it took to determine what was going to go into the book, finding an agent, and writing and re-writing the numerous manuscripts. Although reluctant to write the book in order to protect his son, Todd said that God spoke to him in a prayer and said that since he found peace in knowing about his daughter, he should share the peace. Eventually, an agent was found and the process of writing and editing began.
After the interview was over, Colton took the stage and sang “Amazing Grace,” followed by a closing remark from Todd. The Discovery Church Band got the audience to its feet again, where everyone joined in singing, and the presentation ended with a prayer.