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The family based on 'Heaven is for Real' book to visit Bothell
It took meeting Colton Burpo in person for Bothell resident Phillip McCallum to believe Burpo's story of visiting heaven during a near-death experience.
"I had many questions and a bit of speculation," said McCallum, pastor at the Evergreen Community Church. "But after visiting with his family and sitting down and talking with him, all doubt went away."
When Burpo was four years old, he slipped from consciousness during an emergency surgery and woke up telling his family and the doctors about his experience in heaven. McCallum helped Burpo and his family write a novel detailing Burpo's experience. “Heaven Is for Real,” is now a movie and the Burpo family is traveling all over the United States to host conferences for residents.
The Eternity Conference explores questions raised by the movie. The conference also launches an online community to help participants discover their life purpose and how to make a difference in the world.
"The conference isn't meant to convince people that heaven exists," McCallum said. "It's meant to give people hope. We want to bring healing and comfort to families that lost children and let them know that they can see their children again."
Entry to the Eternity Conference is free. Donations will be received to benefit Seattle area charities and to help bring the event to Bothell.
The conference schedule is June 5 at 7 p.m., June 6 at 7 p.m., June 7 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and June 8 at 9 a.m. and noon. It is free and will be held at the Evergreen Community Church, located at 3429 240th St. SE in Bothell.
"I think this event is just one of those things worth investigating and having an open mind about," said McCallum.
McCallum said he had an open mind when he first visited Burpo in 2008 at his home in Nebraska. He met the family while speaking at a conference in Colorado. McCallum had been the ghost writer for several Christian novels and was asked to capture Burpo's story in print.
"It was three things that helped me believe," McCallum said.
The first was that Burpo knew facts that he would not have known, such as the identify of his grandfather who he never met and the fact that his mother had experienced a miscarriage, which she had never told him. Another reason was that Burpo was a very direct child, not prone to imagination or lies. McCallum also said he checked out the details of Burpo's near-death experience and it aligned with what doctors said patients that have near-death experiences go through.
"I kept thinking that for a 4-year-old kid to have that much detail was remarkable," McCallum noted.
McCallum transcribed recorded interviews with doctors, Burpo and his parents. The book was published in 2010 and quickly hit the New York Times Best Selling Paper Back, Nonfiction Top 10 list. The book has remained on the Top 10 list ever since.
"I knew in my gut this story was going to be a big deal," McCallum said. "I told the family to buckle up for this ride and here we are, getting ready to host them in Bothell."
For more information about the conference, visit www.evergreenchurch.tv or www.heavenlive.org.