THeaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, a huge nationwide bestseller about a boy who "died" and saw angels, miracles, by Todd and Colton Burpo, a beautifully written glimpse into eternity that will encourage those who doubt and thrill those who believe -- a little boy's remarkable 'trip' during an emergency appendectomy and what he described in a near-death experience authenticated by his descriptions of the hospital and procedures!  click here 



An account was sent our way a while back by a hospice nurse in Michigan. We are keeping names out of it. It has to do with a man, a dying patient, whom she called Alan. He was succumbing to bladder cancer that had metastasized "everywhere."

On his deathbed, Alan, 77, a former engineer who owned his own company, allegedly recounted (this is fairly recently) how he'd had a near-death episode twenty-two years before, during open-heart surgery. She recorded it in detail.

It was an event, he told the hospice nurse, that had drastically changed his life -- for "Alan" had been shown hell by the Archangel Michael, at the direction of Jesus, Who saved him after much pleading but nonetheless wanted him to take back an idea of what his fate would have been had he died at that particular moment.

He'd been a cold, selfish, rude fellow, not even loving toward his wife and children, a man who cared only about money and his personal comfort, one who laughed at the notion of God, when an anesthesiologist offered to pray with him. We're excerpting a piece of his testimony. It's tough stuff -- not for the squeamish. So keep that in mind before reading on. If you don't want to delve into this bit of darkness, simply do not. If you know anyone who is an atheist, you may want to forward it to him.

Truth? Fiction? We're using it because of some striking similarities with other, equally obscure near-death accounts; in short we felt it had the ring of truth to it.

For some reason, intriguingly, hell experiences seem to be coming to the fore. It seems to go along with the signs of our times. We'll be discussing this in-depth at our retreats.

It had been a close call with the netherworld.

The story is certainly dark. For some, it may be upsetting.

As "Alan" put it, "I could have been was crushed, completely crushed by my own sinfulness. I saw my soul as God sees it you see, and it was horrible.

"My soul was covered in holes and filth, a filth that I had willingly accumulated and heaped upon myself! So much that I had become unrecognizable! Like a decaying corpse, covered in oozing, rancid, living filth, weighing me down, screaming out my shame before my God. I should have willingly run as far as I could, but there was nowhere to go. I was stuck solid in place and forced to view it all, without excuse, without relief, and my shame grew heavier and heavier before such incomprehensible Purity.

"The next thing I knew, my Guides and I were standing in a valley, completely desolate and surrounded by huge, black mountains, jagged and barren. Their base was deep, deeper than the path we were standing on, and they extended to depths that seemed to have no end and no bottom. We walked along this very wide path and it slowly descended. At first the path was smooth, but as we walked it very became steep and slippery. I was afraid I would fall, because on each side of the pathway were horrible looking creatures, crawling up from the darkness, snarling and cursing me, reaching out their hands trying to grasp at my heels as my Guides urged me on.

"The deeper we went, the thicker the air, and the darker the atmosphere became. In the distance, I heard very faintly, a terrible ruckus, fighting, arguing and screaming. I didn't want to go any further and begged my angels to please take me out of there. They said to me 'You must see what awaits sinners who reject God'. We continued going further and further toward an immense and living blackness. At the end of our descent was a huge and formidable looking structure that seemed to go on forever both in depth and height.

"The fear that surged through me was overwhelming and I wanted to run away but was held steadfast by my angel guides. These immense gates were locked shut with enormous black bolts from the outside. Michael raised his hand, the locks released and the gates opened. Immediately a sickening stench filled my nose that both burned and nauseated me. Like rotting flesh in the heat of a summer sun soaked in burning tar and sulfur. It was terrifying and I was so frightened that I clung onto my guardian angel. As the gates opened completely, the sounds that hit my ears made me tremble with fear. Guttural screaming in language that was so utterly filthy, that I would never repeat it to anyone.

"The cacophony of screams, blasphemies, and continual weeping filled the air and reverberated through me filling me with an intense dread and indescribable terror. As we entered, my mind filled with an immediate knowledge of each of the souls I saw imprisoned here. What I witnessed in this place of suffering is so indescribable, that words fail in every aspect. The stench and the heat alone are completely unbearable. To my right I saw black, shining walls that extended to dizzying heights. Within the walls small niches were carved out of the blackened stone, one on top of the other which extended the width and depth of this wall.

"They were an innumerable number, thousands upon thousands of them. Each one was of similar shape and size; they were circular in shape and each contained a soul that was crammed into it, unable to move, unable to adjust itself for any comfort. Their faces were turned outward toward the center of this dungeon, and they wailed, screamed and cursed continually. Wide, bulging eyes with expressions of torture, hatred and despair so excruciating that I had to look away. 'Look!' my angel said, 'Look!'

"The despair that filled each and every one of them was without respite and ate at them continually. The knowledge of each action that propelled them into this pit of darkness was always played before their souls in a continual stream of remembrance that only they could see. They knew of no other person there other than their demonic torturers. Besides pain and despair, they suffered an overwhelming and penetrating loneliness.

"So intense was their suffering that no words can possibly describe such a horror. I could see the cause of their torture, as their lives continually played out before them, stopping at specific times showing a particular episode, a particular sin. Or an opportunity to have done good, but instead chose to do nothing. They screamed out insults at God, cursing out names of parents, lovers, even their own children. Scenes over and over, not only of their own sins, but how their sins affected other people. The hurt they caused, how their words cut down and destroyed other people.

"If another soul ended up in this abyss because of their actions, they also were held responsible for that soul to an extent, which intensified their sufferings twofold, threefold, or however many souls were damned in part or completely because of them. Demons in the most hideous forms, some half animal, some looking more human, stood near the faces of certain souls screaming out at them from their pit in the wall.

"These demons grabbed the faces of those tortured and suffering souls and pried open their mouths with their claws, so wide that it ripped the flesh along the sides of their cheeks. They became white, like molten metal, as they screamed in horror. The demons shoved them deeper into their slim fitting pit of torture, as they hurled hideous insults at them. But one niche was empty and standing in front of it was a horrible demon who pointed at me, cursing and laughing, then pointed to the empty niche. I knew immediately that this was reserved for me. I was overwhelmed with terror and I stepped back and screamed which only increased the obvious pleasure that horrible creature as he lunged at me.

"I clawed at my angel and attempted to flee, but was calmed down as he assured me that God's mercy had not only prevented me from staying here, but will also guard against any attack by any of the creatures in this place. As we continued further into this abyss, I saw a desolate looking wall lined with cells. In one particular cell was a horrific soul, diseased looking and completely filthy. This particular man while on earth manipulated, abused, and forced women into prostitution. I saw that he was a cruel taskmaster, he fed his women drugs, beat them frequently into submission until their bodies and their wills were completely broken.

"On earth he was complete in his cruelty and in his greed and was possessed by an insatiable lust. Here in his prison, he was forced to experience over and over again what he inflicted upon the women in his domain, only magnified to an unimaginable degree. He was continually mutilated by the most horrible creatures who mercilessly tore at his skin, ripping him apart from the crotch to the throat, exposing him to unbelievable ridicule and humiliation.

"Over and over again, each torture exceeding the former in its brutality and cruelty. Screaming endlessly for help, he let out guttural, ear piercing screams, pleading at his torturers, which only incensed their hatred and their cruelty toward their trapped victim. At the end of each torture, his body was reduced to mere bits and pieces. His body then returned to normal and his tortures began again.

"To explain it with words is nearly impossible. Each and every one of these souls in this place knew exactly why they were there. They saw very clearly the choices in their life that imprisoned them. You see, God doesn't put us into hell…we put ourselves there. Every soul at judgment sees with perfect clarity their life as God sees it… hey then judge themselves in His light. There is no rebuttal, there is no arguing with God, because their sinfulness before absolute Purity cries out their judgment you see?

"It is us, our actions, our unkind words, our cruelty, and ultimately our total rejection of God's grace that decides our fate. here is given to every soul, even up to the last moment of our lives, the choice of accepting God or rejecting Him. Souls in hell are those that reject Him, reject His love, reject His grace, and most importantly reject His mercy even to the very end! Even after they have seen Him and they hurl themselves into this abyss because it is worse for them to stand before Him, than to be in darkness!

"As we continued further down toward the center of hell, the noise and total confusion continued in its escalation the deeper we went, and the tortures inflicted on the souls became more and more gruesome. Quickly we descended until we reached what appeared to be the bottom of a huge pit which contained an immense cell. Its doors were as thick as they were tall and opened at the command of St. Michael. As the doors opened, a sickening smoke spewed out from its center enveloping all that was around us.

"My angel raised his hand and as we approached the cell, it was filled with a brilliant light. The walls were oozing and quivering with what appeared to be snakes and vermin of unearthly size, and they slithered and scurried away. In the center of this dungeon was a huge throne which was made entirely of gold and silver coins, bouillon and blocks, and although filthy and tarnished, it was heaped in piles forming a basic throne shape, and it was huge. At its base were the souls of humans, some with skin, some only bones, all in varying degrees of decay and covered with worms.

"When the bones were completely bare and all flesh had decayed or had been eaten by the worms, they immediately became covered in skin and it all started again, burning, rotting, digesting. These souls were completely immobile, and each moaned and quivered beneath the weight of this massive throne. From behind me, I felt a terrifying presence. A presence so completely evil and so full of hatred that I wanted to run, but terrified, I was frozen in place.

"I felt it approach me, with its hot breath flowing over the back of my neck. So complete was its hatred of me, that I felt this hatred weigh me down and cover me. I instinctively knew who this was and knew that he was permanent in his state. Not only could he not alter his destiny, he would never desire it, ever. His damnation was set forever and cemented in complete and total opposition to God. He hated completely all that God is, and therefore hated beyond words all God has created. In hell, he spews all of his hatred onto each and every one of those souls imprisoned in hell.

"These souls are constantly bombarded with it, and they are perpetually reminded that they could have had Heaven but instead chose hell. They remember the beauty of God, and now forever will be separated from it. They could have had Love, peace and complete happiness, and instead have lost it for all eternity. There are a vast number of levels of hell and each soul is sentenced according to its crimes. These tortures continue unabated and repeat over and over, carried out by millions upon millions of willing demons."

Alan paused in the telling of his story.  "I'm sorry," he said to our correspondent, who is writing a book about such experiences, and granted us permission to use this excerpt. "It was so overwhelming to witness and it can't really be fully explained."   

He leaned forward and adjusted himself in the bed.  (Then continued:)

"Nothing can describe [the evil presence] because he resembles nothing of this earth. What I can't express enough is his hatred, and his hatred right then was directed completely at me. My soul was filled with an overwhelming, oppressive despair as I heard him mocking me, not out loud, but I could hear his filthy words within my mind. He proceeded to tell me why I belonged to him and every single sin that I had ever done. In my mind I tried to reassure myself with what the angels had told me earlier, when another accusation was hurled at me with increasing rapidity and force.  His cunning and vulgar voice accused me and filled me with such despair that I begged my guides to take me away which only escalated his mocking of me, one after another, after another.

"Michael raised his hand, which stopped Satan's attack on me, and in a thunderous, majestic voice Michael shouted, 'Enough!  All has been forgiven him!' A bright light emanated from my guides, growing brighter and brighter as I saw Satan cowering to get away from it. He started howling, hurling blasphemies at us with such a thunderous roar that the walls of this dungeon should have been shattered. Quickly and forcefully we flew out of that pit, back through the path that we had come through and back through the gates of that awful place.

"The gates slammed shut and the huge bolts were rammed forcefully into their former position, enclosing its inhabitants forever. We flew upward, rocketing at an ever-increasing speed and I could hear Satan's blasphemous screams slowly diminishing. Then, instantly we were out of that horrible place and back into the Light, far away from the heat and the stench of hell. I was so thankful to be out of that cesspool of filth, that I wept.

"Clinging to my guardian angel, I thanked him for taking me out of there. We came to a stop and Michael turned to me and said, 'You have only seen a small glimpse of the horrors of hell. Do not forget it!' With that my guides disappeared and I was hurled again, this time on my own through a very tight tunnel, growing smaller and smaller until it felt as though I was completely crushed. I opened my eyes and was lying on my back with a tube in my mouth. Doctors and nurses surrounded me, telling me that they were going to remove my breathing tube.

"My head spun and my chest was in horrific pain as I attempted to breathe. I was confused and frightened and was unable to move my arms or legs. In this confusion, I thought since I couldn't move, maybe I had been shoved into my hole in the wall of hell. I became frantic and tried with everything I had to wiggle out of what was holding my arms and legs. Then I heard my doctor's voice explaining again to relax, that the surgery was over and that they were going to remove my breathing tube. I realized then that I was on earth, in the hospital and I was never so happy to be here and not in hell.  

"Nothing about my life is the same," he allegedly said in conclusion, "and it changed the minute my breathing tube was out. I asked for a priest to come as soon as possible. I was frantic and told the nurses that they had to hurry and get me a priest. No priest was available until the next day and that night I didn't sleep a wink. I hadn't been to Confession since grade school and hadn't been to Mass since I was in high school.  

"When the priest arrived the next day, I asked him to hear my Confession. I fumbled with the words, not knowing how to begin, but he patiently talked me through it. It took three hours but I confessed it all. After I got out of the hospital, and after I recovered and got my strength back, I sat my wife down and I apologized to her for everything. Then I went to each one of my children, all grown, some with children of their own, and I apologized to them because I had completely failed them.  At first they thought I had gone mad, but eventually they did forgive.  We are very close now, and I've tried every day to show them how much I love them.  It took Regina a long time to forgive, because I was so rotten to her all of our married life that she didn't trust I had really changed. Eventually she did forgive and we've been together fifty years now. Yes, she took this old sinner back and God be praised for that!"  

He raised his left hand and twirled his wedding band around with his thumb.  

"I've spent every moment since then making it up to her and to Jesus. I pray all the time, all day long and I go every single day to Mass and Communion. Regina and I are better now than we've ever been, and now we're dealing with this cancer. She's having a difficult time accepting this, so much more than me. I know this disease has run its course and I know where I'm headed -- I know I'm dying. I long for the day but can't really share that with Regina, but I tell you I can't wait!"  

He smiled over at the nurse.  

"It's quite a tale isn't it? I can't tell you how many times I've told it, and every single time I can't stop the tears, because I almost didn't make it. I almost ended up in that horrible place, and rightly so. But Jesus, in one act of unbelievable and undeserved Mercy changed it all. I know that no matter what, people need to realize that nothing is unforgivable because Jesus is bigger than any sin. But He can't forgive if we are unwilling to ask for forgiveness." 

Alan reached over and squeezed her hand. "All we have to do is to love.  If you love, He smiles…it's so simple. Difficult some days but simple."  

Said our correspondent: "Alan continued to decline as the bleeding from his bladder continued. Never once did I ever hear him complain.  One April evening, I arrived at work and immediately went in to check on him. He was drenched in sweat and a sickly grey pale. We wiped him down and changed his linens and his gown.  When we were finished, he looked up at me and whispered, 'It's almost over. I feel Jesus coming.' I leaned over and hugged him, heartbroken that my friend was dying. Alan smiled up at me and said, 'Remember…it's very simple.'  Alan died peacefully at three a.m., surrounded by his wife and children."

[See also: Retreats: Los Angeles and Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara; and Louisiana]

[Michael Brown's books]

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