As many of you may know I had an incredible experience during my battle with cancer in 2009. On a nightly basis I was somehow taken to a time and place sometime in my future where I experienced face to face dialogues with the Lord. During that time I would wake up in the morning and type out what I had experienced and heard from the Lord that night. I asked many questions of Him and He readily answered almost all of them. These conversations are recorded in a book entitled Face to Face a Dialogue with Jesus. I did not ask for this and I rarely talk to anyone about it because of the personal nature of the encounter.
Since that time I became very interested in reading the accounts of others who have had similar experiences. It seems to me that there is a rapid increase in the number of people who have had heavenly visits. Each of them is unique but there are many similarities. I believe that Christians should consider the possibility that God is increasing such events as we near the grand finale of planet earth. His message is clear: heaven is real.
I remember in the seventies hearing about Richard Eby who had fallen out of the second story of a building and landing on his head on the concrete below. During that time he died and went to heaven. He has written an account of that called Caught up into Paradise. I went with a group of men from our church to hear him speak in the late 70s. It seemed to me at the time that he was the only man I knew about who had been to heaven and returned to tell about it.
A few years later our church invited Roberts Liardon to speak at our church. Roberts claimed to have been taken to heaven at the age of eight years old. There he experienced heaven from the vantage point of a little boy. For example he relates that he and Jesus got into a water fight in the waters of a heavenly river. Later in life the Lord called him into ministry and he has traveled the world with his message. The story of his heavenly visit is recorded in the book I Saw Heaven.
Since that time I have heard of many others with similar stories to tell, especially in recent years. Among the more recent of these are the experiences of two young boys who had heavenly visits. I believe God has spoken through these young boys to dispel some of the doubt that many people have about the possibility of someone going to heaven and coming back to tell the story. An older person like me might be prone to exaggeration or fabrication but young boys have no such inclination. They just say it like it happened without concern about how you receive it.
Colton Burpo was one of these boys. He had experienced a serious medical emergency that had put him in the hospital for some time. Later the family was driving past the hospital and Colton remarked, “That’s where the angels sang to me.” That began an amazing adventure during which the family finds out that Colton had not been dreaming but had actually visited heaven, talked with angels and sat in Jesus’ lap. Colton came out of his body and was later able to tell his parents what they were doing in another part of the hospital. There is much more to this story as Colton volunteered information about his heavenly visit. None of this was coerced out of him but rather it was the truthful account of a young boy with no agenda.
Colton met John the Baptist, other children and had some amazing things to report about heaven. In describing Jesus he said that he had “markers”. When his dad asked what he meant by markers he said that Jesus had markers on the palms of his hands and the top of His feet. These and other details are much more than any young boy could invent. Truly Colton had been to heaven as I and others have and he had talked with Jesus.
Kevin Malarkey and his son Alex were in a horrendous car accident that almost took Alex’s life. When the accident happened, Alex saw five angels carry his father to safety. As the first responders prepared Alex to go to the hospital, Alex speaks of arriving in heaven with the help of the same five angels. At the hospital room he watched everything from near the ceiling of the emergency room with Jesus standing beside him.
In heaven he was greeted by a hundred and fifty white angels with wings calling his name. Alex describes heaven in wonderful terms: “Heaven is not the next world; it is now. Heaven is not up in the sky; it is everywhere and nowhere. Heaven is a place that is not a place. It’s eternal. All other places end… Lots of things in Heaven are similar to things here on earth. There are trees and fields of grass, lakes and rivers, and many other parts of the earth that we know. It’s just that in Heaven, every last detail is perfect.” (pp. 47, 66). There is much more in the book but as the story unfolds there is no doubt that Alex saw heaven and talked with the Lord.
Some time ago Mary and I were blessed to take part in a gathering to hear the story of Howard Pittman. Mr. Pittman had a massive heart attack in 1979 and ended up being transported from one hospital to another. During that ordeal he was escorted by two angels who allowed him to see some earthly situations from his place in the spiritual realm. He was eventually escorted to heaven and there encountered the presence of God. He ends up being sent back with a message.
He was told to sell everything he had and give it all away and wait for God to commission him. He did so and waited for nine months before being invited to a television program that launched him into ministry. Since then he has traveled the world speaking to any group that invites him. He is seldom invited back because he brings a message of judgment from God concerning the condition of the church and the need for repentance. Since then he has written several books and has videos, DVDs and audio tapes that describe his experience. He describes heaven, demonic beings and provides help in understanding the spiritual realm and the need for the church to repent from its lukewarm condition.
Don Piper describes his story in his book 90 Minutes in Heaven. He was in a devastating head-on collision with a truck on a bridge in 1989. Paramedics declared him dead after examining him. A man and his wife who came on the scene were told that Piper was dead, but he, being a Christian, believed the Lord told him to pray for this man. Piper revived during his prayer and the two began singing “What a Friend we have in Jesus” together. Piper found himself at the gate of heaven but never entered heaven but he met many people who had died before him. He was sent back with the message that heaven is real.
For a while he didn’t say much, feeling that what he experienced was a “sacred secret”. Then, at some point, he realized that he had a message to deliver. I can relate to that. It is heart wrenching for me to tell of my experience because I often feel as if I am gaining notoriety from it when it is all about our Lord and not about me at all. I am able to share when someone asks about it but the Spirit will not yet allow me to openly announce the experience.
Richard Sigmund was in a terrible accident as well and found himself in a thick cloud like a veil. He could hear the sounds of the accident scene behind him but a force was drawing him through the cloud where he began to experience heaven. His story in My Time in Heaven is one of the most detailed of the accounts of heavenly visits. He tells of the two angels who escorted him down a golden pathway and describes many aspects of heaven in remarkable detail. He speaks of children and babies in heaven, the music and aromas of heaven and was blessed to see the city of God and the very throne of God.
He speaks of a prophetic aspect of heaven which depicted things to come for earth. He was given seven signs: 1) The last great move of God will be in out-of-the-way places. 2) Signs and wonders will increase and be opposed. 3) Physical laws will be suspended so that miracles can flow. 4) Laws of time and space will be made known to men. 5) Knowledge of man will increase. 6) A tidal wave of God will break out especially in rural areas. 7) “Awareness is given My people in days and weeks just before My return.”
This agrees with the tone of God’s word to me during my experience. Indeed there will be an end time move of God restoring His church to her place of victory as a testimony to Him. Many preachers today believe that the church will be a “nonfactor” in the last days but God wants all people to know that is a devastating lie of the enemy. There is a strong tendency among many Christians to doubt anything that is supernatural even though the walk of a follower of Christ is supernatural from start to finish.
Retha McPherson from South Africa tells the story of terrible accident that almost took the life of her son Aldo. While lying on the side of the road a Black man stopped and came to Aldo and prayed, “Satan, in the name of Jesus, no death will take place here tonight. This boy will live and he will not die.” The man kept repeating that last command. Aldo did live and his story is amazing.
His mother, Retha, experienced incredible things as she interceded for her son and learned to give him to God. She learned to believe God and pray in faith for her son. Later Aldo tells of how Jesus came to the accident scene to pick him up and take him to His throne room.
Aldo was completely incapacitated for a while and all he could do was write. He began writing messages from the Lord. He began to declare in writing that he would speak again. Among many other things the Lord showed Aldo is that there will be a wedding feast where Jesus will receive His bride. But, many Christians will be left outside because they are not ready. The church has much knowledge but our need is “an intimate loving relationship with the King.” I could go on and on about this young boy but the story is recorded in A Message from God. God is using these tragic situations with young children to verify His message and emphasize that He and heaven are real and we need to have that intimate relationship with Jesus.
This article would be way too long if I included all of the really credible accounts of heavenly visits. Let me just mention a few others. The late Choo Thomas experienced a series of heavenly visits that changed her life and that of her family. She tells the story in Heaven is So Real.
Mary K. Baxter experienced heaven and has written about it in A Divine Revelation of Heaven. The Lord also allowed her to visit hell show she can warn people of its reality.
Ian McCormack was stung by poisonous jelly fish in Mauritius near New Zealand and was dead for about 20 minutes. During this time he experienced both hell and heaven and returned to tell us the story. He came back into his dead body lying in the hospital to the astonishment of a doctor there. In some ways his dying was the beginning of his life. His story is transforming lives around the world as it deals with many of the questions we all have about God and heaven.
There are hundreds of stories out there and I do not doubt that there are many people who have visited heaven but have never been led to make it public. The accounts all have many similarities although there are differences as well.
This is not just an American phenomenon. Accounts from all over the world are coming in of heavenly visits by people of all cultures. God is sending them all back with the message, “Heaven is real and the church must prepare itself for the soon return of Christ.”
I am aware that in the end times there will be false signs and wonders (Matt. 24:24). Paul warns that in the last days people will “…depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).
This concerns many people and because of this warning they reject anything that is supernatural. The problem with that attitude is that such people may miss out on someone quite amazing that God wants to do.
Because of this danger, God wants His church to be a context in which truth is revealed and lies are exposed. Paul told Timothy that the church is called to be “the pillar and ground of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The church is to be a context in which all things are tested in the light of God’s word so we can “hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). Things shared in the setting of the church are to be judged by mature people who know how to weigh things according to the word and the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:29).
God would not allow His church to function in the supernatural realm without providing it with supernatural discernment. One of the gifts of the Spirit provided to the church for this purpose is “discerning of spirits”) 1 Cor. 12:10). The church must be able to discern the difference between the Holy Spirit and the evil one.
So, two things are happening in these exciting days. First, God is increasing supernatural experiences among His people and secondly, He is increasing the discernment of the church and the way it gathers. No longer will the church be a top-down experience where the people sit passively while someone teaches. Increasingly, the church will learn to gather in ways that allow the saints to participate in fellowship, sharing and discernment. In so doing the Holy Spirit will produce a mature church that knows what it believes and knows how to walk accordingly. We pray that the Holy Spirit will accelerate that exciting progress.