Oct 31, 2006

Spreading the gospel, one shriek at a time

by Jennifer Schmidt
This past weekend marked the conclusion of the 34th season of Scaremare, the “house of death” that is organized by Liberty’s Center for Youth Ministry. The purpose of the house, however, was not merely for entertainment value or to just give viewers a short thrill and send them on their way. Rather, the overarching motivation behind the project was to remind people of the transient nature of life and that salvation is found in Christ alone.

For some, the wait in line was half the fun of the Scaremare experience, as it sometimes took up to four hours to reach the ticket booth. Since 1,500 to 3,500 people went through the house on any given night, the wait was generally anticipated. While people fellowshipped together in the cold weather, they were kept occupied by avoiding the “ghosts” that haunted the lines or by buying various concessions.

The tour began in a maze with walls that allowed no space for one to turn around and no lights to guide the way. People in front of and behind a visitor soon became his or her best friends. Navigation through the house was done by way of following those ahead and by being pressed forward by those behind. The maze broke out into a wooded area where seemingly possessed individuals, dead bodies and chainsaw-wielding woodsmen accosted visitors. Erratic loud noises occurred and frequent screams pierced the air.

Freshman Kelsie Kirchner said, “The woods were a great part of Scaremare, and the random people were crazy.”

Entrance to the house was gained through a large, downward-sloping tunnel that eventually leveled out where visitors walked inside. From the moment one stooped down to enter the tunnel, there was no more light until the end was reached. The maze theme continued as floor-to-ceiling walls pressed the guests tightly on both sides. Sporadically, walls disappeared and tourists found themselves in a room full of dead bodies or screaming people.

Each room had a specific theme, the notable ones were the inside of a psychiatric ward and a room from a house where the family members were trying to kill each other. At various times, the “wall” would grab someone or scream. This use of darkness was perhaps the best element of the tour, because it allowed for people to be easily surprised.

After her second time through the tour, freshman Connie Reginaldi said, “I was so freaked out the whole time I was going through the house.”

The walk-through concluded with a short stroll from the house to the preaching tents. On the path leading to the tents, there was a cross with a man hanging from it, and immediately before the tents there was an empty cross. In the tents, Liberty students presented the gospel to groups of 15-20 people. 

Junior Luke Watkins, who worked as a coordinator for the preaching tents, said, “It is always encouraging to see the results and you know that all of this work is not in vain.”

As of this past weekend, several thousand more were exposed to the gospel, and over 1,200 people made first-time commitments to Christ.

“Even if someone is already a Christian, the experience is worth it and the preaching (is) a good reminder. It is a great way to have some good, clean fun,” said Sharon Forbes, a sophomore who experienced Scaremare for the first time this past weekend.

This year’s Scaremare was called “DaScaremi Code,” which, according to Watkins, was a simplistic play-on-words from “The DaVinci Code” craze that hit the U.S. earlier this year. Watkins knew of no direct connection between the name for Scaremare this year and the actual scenes that were included in the house.

Regardless, the tour was full of haunted pleasures and unexpected thrills that all contributed to a great experience.

Contact Jennifer Schmidt at jschmidt@liberty.edu.
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