Not Just A Haunted House,

But “A Journey Through HELL”

                                   

By: Glen E. Dawursk, Jr.

www.yuthguy.com

 

This story took place during the fall of 1978 in Wichita Falls, Texas

 

Lohren and I had only been at the Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ office two days, when we had this idea to make a Halloween haunted house.  Only, we wanted this house to be different – because, it would be a CHRISTIAN HAUNTED HOUSE!

 

Halloween, like Christmas and Easter, has become a holiday filled with commercialism and un-Christian virtues.  Its history dates back to the Old Testament times, where people from Britain and other European countries held a celebration honoring Samhain, the Lord of the Dead.  It was believed that on the last day of October (the eve of the Celtic new year), Samhain would call together the souls of all those who had died and had been condemned to live in the bodies of animals in the past year.  On this night, these souls of the dead would return to their former homes.  “If acceptable food and shelter were not provided, these evil spirits would cast spells, cause havoc and terror, and haunt and torment the living.”1 This is the beginning of “trick or treat” on Halloween.  Throughout the world, beliefs and practices such as these were performed as rituals honoring the realms of death and its master.

   The Christian church later adapted some of these pagan rituals into Christian worship.  When the Roman Pantheon in Rome, Italy, was built, it was intended to be a place for citizens to pray to the goddess Cybele for their dead.  When a Christian warrior captured this temple, it was given to the Roman Catholic Church.  The Pope at the time, reconsecrated it to the Virgin Mary, a practice often used to “Christianize” well established pagan celebrations.  Now the Roman Catholic Church allowed its people to gather and pray to the goddess Mary for their dead, in the same temple used formally by the pagan priests and cultist believers.

For several centuries, “All Saints Day” was the major celebration held in the Pantheon.  It was traditionally held in May, until it was deliberately moved to the first of November in order to coincide with the ancient celebration of Samhain, the Lord of the Dead.  The Catholic church was again adapting pagan rituals as Christian worship in order to please newly conquered countries.

“All Saints Day and “Halloween” are deeply rooted into the pagan rituals of worshiping the dead, placating evil spirits, honoring Samhain, the Lord of the Dead, and the transferring to Mary, the pagan esteem previously given to the goddess Cybele.  “Halloween” especially is a tool the Devil has built up and used effectively to blind Christians into believing that it is okay to celebrate a holiday, which formally gave worship to the Lord and goddess of the Dead.  He has blinded Christians into believing that His prime tools of “death” and “fear” of it are harmless and fun.  Lohren and I knew that people of our country, including Christians, were not about to just give up Halloween.  Therefore, we thought of ways in which we could share “resurrection in Jesus” on the celebration of death.  This is why we decided to create a Christian haunted house.

   Lohren Meier (of Littleton, Colorado) and I (of Milwaukee, Wisconsin) were D.C.E. (Director of Christian Education) and Speech and Drama practicum students from Concordia Teachers College (now University) in Seward, Nebraska.  We chose to assist Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ – a youth “evangelism outreach” ministry headquartered in Wichita Falls, Texas.  With the permission of Pastor Fred C. Darkow, the Executive Director of OAFC, as well as the rest of the staff, we set out to build the first “Christ-centered” haunted house within the existing OAFC building.  The headquarters was an old Baptist church, which OAFC purchased two years before.  The building was two stories, and contained many unused Sunday school rooms, therefore, making it very easy to create a “house” effect.

We decided to name the house, “A Journey through Hell.”  We wanted to show various sections of Hell.  Each would deal with death and the real history of Halloween.  The final death shown would be Jesus on a cross.  The Gospel message would be that Jesus has given us victory over death and the powers of the Devil.  We wanted to show what Paul said in Hebrews 2, verse 14 and 15.   “He (Jesus) in the same way took flesh and blood in order to die and so take away all the powers of him who had the power of death that is, the devil, and to free those whom, terrified by death, had to be slaves all their lives.”  With Jesus, we don’t have to fear ANYTHING!

The “Journey through Hell” started on the far side of the building at a gym entrance.  The cost was $1.00 per person with discount rates to church groups.  The person taking the money allowed five people in at a time.  They were told to have a seat in the first room.  Upon entering, the door slammed behind them.  The room was filled with several chairs, a desk and a skull-shaped candle.  A gentleman dressed in a three piece suit entered the room and lit the candle.

“Welcome (pause) to Hell.  I hope your visit won’t be a short one … stay as long as you want – maybe forever? (Laugh) I would like to warn you though, be very careful – anything can happen down here.  As you walk around, you will find a maze with five or six ways to get in, but only one way to get out!  If you don’t find your way out, well, you may be here for quite a while.  (Grin slyly) Come, (motions people toward library).  I want to show you one of my collections of famous souls.”

The gentleman would lead the visitors into the library, an extremely warm room filled with shelves and a dim red light.  On the shelves were different colored jars with people’s names labeled on them.  Charles Manson, Son of Sam, Janis Joplin, Judas, the rock group KISS, and Jesus were included on the shelves.  The jar with Jesus’ name on it was broken, stained with blood and lying on its side.  A blood-filled rag was next to the jar as if someone had tried to wipe up the mess.  An empty jar was also on the shelf.

“Look around, see anyone you know?  Notice the rock group, KISS (professed Satanists), they’re going to Hell, too … they worship ME!  And, oh yes, over there (points to broken container) that WAS Jesus’ soul, but we couldn’t keep Him down here.  He broke loose.  And that empty one?  That one is for your soul, if you dare? … Come follow me.”

The people were led down a dark hallway to a stairway.  Here Satan would tell people to “enjoy your journey through Hell.”  He would laugh, and then disappear.  As the people began to climb the steps, a flashing strobe caused the steps to look as if they were moving and a “pullied” ghost flies down on a stretched wire over their heads.  When they finally get to the top of the steps, they walk through a section where the ceiling lowers to only four feet high.  When they arrive at the maze, they are completely on their own.  This conglomeration of cardboard walls, black lights, lowered ceilings; secret rooms, dead ends and swinging doors had six possible entrances, but only one exit.  Many people spent 10 to 15 minutes in this section of the house alone.  If someone was lost, a person sitting at the entrance to the maze might assist.  Throughout the maze, “haunted” sounds could be heard through a sound system hidden above the lowered ceilings.  Whenever people entered the maze, the words “ghosts and goblins beware, our guests have arrived,” gave clues for the demons to be prepared.  Once the five people found their way through the maze, a person draped in a black cape met them – this was the demon.  The demons were responsible fore leading people through Hell.  Each section had a least one.

“Come.  Let us visit sections of Hell.  Follow me.  Enter quietly, you are about to witness a pagan ritual.”

The demon would lead the people into the first of three rooms on the maze side of the house.  The demon closed the door, and the light went on.  In the room, a large black structure on the top of a small table forms the first tool of death – the guillotine.  Before us stood someone with a hood over his head and the victim stood in the corner behind the guillotine.

“Tonight you will witness a blood offering to the goddess Cybele.  As we cut off the victim’s head, may his blood cry to our goddess of the soul – Cybele.  Let us test the guillotine.  (The blade is dropped)  We are ready.  (He grabs the victim by the arm and puts the victim’s head into the guillotine.  As he looks up) Oh, goddess of Souls, (the lights go out) this blood cries to you.”

The blade drops, the victim screams, and the lights are turned back on.  Before the people, the head of the victim lay in blood in a basket below the guillotine.

   “The sacrifice is complete, who will be next?”

HOW IS IT DONE?

The basket has a hole on one side of it.  As the lights go out, the victim screams as he is putting his head under the table, and into the basket below the guillotine.  A curtain draped under the table hides the rest of the victim’s body from the visitors’ sight.  Blood paint on one side of the victims’ face gives an effect that the head has been cut off.

 

The demon leads the people out of the room.  A second demon leads the five into the second room or section of hell.  As the people enter, the demon motions them away from the door.  Behind the door stands an old man, the “victim of death.”  The room is dim, but a casket made from cardboard and plywood is visible.  It is set upon a table.  The room resembles a funeral parlor.  Before the casket stands a weeping old woman.  The demon directs the attention of the visitors to the casket.

   “Hallow’s Eve is the celebration of honor to Samhain, our Lord of the Dead.  Come closer; let us see one of his latest victims!”

As the casket is opened, the old woman screams.

   “He’s gone, the body’s gone!”

The lights go out, and the demon attempts to lead the visitors out of the room.  The final room is dimly lit, and cluttered with scientific books, papers, and test tubes.  A table with a covered body is before the people.  The scientist describes his experiments.

   “Welcome to my experiment.  My name is Dr. Lind field.  I am a scientist.  You are just in time for my greatest experiment.  I am about to create artificial life within this dead corpse.  While my tools may seem primitive, I have produced an instrument, which will send electricity throughout the body of this dead creature.  Observe as I produce life.”

As the scientist switches on the strobe and red spot above the head of the body, the creature begins to move violently.  Suddenly all the lights go out.  The scientist begins to yell.

“What is happening?  Something has gone wrong!”

After a few seconds, the dim light is turned back only to find the creature standing directly in front of the visitors.  The light does off again as the creature attacks.  The demon leads the visitors out.  They are led to a door, where they are told …

“Follow the florescent arrows on the floor.  They lead to a door on the other side of the hallway.”

The demon enters the hallway behind the visitors.  The demon slams the door and proceeds to the other door.  As the visitors cross the hallway, a wall of nails begins to roll down the hallway towards them.  A strobe causes the movement of the wall to look staggered.

The door on the opposite side of the hallway is locked, and the wall is getting closer.  The visitors are at a dead end, with a wall of nails heading in their direction.  The wall suddenly stops about three feet away.  A loud band is heard, and the door is opened.  The people enter quickly.

 

HOW IS IT DONE?

A wooden frame supports the entire wall.  It’s on four wheels, and leans slightly to the back.   The nails were pounded through cardboard, and taped from the back of the structure.  The nails were painted with yellow florescent paint, and a black light was put in the hallway ceiling.  The strobe was controlled from begin the wall with a long extension cord.  The strobe faced into the wall.  The arrows on the floor were made of making tape and painted with florescent paint.  The door slam was the code for the wall to start moving.  The bang on the wall by the person pushing the wall was a code for the demon in the next room to open the door.

 

The next room is the first of four on this side of the house.  It is filled with several chairs and a huge structure used for hanging.  The victim, standing on a box, is about to be hung.  A person wearing a white KKK robe and hood stands next to him.

KKK          “The Ku Klux Klan is devoted to one cause – to further Satan’s work here on earth.  You shall die because of your efforts to stop us.

Victim       No, I didn’t please don’t …

KKK          Jump!

Victim       No.  I won’t.  Never!

KKK          I said jump!

Victim       No!”

The KKK member violently kicks the box out from under the victim.  The victim gives a bloodcurdling scream, then dies.

KKK          “Who will dare to stop us next?  Will it be you?”

 

HOW WE DO IT?

A chain forms a swing set in which a metal pipe is the seat.  The victim wears a pair of cutoffs in which another pair of long tight pants is put over.  The pipe is inserted between the shorts and the tight pants.  The arms of the victim are put in back of the chains, while the head still sticks out front.  Foam padding is put in front of the chains where they touch the victim’s body.  A second shirt is put on over the chains.  The rope around the victim’s neck is not attached to anything.  It should be draped over the top brace.  When the victim has the box kicked out from under him, he will swing on the bar as if sitting on the very edge of a sing set.  The KKK should stop the victim from swinging too much.  (There is no possibility of the person getting hung literally.)

 

The demon will next lead the visitors past two monkeys chained to a wall.  These monkeys tear the chains off the wall and attack the visitors as they are entering the second room, on this side of the house.  

HOW DO WE DO IT?

The chains are nailed to wooden blocks, which are attached to the wall with Velcro.  The Velcro allows the chain blocks to be put back on after each set of visitors.

 

The second room is dark as the visitors enter.  A girl draped in a black cape tells her visitors to sit quietly.  The light is turned on, and before the people is an altar with the numbers “666” and the witches’ “crow’s feet” painted on the front.  A young child lay on the altar.

“Hallow’s eve is a celebration of death.  It honors the god of the dead and the wicked spirits of the dead.  It is believed that on this particular night, the souls of the dead return to their former homes.  If an acceptable sacrifice is not given, the evil spirits will haunt and torment the living … a trick if no treat!  Witness this live sacrifice to the spirits of the dead. 

(She raises her hands before the altar.  A knife is in one hand.) 

Oh, god of the dead in the fires of hell, hear our mournful cry.  We beckon thee to accept this sacrifice.”

The witch bows before the altar and then stabs the young child.  The child screams, as the witch turns to the visitors.

“Now, depart from Satan’s presence.”

As she directs the visitors to the next room, she points to the door and says,

  “Hell can go no further, depart!”

The next room is filled with thorn bushes and is draped in black.  There is no movement.  A small bridge leads the visitors past a cross.  A young man is hanging from the cross.  His hands, feet, and side are blood stained.  A crown of thorns pierces his head.  The cross is lit up in red.  It is completely silent.  Only the visitors make any sounds.  There is no other light in the room.

The visitors open the door at the end of the bridge.  Several spotlights from the next room blind them.  No longer is the room with the cross dark.  This final room contains a real water fountain splashing below a mural that says, “He is risen.”  Soft Christian music is heard, and a smiling girl waits in the room.  She hands each visitor a tract entitled, “The Assurance of Heaven.”  She points out the end purpose of the house written on another wall.  It says, “For God so loved you, that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die on a cross for you, that if you believe in Jesus as your Savior from sin, you will not perish, but you will have everlasting life.”  John 3:16.  A second sign above it, painted in brightly colored red and green says, “With Jesus, we don’t have to fear anything!”  A final sign bids them farewell – “Thank you, and may God bless you!”  The visitors exit the room; go down the steps, and out of the house.  Their journey is complete.

   The Haunted House took over 200 man-hours to build and 30 people to operate effectively.  Lohren and I built the entire structure during our free time, with the technical assistance from Richard Meyer, the OAFC business manager.

The cost of the materials was relatively low because OAFC had several piles of lumber that they had never used.  Originally, OAFC had plans to repair a section of the building.  This saved us at least a hundred dollars in lumber.  The walls were made of cardboard which we got free from a local railroad salvage dealer.  Friends and local businesses donated other materials for our use in the house.  We bought nails, material for the black capes worn by the demons and with, and white sheets for the hoods of the KKK, three masks, florescent pain, black lights, ropes, chains, and sound effect records.  These materials cost us about $80.00.  We also purchased 2,000 pamphlets telling of the house for an additional $20.00.  The entire house cost us about $100.00 total.

   When the house ended from a five-day run, over 450 people had walked through, and we had made over $300.00 profit!  For the first year, and a lack of advertising, we felt this was a very successful venture.

The house took between 20 and 30 minutes to walk through depending on how long a person was lost in the maze.  Many people commented that this house was far better than the seven other haunted houses in the city.  Several pastors were excited to see such an effective outreach taking place in Wichita Falls.  Only the Lord knows how many people took the message to heart, but his was just another opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work the saving Gospel message into the hearts of people.  We never intended to preach to the visitors.  We presented the message and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

 

1 (Quote and Historical Source)  What Is Happy About Halloween” by John W. Howe.  The Lutheran Digest, Fall, 1978.  Lakeville, Minnesota, 1978