Coming to theaters this month, the new documentary film THE CASE FOR HEAVEN is based on the book published by New York Times best-selling author Lee Strobel. The documentary answers the questions of what awaits us after death, the evidence for heaven and hell, and what really happens in Near-Death Experiences.
In THE CASE FOR HEAVEN, director Mani Sandoval takes audiences on a fascinating journey to find out what happens after we die. Lee Strobel explores the evidence for an afterlife as he addresses mankind's biggest fear: death. THE CASE FOR HEAVEN was inspired by Strobel's own brush with death and will challenge, encourage and inspire viewers. The documentary includes interviews with world-renowned pastor Francis Chan, best-selling author John Burke, Evangelist Luis Palau, and more.
We are honored to catch up with Mani Sandoval for this exclusive interview.
Q: Mani, thanks for doing this interview with us. What first attracted you to Lee Strobel's book THE CASE FOR HEAVEN?
I actually first heard about the book from what felt like a 2 minute phone call from Lee Strobel one day. He was in the process of writing it, and I remember stepping into the hallway of our offices to take his call.
At first glance the title didn't interest me, only because my mind went directly towards Near Death Experience stories that are based on one singular experience someone had in heaven without any evidence. But when Lee explained his case, the framework, and some of the evidence, I felt embarrassingly convicted, if I'm honest, as a Christian. I've believed in God my whole life, so how could I not know a lot of this stuff? And then I was hooked - that's Lee's style of writing for you. He's got a fantastic right hook when it comes to apologetics.
Q: What is heaven? How would you describe heaven?
Heaven is everything God promised it to be in the scriptures. It's a place he has prepared for us that we know and truly feel is HOME. A place where there is no pain and suffering. A place where we will be reunited with everyone we've missed and longed to meet. It will be a place of great reconciliation, where everything will be made right, and we will truly understand the fullness of God's grace. I look forward to meeting my grandfather, whom I've never met, and asking God... "Why did you choose me?"
I know the answer, but there's nothing like hearing it directly from your Father's mouth.
Q. The movie explores the existence of heaven from within and outside the Bible. From within the Bible, what does God's word say about heaven?
In the film we make the case for Jesus' existence. If indeed He was the son of God, died and was resurrected - then that would mean He is a witness to heaven. And then His words about it are a credible resource for what heaven will be like, as He has been there.
Q: Outside the Bible, are there any evidences about heaven?
In the film we have experts speak into the existence of the soul via neuroscience. We dive into the question: can our soul survive our bodily death? Also, we dive into Near Death Experiences of corroborated cases that give us objective evidence for the existence of the soul itself and peek into what heaven might be like. And when this is paired with scripture - it's fascinating to see what we learn.
Q: In this movie, you have interviewed many guests, including the late Luis Palau. What was he like when you interviewed him?
We intended to interview Luis Palau, alongside Lee Strobel, which would have been a tremendous honor. However, during the making of the film, our beloved Luis went to be with the Lord before we could meet. It was heartbreaking for everyone. It made everything we were doing even more real to me personally.
This was a man who shared the love of God with over a billion people, and he was now in heaven. I mean the day we are born is a celebration, and I wonder if the day we leave this earth is similar, yet we do mourn because we are human. In short (haha) -- Leslie Strobel, Lee's wife, was able to find what we call the "lost tapes," which was Luis' last major interview with Lee Strobel about heaven, his terminal illness, and outlook. It was a "God kiss" moment, as my wife says, for us to find it. The recordings are a treasure trove of a man with so much faith in his voice you can feel it in yours.
Q: How has the pandemic and COVID intensify people's longing for heaven?
The experience of death for many younger generations has been accelerated, as well as the fear of death, amongst so many around the world. Though there is a reality of our eventual mortal death, there is hope. I think people want that hope - the hope of heaven.
Q. Why should our readers watch this new docufilm?
I believe everyone is carrying some sort of inner questions, doubts, struggle, pain or burden. My prayer is that people leave something at the theater after watching this film. I would encourage the readers to take this journey with us -- it's filled with many doubters, skeptics and seekers looking for the answers that point towards the truth. If heaven is real? And if we could truly understand more about it -- how could it change every aspect of our lives? I promise you'll walk away not just being moved but you will learn something you didn't know.
For more information about THE CASE FOR HEAVEN visit www.thecaseforheavenmovie.com.