Lauren Windle had always been sceptical of “near-death” divine revelation, especially when she was asked by a tabloid newspaper to cover two stories in particular. But when she asked her vicar about the credibility of these fantastical tales, she was blown away by his response… and then she fell down a rabbit hole of research.
I was recently asked by a tabloid newspaper to write up the story of two people’s experiences of being declared medically dead before coming back to life. One reported that she saw a dear deceased friend who encouraged her that things would be fine before she was revived by medics and returned to life on Earth. The other, said she’d seen Jesus.
Betty Eadie, now 78, explained that she died on the operating table while having surgery and was brought back to life. Speaking on the American show Inside Edition TV, Betty said: “I was in the recovery room and suddenly felt every drop of blood had drained from my body and then this sensation of my spirit coming out of body at tremendous speed. I looked down and saw my body lying on the bed. I knew I had died and thought: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m dead’.”
She then described how she saw three “really ancient men” who confirmed for her that she had died. She then “flew” out of the window to see her family. Betty said: “My husband was sitting in the armchair and I stood next to him, I was concerned because he didn’t know I had died, nor had my children, and I was worried for all of them. But then I was given a glimpse into their futures and saw they’d all lead good lives.”
“I looked down and saw my body lying on the bed. I knew I had died and thought: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m dead’.”
She then described going into a dark tunnel and said that she was met by a figure at the end of it. “It was Jesus Christ,” she said. “He hugged me and said, it’s not yet your time. Then three women - angels - appeared and Jesus told them, show her everything she needs to know, and I was taken to the most beautiful garden I’d ever seen, like nothing I’d ever seen on Earth. The angels then took me around every planet and then Jesus told me I had to go back to Earth but I didn’t want to. Then the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen appeared and it was God and he told me I had to go back and I saw my body and went back into it.”
Now, call me a cynic, but I always wondered about these stories. In the back of my mind, I’ve often assumed that these are the visions from people in desperate situations that shouldn’t be given much weight. But intrigued by Betty’s version of events, I messaged my vicar, the wise owl, and asked if he thought any of these types of stories offered a credible insight into the afterlife. He replied: “I’ve heard a handful, all second or third hand. They have a significant degree of credibility and I’d give them a fair degree of weight. I’m also struck, tangentially, by the many members of the medical profession that are far less cynical than one might have assumed.”
Suddenly the accounts I had previously written off as batty tabloid-fodder, were looking far more interesting. After a quick Google, the owl is right on the medical professionals. Physician, researcher and founder of the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, Dr Jeffrey Long wasn’t surprised by Betty’s story at all. He said: “A common theme for anyone who dies for a short time is the shining light and out of body experience. Many tell of meeting up with relatives and even pets who have died. Yet all of this is impossible because when you die you your brain dies, so this is difficult to explain.”
“From the darkness I began to hear men’s voices screaming at me telling me to ‘shut up’ - ‘that I deserved to be there’ - ‘that I was in Hell’.”
One of the accounts that the wise owl directed me to was that of the “Jellyfish Man”, Ian McCormack. Ian was a 26-year-old atheist when he was fatally stung by jellyfish in Mauritius and was dead for 20 minutes. As he was dying he experienced a vision of his mother praying for him to call out to God which he did. When he had passed away he said he found himself in hell. Ian said: “I found myself in a very dark place, not realising where I was. So I tried to find a light switch, thinking I was still in the hospital - but as I reached out into the dark I couldn’t touch anything. Reaching to touch my face I found my hand go straight through it. It seemed so bizarre, as I knew I was standing there but couldn’t touch any part of my physical body.”
He continued: “From the darkness I began to hear men’s voices screaming at me telling me to ‘shut up’ - ‘that I deserved to be there’ - ‘that I was in Hell’. I couldn’t believe it, but as I stood there a radiant beam of light shone through the darkness and immediately began to lift me upward.” Ian then explained that he was taken to a tunnel with the light of heaven at the end of it. He said: “I could feel a wave of warmth and comfort flood my soul … it was incredible. This light wasn’t just physical but was giving off a living emotion.”
“I could feel a wave of warmth and comfort flood my soul … it was incredible. This light wasn’t just physical but was giving off a living emotion.”
He explained that he met God who showed him heaven and asked him if he wanted to go in or to return to Earth but said that he “needed to find a new light” if he wanted to continuing living. He woke up in the hospital after 20 minutes dead to a very startled doctor and heard God’s call to read the Bible and follow him, and that’s what Ian’s done ever since.
It’s a brilliant story and one that’s worth reading in full on his website. So much so that I’m starting to believe that these tale could be encouragements to our faith rather than just amusing anecdotes. Have you heard a near-death testimony of salvation? We’d love to hear it, email us on email@example.com.