Heaven Is For Real: Secrets Colton Burpo Didn’t Tell You in the Book or the Movie

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.

–John 20:30

SAY WHAT?!  I’ve always found that single sentence in the Gospel of John, which was read this morning at Mass, to be one of the most compelling.  I mean, you’re telling me there are other things that happened–other miracles, other healings, other resurrections, other multiplications of loaves and fishes–which the evangelist saw, but which he doesn’t tell us about?

Well, for gosh sakes, TELL ME MORE!!

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That’s a little like how I felt in April 2014 when I interviewed Todd, Sonja and Colton Burpo, the real-life family whose story is recounted in the movie “Heaven Is For Real.”  Colton is the child who, at the age of three, nearly died and who visited heaven while he was in surgery.  Colton’s stories about sitting on Jesus’ lap, about meeting his great-grandfather “Pop” and his sister who had died before birth, about seeing angels and appreciating heaven’s indescribably rich color pallette, gradually came to light as he talked with his parents after recovering from surgery.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

I was in Hollywood, attending a press screening of the movie before the official release date.  I talked with stars Greg Kinnear (who played Todd Burpo) and Thomas Haden Church (Jay), as well as with the director, producer and screenwriter.  (More on those interviews soon.)

Anyway, I asked Colton whether there were any other stories that he had remembered, but which hadn’t been told in either the best-selling book Heaven Is For Real or in the movie.  (See, I was hoping for a “scoop”!)

“Oh, yes!” Colton assured me.  Then Todd stepped in, explaining that he didn’t want people to misunderstand and think that the other stories were from an entirely different child–but that as Colton grew, his vocabulary increased and he remembered and recounted still other stories, many of them.  Todd and his father told me about two other books:  Heaven Changes Everything is a sequel, written when Colton was a little older, which goes into more detail; and Heaven Is for Real for Kids.  In the kids’ version of the book are illustrations; and Colton told me that he had worked with the artist to ensure that the art, as nearly as possible, represented heaven just as Colton had experienced it.

I haven’t received those follow-up books yet, but I do intend to read them soon.  If you’re a fan of the first book (and now, of course, a fan of the box-office hit movie), you may want to follow up by reading the other books or visiting the family’s website, HeavenLive.

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We spoke of other topics, as well, during our brief interview.

How had their lives changed, following the success of their book and, now, the major motion picture about Colton’s experience?  Here, Sonja stepped in, seeming almost regretful.  “Our lifestyle hasn’t changed,” said Sonja.  “But we travel more.  We have a ‘new normal’.”

The Burpos were resigned to living their lives in accordance with the will of God, wherever He would take them.  But things are complicated now, Sonja told me.  Sure, they still live in the same house; Todd still pastors the same church, Crossroads Wesleyan.  But now they have eight employees, and four attorneys; and their schedule includes frequent travel (such as the trip to Los Angeles to meet with me and other journalists, and a trip to New York City to appear on major media outlets).

They try to maintain a close family; and this year, for example, their daughter is graduating from high school, and the family was busy with party plans and invitations.  They had fond memories of the days when they had free time on their schedule.

*     *     *     *     *

I asked Colton about his plans.  Of course, I asked, having seen heaven and met Jesus personally, you must have a strong faith…. (He concurred.)  So does this make you any more likely to pursue a career in ministry, like your father?

Colton answered my question without hesitation:  No.  He is concerned, he told me, about the number of denominations, about the fact that they teach different things.  He finds that confusing.

“So more than likely,” Colton said, “I won’t become a pastor.  More likely a public speaker.”  And he went on to say that he’d seen many churches where people truly loved God and worshipped God’s presence and spirit.  It has more to do, he said, with obedience and faithfulness.

That was my cue to say, “Well Colton, come on over to the Catholic Church!”  But this was an interview, not a witnessing session; and his father and mother were sitting beside him, happy in the Christian church they ran.  I said a prayer for the Burpos after my interview, asking God, if it be His will, to bring someone into their lives who would talk with them about the Catholic Church’s 2,000 years of continuity and consistent teaching.

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 By the way, Colton is quite an accomplished musician, and a future in Christian music is a definite possibility for him.  Here he performs in Amarillo, Texas, with Read You and Me, the official touring band for Heaven Is For Real LIVE.

Oh–and you can read my earlier post re. the movie here, and my book review months ago, when the movie trailer was first released, here.

UPDATE:  The movie Heaven Is for Real is now available on DVD.  You can get your copy here.

By | 2018-01-27T17:40:04+00:00 December 14th, 2015|Books & Film|


  1. Robert R. March 2, 2018 at 11:14 am - Reply

    The Catholic Church is far from the church of the Apostles. It’s gone through countless changes just over the last 50 years. And it’s saddly the highest church with the most members claiming to be christian but living wordly. Not all catholics are this way, but a large percentage. But the same goes for methodist. Honestly, there’s really only a few select denominators who nearly all live what they preach (mormons, witnesses, etc) much of the Christian religion today is full of people claiming to be christian but living anything but christian lives.
    That’s the world we live in unfortunately.
    Abyway, I love this story and I want to believe it’s true but it’s extreme difficult. Given how the boy who the book “the book who went to heaven and came back” or sometbing like tbat, was a new York times bestseller like 10 years ago and the boy is older now and at age 16, in 2015 he said it was all a lie and that he wanted attention. He never even died. He was in a serious accident and hurt but never died. The book fulleD MILLIONS!! So, it’s very scary…

    • JoelyC March 8, 2018 at 4:37 am - Reply

      Your commenting on Kevin Malarkey’s book hoax not Colton Burpo‘s Heaven Is For Real book. Your post is a false dichotomy.

  2. Tony McGurk November 17, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I just watched the Movie Heaven Is For Real on Netflix. I didn’t know it was a true story until it was revealed to be so at the end. I have watched a lot of NDE videos on Youtube & after seeing Colton’s story I’m even more convinced.
    Up until 2 1/2 years ago I’d been a Jehovah’s Witness for the past 20 years. I left after realising that I could no longer agree with a lot of their doctrines. I’ve since been to many different churches & for about the past year have been going to the Catholic Church. Just finished RCIA. One of the things I’ve been struggling with is the belief of going to heaven as JW’s believe in dying & staying dead until the resurrection. They don’t believe humans have a soul that leaves the body at death. 20 years of indoctrination is hard to put out of your head & I’ve struggled long & hard with many doubts because of my past. However I kept thinking “But what about all the NDE videos I’ve seen that are all so similar?”. People seeing Heaven, Jesus etc. Atheists, Muslims & other non-Christians seeing Jesus & the experience being so real that they converted to Christianity. A big thank you to Colton for sharing his experience

  3. Renee Russell July 19, 2017 at 9:36 am - Reply


  4. JAMES VERNER April 2, 2017 at 5:58 am - Reply

    Hi! Your Catholic faith is certainly consistent over the years, mainly because you are run Priests, Bishops and the Pope who keep you IN LINE. For centuries you were not allowed to read the bible for yourselves in case you interpreted it in a different way from the Catholic Father would do. In Ireland especially we got to read the bible in the 1960’s (roughly) without punishment from the Priest. Today Catholics view the bible in a very different way then they did 100 years ago!! And, the catholic church is not so consistent anymore simply because people can listen to God’s holy Spirit interpreting the Good News to them in their culture and environment in which they live! James.

  5. Anna Morgan February 24, 2017 at 3:22 am - Reply

    I am really happy Colton is okay and when my great aunt was little before she passed she tripped over a soccer ball and her head hit very had concrete and she got a serious concussion and she went to the hospital and they had to do brain surgery and she woke up but she was still sleeping and kinda like Annabel Beam she saw the nurses and doctors working on her head but she wasn’t in her body she felt scared she saw Jesus but he told her that she wasn’t dead she was very special to him and she will live he didn’t have a purple sash on he had a green sash with a white shirt on and 4 hours later she woke up and every thing was cured and an hour earlier the doctors told her parents that there was nothing else that they could do but it was miracle from heaven

  6. Susanne Klein Seymoure December 1, 2016 at 12:14 am - Reply

    I am thankful to have read this article. I recently share my true story in a book called My Secrets From Heaven where I was hung by my scarf on a ski slope at age 11 and died, then went to Heaven and returned and share now as my Mom asked me not to so I did after she passed. I originally wrote it for my children and future generations, but decided to share since we are all connected and family. I can relate to what Colton says about different denominations of churches are confusing. I enjoyed his song… I am playing it for my husband tonight. I love to listen to it. I drink it up and I can relate ! Thanks for sharing Colton and Kathy !

  7. Kathy Schiffer January 1, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    I’ve reviewed it, Nancy–and I loved it, too! I’ll get my review posted here on this site soon.

    Happy New Year!

  8. Nancy Klupacs January 1, 2016 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    HI Kathy,

    I recently saw “The War Room” on DVD and it moved me to tears. I came away with the desire to mentor someone into the fullness of the Catholic faith. Needless to say it is on my bucket list. Have you had a chance to see it yet; it is by Affirm Films.

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