The idea that someone could have a near death experience, go to heaven and come back, is usually met with skepticism, even with the strongest believers. That said, Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, became a best-seller after Todd Burpo wrote about his son Colton’s experience meeting Jesus face-to-face. That book is now a screen adaptation, set to open in theaters next Easter on April 16, 2014.
As Christian Post reports, the story chronicles 3-year-old Colton Burpo, who nearly died in 2003 after his appendix burst. While in surgery, he claims he went to heaven, visiting with family members such as his grandfather and sister, the latter whom died in a miscarriage.
"You had a baby die in your tummy," he told his mother Sonja. She asked, "How do you know you have two sisters?" He responded, "Well, she told me." Colton told his mother that his sister is "just waiting for you guys to come to heaven."
When Jesus reportedly told Colton he had to go back, the boy didn't want to leave. "Even though I didn't want to go back, he said that he was answering my dad's prayer," the boy explained.
He identified Jesus through the "markers" on his hands and feet. "I was in the throne room of God to start with, so I got to see what that looked like."
We Were Soldiers and Secretariat director Randall Wallace was tasked with bringing the tale to the big screen, which stars Greg Kinnear as Todd, Kelly Reilly as his wife Sonja, and newcomer Connor Corum as their son Colton.
“I’m amazed it got to me,” Wallace told Entertainment Weekly. “I’ve been around churches all my life and I’ve been exposed to a lot of material that would be categorized as inspirational. Most of the stuff is anything but inspirational for me. But I found this story to have an incredible intrigue and emotional power,” he said. “It speaks to the cynic in most of us.”
The book, published in November 2010, has sold more than 8 million copies and has been translated into more than 30 languages. It has also spent more than two years on the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list.