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Monday, August 08, 2011

TRUE-LIFE ACCOUNTS OF HEAVEN

The dream, aspiration and intense longing of every born-again Christian is to be in the presence of God, worshiping Him in adoration, with the angels flying around heaven's glorious throne - forever to sing God's praise. Many loved ones have gone before us, and if the Lord tarries, many more will go. Though it is beyond the grasp of our finite mind to describe the beauty and glory of heaven, as it is beyond description, we rest assured in the fact that one day it will be our home, however unworthy we may be.

During the past one week I have been fascinated by two reports on ABC News. One report gives an account of Don Piper, a Baptist pastor from Texas who is also the author of the best-selling book "90 Minutes in Heaven" and the other report is about a boy in coma, went to heaven and spoke with God.

Reproduced below is the two stories as reported by ABC News:

In Coma, Boy Goes to Heaven and Speaks to God

By BOB WOODRUFF, ROXANNA SHERWOOD and ERIC JOHNSON

For a parent, it was unthinkable and terrifying -- a simple split lip that suddenly erupted into a disfiguring, life-threatening infection in a sweet-faced 5-year-old boy. But while Jake Finkbonner's mother and father spent days fearing their son would die, Jake at one point found himself experiencing something he said was beautiful.

"I was in heaven and I spoke to God," the boy, now 11, said.

It began when Jake, who lives with his family in Ferndale, Wash., was playing basketball and hit his lip. Within a day, his face swelled so much he was unrecognizable.

"The swelling didn't go down. I got really sick. They took me to the hospital. Things weren't going so well," Jake remembered.

Doctors determined that Jake had been infected with a rare, flesh-eating bacteria -- necrotizing fasciitis -- that had entered the cut on Jake's face and spread like wildfire, literally eating away at his face.

"It was the most excruciating thing for a parent to have to listen to that everything just kept getting worse and worse and it was just one grim day after the next," said Jake's mother, Elsa.

For two months, doctors at Children's Hospital in Seattle kept Jake in a coma as they worked aggressively to beat the odds and save his life.

 "They were just doing everything they could to stop it but at that point we knew as parents we knew that his life was in the balance," Jake's father, Donny Finkbonner said.

While Jake lay in his hospital bed, his parents, who are Catholic, prayed by his side. Jake, meanwhile, says he was able to speak to God directly.

Jake said that, at one point, his body felt so light that he could almost "lift off." It was then, he said, that he had a vision.

"I was able to look down at the hospital. I saw my family. And then I went back to the house where I saw my family," he said. "The only thing is, I didn't see myself."

After he woke up, he shared his experience with his mother.

"I remember him just laying there in the bedroom in the hospital bed and he sat straight up and said 'I've been raised,'" Elsa Finkbonner remembered. "And I said, 'Where?' and he said, 'To heaven.'"

Jake said he spoke to God, who sat in a high chair and was very tall.

"He wasn't the size of a normal person," he said.

Jake said he also saw deceased relatives -- his uncle and his great-grandmother -- as well as angels.

He said he was enjoying himself so much that he asked God if he could stay, "but he said that my family needed me and everybody else down here -- and he sent me down here and he sent me back down."

For the past five years, Jake has been through dozens of surgeries to repair the damage to his face. His progress has been almost as impressive as his survival. His experience is being investigated as a true medical miracle by The Vatican.

"To us, it's always been a miracle whether the church recognizes it's a miracle or not," Donny Finkbonner said. "It's not up to us, but in our hearts, we know that Jake is a miracle. We've seen it with our own eyes."

Jake said that these days, he sometimes finds himself thinking about heaven before he goes to bed. He has advice for others facing life-threatening illnesses.

"Don't be scared at all," he said. "Either way, it will be a good way. If you go to heaven, you'll be in a better place -- if you live, you'll be back with your family."

Read the orginal ABC News here


Describing Heaven: Pastor, Pronounced Dead, Says He Was There

By BOB WOODRUFF, ROXANNA SHERWOOD and ERIC JOHNSON

Don Piper says he remembers music that was "beyond spectacular" and aromas he'd never smelled before. His grandfather was there to greet him warmly, as dozens of others who had died in years past stood before him in front of a magnificent gate.

Piper, an ordained Baptist minister, insists it was no dream: He visited heaven, he said, and chronicled his experience in the New York Times bestseller, "90 Minutes in Heaven."

"It was the most real thing that ever happened to me," he said.

Piper's ethereal trip, he said, began on a bridge in rural Texas in 1989. There, a truck plowed into Piper's car, leaving him with horrific injuries.

"(The) steering wheel impaled me in the chest and then the car's roof collapsed on my head so there's just no way you could survive this accident," he said.

Piper said his heart stopped pumping and paramedics declared him dead. He was without a pulse, he said, for 90 minutes before coming back to life.

But before he rejoined the living, Piper said he communed with the dead.

"I took my last breath here in the car and I took my first breath there at the gates," he said.

There were lights reflecting off the gates, which looked like they were "pulsating with life," he said.

"That's because in heaven there is no artificial light, God illuminates it with his glory," he said.

In front of the gate stood his grandfather, welcoming him "home," he said.

"I was heartbroken when he died," he said. "Now I'm at the gates of heaven (and) he's the first person to greet me."

Piper, who was ordained in 1985, said he could not have imagined what he saw in heaven.

"You know, if I was having a dream about it, this wouldn't be in it," he said. "Some of these people who met me at the gates, I haven't thought of in decades."

As Piper's body remained trapped in the car, the wreckage caught the attention of a couple driving by. As Dick Onarecker and his wife pulled up to the scene, they were told that Piper was dead. Onarecker decided to pray over Piper's body anyway.

"The Lord just impressed on me very emphatically very urgently that I was to pray for him," Onarecker, who died in 1996, said in an interview before his death.

Piper said he regained consciousness and heard Onarecker singing "We Have a Friend in Jesus." Soon, he joined him in song.

"He's singing, and, and I'm singing, and I'm thinking to myself, 'What happened here?'" Piper remembered.

Piper was alive, but he would face a long recovery. He endured dozens of surgeries to fix his bones and had to learn how to walk again.

"I knew I was not going to be the same physically, because of apparently how badly I was injured. But I also know what I've seen," Piper said.

He believes he was sent back to spread a special message: "Heaven is a real place."

Piper has spread that message with his book, which has sold 4 million copies. But even with all his success here on Earth, he said he looks forward to returning to those magnificient gates.

"It's not that I mind being here, I'm actually very excited to be here," he said, but "this doesn't seem real to me now, because I know how temporal and fleeting it is.

"I know it happened in my very soul, my very being," he said. "It is now my reality. And so I can't wait to go back there."

Read the original ABC News here

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