Published August 19, 2014
"To Hell And Back"
Occasionally, we'll hear dramatic testimonies from individuals who have physically died, have "seen" heaven or hell, and then have been revived enabling them to share their testimonies. Such testimonies have had a profoundly positive effect on many people whose faith has been strengthened or they've found faith for the first time. But such testimonies are often criticized, and one denomination recently condemned such reports as doubtful because, they said, everything we need to know about the afterlife can be found in the Bible.
While I certainly agree with the last part of that argument, I don't think we can dismiss such accounts out-of-hand because who would want to limit God and the way He can work in individual lives today? And it's especially true when the individual involved is someone you know.
For example, consider John McCall of the trio Steve Hess & Southern Salvation. Some weeks ago you heard on my broadcast a very abbreviated version of his life-changing testimony. I asked him later to share additional details that we didn't have time for on the broadcast, and he graciously sent me his amazing testimony.
John grew up with Christian parents in the Assemblies of God church. But when he hit about thirteen years of age he turned away from everything he had learned growing up. Two different relatives had molested him when he was just 9 years of age. "That is when my rebellion started, because I could not understand how a loving God would ever allow this to happen if He was really alive and real... That is when the drug addictions started and I really started not to believe in God, heaven or hell and decided to start a rock band to make my parents mad." Worldly success followed with a successful rock band in Chicago and offers to fly to New York City for a major label record deal.
John told his mother he "did not want anything to do with her, church or God." As he recalls, he had "played church for 17 years of my life and was a hypocritical jerk. I had lost hope and faith..."
But just three days after confronting his mother in 1989, tragedy struck. John was riding his motorcycle when "a drunk 16 year old pulled out in front of me, trying to make a left turn, and just stopped. I flew off her windshield into a Cube truck that hit me 50 feet back over the scene at this busy intersection. It dislocated my left hip and severed my bones in my right wrist. The ambulance lost me a few times on the way to the hospital and the doctors at the hospital gave up on me after 45 minutes of unsuccessful attempts to get my heart back to normal."
Medically, John was soon dead. Doctors "called" him -- pronounced him dead. Absolutely ... physically ... dead.
The doctor summoned John's mother and father into the room, shook his head, pulled his surgical mask down and told them to say goodbye. John's mother, though, wasn't ready for that. Speaking in faith, she boldly told the doctor, "But you did not pray." So, "My mom prayed over me for one hour after [doctors] had given up on what medical procedures they could have done. I had a mom with a direct line to God! Thank God for praying moms and thank God for second chances!"
Obviously, since John is telling the story, he's alive today. And the Lord graciously and purposefully enabled him to remember much of what he experienced during the hour when he was medically, legally dead. Here's John's amazing account:
"I ended up in the pit of hell the day I died, because that is what I deserved. While standing in complete darkness, every now and then I could see bodies just slamming into each other right in front of me. I felt complete loneliness and emptiness like I never did before, and the smell of sulphur was beyond disgusting! In the moments to come, everything I had done bad in my life would torment me for what seemed like forever.
"It was at that time that Christ Jesus appeared to me in the pit of hell, and I fell to my knees in fear. Christ Jesus opened His arms and spoke these words to me: My child, I have given you the keys to my Kingdom and you have lost them along the way. You know the truth, yet you still deny everything you know to be of my Father. With everything you have learned, this is where you belong. But I have other plans for you, John. You will tell the world of My truth Heaven and Hell and its existence. You were chosen before time to be a witness of Truth, but you did not know because of your disobedience to my call. Your time has come to be that witness. I have loved you before time, and now I will be coming back for my children very soon.'
"It was at this point that Christ stood me up to my feet and allowed me to feel a pain, an emptiness, a feeling I will never forget. Christ then put His arms around me and told me, Go and sin no more. I love you as I love all my children. I have the Keys and your voice and testimony is my gift to you. Now go and use your talents for Me and tell the world. Live every second of your life for my glory, not yours. Be a light where it is dark and share My love, My mercy and My grace. For there is a day coming quickly when the Earth will know My wrath and My protection will be no more.'
"With His hands on my head and on my chest, Christ told me, I love you, John.' That is when my breath came back into my earthly body and I gave that [attending] nurse the scare of her life!"
John says that since his encounter with Christ, he's told his story to every doctor he encounters. And, because he was brain-dead at the time (no oxygen to his brain for an hour), they always say something to this effect: "There's no way you could have just dreamed that."
As you can imagine, this first-hand experience, however you choose to understand it, was so powerful that it changed John's life radically and completely. "I will never forget that day ever! That was the wake-up call' I needed to change my thought process. Christ Jesus, His Word...the Truth and everything that is written was NOT just some fairytale people believed. Christ Jesus, Heaven, Hell and His Word are as real as the device you are reading this testimony on right now!!! He is alive and well!"
Today John shares his testimony whenever he can, and countless souls have been touched by John's encounter and the truth it was meant to emphasize. Many have come to Christ as a result.
I didn't ask John specifically, but I don't think he'd want you to have to go through what he went through to accept the Lord's call on your life. So, consider carefully, prayerfully what does the Lord want you to do for Him?
PS: After the above was published, John McCall responded to my last paragraph and added the following:
"Thank you, Paul! Yes, you are very correct in saying that I would never want anyone to have to go through what I have been through. But God knew that it was the only thing that would cause me to come back Home to Him. I had so many regrets and so many things that I did wrong back then... Christ saved me when I could not save myself. Christ stepped in when I had truly lost my way, and I now thank Him daily for all the pain I went through. It is nothing compared to what he did for us all. 25 years later, I still have reminders of what He did for me. My wrist still pains, and my hip still hurts, but it's a reminder to me of what Christ did for me."
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