Don Piper: 90 Minutes in Heaven
By The 700 Club
Don Piper did not know that January 18, 1989 would be his last day on Earth. He was on his way home from the Trinity Pines Conference Center eighty miles north of Houston. Don was going to preach at his church that evening.
Ten minutes after he left the conference center he drove on a bridge across Lake Livingston. An eighteen wheel truck came from the opposite direction, smashed into his Ford Escort, and killed him. Don was pronounced dead by four sets of EMTs. Shortly after the accident,
Dick Onerecker, a pastor, arrived on the scene and asked if he could pray for the man in the accident. The officer told Dick no – the man under the tarp is deceased. But, Dick continued to insist on praying for the man. Finally Dick was given permission, but warned that the body was badly mangled.
The Lord impressed upon Don to pray specifically for no head or internal injuries. While Dick prayed fervently, Don was experiencing the glories of Heaven. But, just as suddenly as he had arrived at the gates of Heaven, he left them.
In his first moment of consciousness back on Earth, Don recalls singing along with Dick, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” But, his time in Heaven did not take away from his earthly suffering. He had a long road back to health that lay ahead of him.
“Pain became my constant companion. For a long time I would not know what it was like not to hurt all over my body,” recalls Don. Miraculously he had no head or internal injuries. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital with painful treatments and physical disabilities.
To date, Don has had 34 surgical procedures. His ability to walk is nothing short of a miracle. “Sometimes I still ask God why I wasn’t allowed to stay in Heaven. I have no answer to that question. I have learned, however, that God brings people into my life that need me or need to hear my message,” says Don.
90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN
Don remembers driving on the bridge and the next moment he recalls standing in Heaven. “It (Heaven) was perfect, and I knew I had no needs and never would again,” says Don. The light, texture, embraces, beauty, hues and tones surpassed anything he had ever seen."
"From the celestial greeting committee, to the swoosh of angels wings, and the myriads of sounds," Don says. "Heaven was like a first-class buffet for the senses. It felt more real than anything he had ever experienced before."
Since his brief trip to Heaven, Don says he has thought about that wonderful place many times. “Not a single day has passed in which I haven’t felt an intense longing to be back in that celestial city where I heard the most perfect music and had total inner peace. “
After his accident, Don says his perspective changed on many things including Heaven. Although he had read about Heaven in the Bible and heard sermons on it, everything changed when he experienced it.
“Heaven ceased to be a possibility for me and became a reality. Heaven is now my reality, not the life I now live on Earth,” shares Don. He loves his life here with family and friends, but since the accident he now lives closer to the heavenly reality. “I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to be at the gates of Heaven. It was an incredible gift that profoundly impacted my life then and continues to impact me just as strongly today,” says Don.
In his new book, Getting to Heaven, Don wants to show believers how to have a fulfilled and abundant life on Earth as they prepare for Heaven. He focuses on the final hours Jesus spent with his disciples. John’s Gospel, chapters 13 to 17, devotes five chapters to describing the events of Jesus’ life, beginning the night before his betrayal by Judas.
These are the things that Jesus wanted to say to his followers so he could prepare and equip them to fulfill his plan for them after he was gone. Don draws from the principles that Jesus provided for the small group of followers in the upper room to help others prepare for their own departure from Earth. He shares some of his “departing instructions” below:
- Demonstrate love for others. Seek ways to show your affection for them.
- Become a servant. Part of learning to become a servant is to do for others, but it’s also allowing others to do for you.
- Love the unlovable. Reach out to those who don’t deserve love. Treat them as your close friends.
- Forgive those who have wronged you.
- Follow Jesus – regardless of the obstacles and the fears.
- Don’t worry – accept God’s peace.
- Study the Bible. Learn more about Jesus to strengthen your own life.
- Pray so that your petitions and desires bring honor to God.
- Ask for guidance. The Holy Spirit wants to lead you and often waits for you to ask.
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