Eternity House to open Oct. 20 in Conway

By Tammy Keith Originally Published October 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 8, 2013 at 9:45 p.m.
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CONWAY — Eternity House is an “intense” experience, but one the production’s director said people come back to see year after year.

Kim Stubbs of Wooster has been directing the walk-through biblical drama since it started 14 years ago.

“It’s one of those things that’s like a life-changing experience,” she said.

About 2,000 people attend the Conway production.

Tours will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays, and at 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning Oct. 20 and running through Nov. 2. Tours are given every half hour, with the last tour of the evening starting at 9.

It will be held in the ForMor International building, 496 U.S. 64 E. in Conway.

“This year’s script, we actually have a storyline that is a little bit different,” Stubbs said. “We will have — and I don’t want to give too much of it away — a family who has experienced a loss. The oldest son has passed away from cancer.”

The emphasis is on how family members, including two other children, cope with the loss.

“We always try to have a family-oriented play based on life experiences,” Stubbs said.

A second family is represented in the drama, a single mother back from rehab for addiction.

Stubbs holds auditions for the parts in August and creates three acting groups who rehearse for three months.

The event started in 1999 with two churches, Sunny Gap Baptist and Wooster First Baptist.

Stubbs said she and Travis Johnson of Camden, an Eternity House Board member, planned the event.

She said it was a last-minute idea, but 500 people came through that first year.

“We were shocked; we were so excited. We were like, ‘We’ve got to get a building,’” she said.

“[ForMor] has been gracious enough to let us use their facility rent-free” the past three years, she said.

Eternity House, which costs $4,000 to $5,000 to produce, Stubbs said, is paid for by private donations and fundraisers.

Six or seven Faulkner County churches are involved, including ones in Greenbrier, Vilonia and Conway.

Stubbs said volunteers spend almost a month erecting walls and creating rooms inside the warehouse.

“There’s a restaurant scene this year; they’re at a football game; a scene where they’re in someone’s home; a hospital scene,” she said.

Stubbs said John and Dianne Cox, also of Wooster, create and decorate the rooms.

“They are just a godsend,” Stubbs said.

Heaven and hell are portrayed in the eight scenes.

“We have a scene that has a crucifixion in the scene. The audience is just asked to stop and think what Christ did for them on the cross,” Stubbs said. “We do have a person who plays the role of Jesus, and soldiers who lift him up and nail him on the cross.

“The ones who had accepted Christ, you see they are accepted into heaven. The ones that reject, they go to the hell scene.

“We’re not trying to scare people and make them think it’s all about that. There’s only one scene that’s hell. We try to end on a very positive note.”

She said the last scene is of heaven, and a pastor gives an invitation.

“Bringing in the local pastors has been amazing,” Stubbs said.

People have different reactions to the production, she said.

“We’ve had people surrender to the ministry,” Stubbs said.

Others might want someone to pray with them or connect them with a church.

“We have some counselors there from several area churches who have been trained,” Stubbs said.

Her sister, Rebecca Rupert of Greenbrier, serves as the marketing and reservation coordinator for the project.

She has had a role with Eternity House the past 10 years or so.

“Every year I walk through it, I’m still affected by it,” Rupert said.

“As I work with it, I see how lives are affected. Even in the early stages of putting it together, everybody who volunteers with it is totally affected by what we’re doing,” Rupert said. “God moves through it, and it’s just an awesome thing to be a part of.”

For more information, contact Stubbs at (501) 472-0892.

Walk-ins are welcome, but Rupert said groups of 20 or more are encouraged to schedule a tour by calling her at (501) 772-1252 or going online at www.eternity

house.org.

“They’ll drive 2 1/2 hours to come walk through it, and that’s amazing to me,” Stubbs said.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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