I gave my heart to the Lord and was born again the very first night I became bedfast. That was Saturday, April 22, 1933 at 7:40 p.m. in the south bedroom of 405 North College Street in McKinney, Texas. Earlier that evening, my heart had stopped beating and the spiritual man who lives in my body had departed. When death seized my body, my grandmother, my younger brother, and my mother were sitting in the room. I had time only to tell them “goodbye.” Then the inner man rushed out of my body and left my body lying dead, with eyes set and flesh cold. I went down, down, down until the lights of the earth faded away. I don’t mean I fainted – I don’t mean I was unconscious – I have proof that I was actually dead. My eyes were set, my heart had stopped beating, and my pulse had ceased.
The Scriptures tell us about the lost being cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30). The farther down I went, the blacker it became, until it was all blackness – I could not have seen my hand if it had been one inch in front of my eyes. And the farther down I went, the hotter and more stifling it became.
Finally, far below me, I could see lights flickering on the walls of the caverns of the damned. The lights were caused by the fires of Hell. The giant, white-crested orb of flame pulled me, drawing me as a magnet draws metal to itself. I did not want to go, but just as metal jumps to the magnet, my spirit was drawn to that place. I could not take my eyes off of it. The heat beat me in the face. Many years have gone by, yet I can see it just as clearly today as I saw it then. It is as fresh in my memory as if it just happened.
I came to the entrance of Hell. People ask, “What does the entrance of Hell look like?” I cannot describe it, because if I tried, I would have to have something with which to compare it. (Similarly, if a person had never seen a tree in his life, it would be impossible to tell him what a tree looks like.) Coming to the entrance, I paused momentarily, because I did not want to go in. I sensed that one more foot, one more step, one more yard, and I would be gone forever and would not come out of that horrible place! Upon reaching the bottom of the pit, I became conscious of some kind of spirit being by my side. I had not looked at him, because I could not take my gaze off of the fires of Hell. But when I paused, the creature laid his hand on my arm to escort me in.
At that same moment, a voice spoke from far above the blackness, above the earth, and above the heavens. I don’t know if it was the voice of God, Jesus, an angel, or who. I did not see him, and I do not know what he said, because he did not speak in English; he spoke in some other tongue. When he spoke, his words reverberated throughout the region of the damned, shaking it like a leaf in the wind, and causing the creature to take his hand off my arm. I did not turn around, but an unseen power, like suction, pulled me up, away from the fire, away from the heat, and back into the shadows of the absorbing darkness.
I began to ascend until I came to the top of the pit and saw the lights of the earth. I saw my grandparents’ home, went through the wall back into my bedroom, and it was just as real to me as it was any time I had entered through the door (my spirit needed no door). I slipped back into my body as easily as a man slips into his trousers in the morning. It was the same way in which I had gone out – through my mouth. I began to talk to my grandmother. She said, “Son, I thought you were dead.”
My great-grandfather had been a medical doctor, and Granny had worked with him. She later told me, “I dressed many people for burial and laid them out in days gone by. I have had much experience with death, but I learned more about death in dealing with you and your experiences than I ever knew before. You were dead. You had no pulse or heartbeat, and your eyes were set.”
“Granny,” I said, “I am going again. I am dying. Where is Momma?” “Your mother is out on the porch,” she replied. And about that time I heard my mother praying at the top of her voice as she walked up and down the porch. “Where is my brother?” I asked. “He ran next door to call the doctor,” Granny answered. If you’re not ready to go, you want somebody with you. You’re afraid! I said, “Granny, don’t leave me! Don’t leave me! I’m afraid I’ll go while you’re gone! I want somebody with me! Don’t leave me!” So she gathered me into her arms again. I said, “Tell Momma I said goodbye. Tell Momma I love her. Tell Momma I appreciate everything she has ever done for me and for all of us. And you tell Momma that I said if I’ve ever put a wrinkle in her face, or a grey hair in her head, I’m sorry, and I ask her to forgive me.” I felt myself slipping. I said, “Granny, I’m going again. You were a second mother to me when Momma’s health failed. I appreciate you. Now I’m going, and I won’t be back this time. “I knew I was dying, unprepared to meet God. I kissed her on the cheek and said goodbye.
My heart stopped beating for the second time. It’s almost as real to me today, nearly half a century later, as it was that day. I felt the blood cease to circulate. The tips of my toes went numb – then my feet, ankles, knees, hips, stomach, and heart. I leaped out of my body and began to descend: down, down, down. Oh, I know it was just a few seconds, but it seemed like an eternity. I began to descend again into the darkness until the lights of earth had faded. Down below, the same experience occurred. The voice spoke from Heaven and again my spirit came up out of that place – back into my room and back into my body. The only difference this time was that I came up at the foot of the bed. I began to talk to Granny again. I said, “I will not be back this time, Granny.” I asked, “Where is Grandpa? I want to tell Grandpa goodbye.” She said, “Son, you know your Granddad went down to the east part of town to collect rent off of some of his rent houses.”
“Oh,” I said, “I remember that now. I just forgot momentarily.” I said, “Granny, tell Grandpa goodbye. I’ve never known what it means to have a daddy. He’s been the nearest to a daddy I’ve known. He gave me a home when I had none. Tell him I appreciate him. Tell him I love him. Tell Grandpa that I said goodbye.” Then I left a word for my sister and two brothers, and my heart stopped for the third time. I could feel the circulation as it cut off again – and I leaped out of my body and began to descend.
Until this time, I had thought, this is not happening to me. This is just a hallucination. It can’t be real! But now I thought, this is the third time. I won’t come back this time! Darkness encompassed me ’round about, darker than any night man has ever seen.
I wish I had adequate words to describe the horrors of Hell. People go through this life so complacently, so unconcerned, as if they will not have to face Hell. But God’s Word and my own personal experience tell me differently. I know what it is to be unconscious – it is black when you are unconscious – but there is no blackness to compare with outer darkness.
As I began to descend in the darkness this third time, my spirit cried out, “God, I belong to the church! I’ve been baptized in water!” I waited for Him to answer, but no answer came – only the echo of my own voice as it came back to mock me. It will take more than church membership – it will take more than being baptized in water – to miss Hell and make Heaven. Jesus said, …. Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Certainly I believe in being baptized in water – but only after a person is born again. Certainly I believe in joining the church – but only after a person is born again. If you merely join the church and are baptized in water without being born again, you will go to Hell! The second time I cried a little louder, “God! I belong to the church! I’ve been baptized in water!” Again I waited for an answer, but there was no answer, only the echo of my own voice through the darkness.
It would frighten a congregation out of their wits if I ever imitated the way I screamed the third time, although, if I could scare them out of Hell and into Heaven, I’d do it! I literally screamed, “GOD! GOD! I BELONG TO THE CHURCH! I’VE BEEN BAPTIZED IN WATER!” And all I heard was the echo of my own voice. I came again to the bottom of that pit. Again I could feel the heat as it beat me in the face. Again I approached the entrance, the gates into Hell itself. That creature took me by the arm. I intended to put up a fight if I could to keep from going in. I only managed to slow down my descent just a little, and he took me by the arm.
Thank God that voice spoke. I don’t know who it was – I didn’t see anybody – I just heard the voice. I don’t know what he said, but whatever he said, that place shook; it just trembled. And that creature took his hand off my arm. It was just as if there was a suction to my back parts. It pulled me back, away from the entrance to Hell, until I stood in the shadows. Then it pulled me up headfirst. As I was going up through the darkness, I began to pray. My spirit, the man who lives inside this physical body, is an eternal being, a spirit man. I began to pray, “0 God! I come to You in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse me from all sin.” I came up beside the bed.
The difference between the three experiences was that I came up on the porch the first time; I came up at the foot of the bed the second time; and I came up right beside the bed the third time. When I got inside my body, my physical voice picked up and continued my prayer right in the middle of the sentence. I was already praying out of my spirit. Now, we didn’t have all the automobiles in 1933 that we have today – that was in the Depression. But they tell me that between me and Momma praying so loud, traffic was lined up for two blocks on either side of our house! They heard me praying from inside the house, and they heard my mother as she walked the porch praying at the top of her voice.
I looked at the clock and saw it was 20 minutes before 8 o’clock. That was the very hour I was born again due to the mercy of God through the prayers of my mother. I felt wonderful – it was just like a two-ton weight had rolled off of my chest. Although I was rejoicing and was happy in my spirit – although I felt wonderful spiritually – I felt no better physically. The doctors had been called, and they told my family that I was going to die. I thought I would die that night, but it no longer bothered me. I knew I was ready to go. My experience of being brought back from the dead is not new. Jesus raised three people from the dead: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son. The Apostle Peter raised Dorcas from the dead; the Apostle Paul raised a young man from the dead; and others throughout Church history have had similar experiences.
Through my experience, God brought me to knowledge of salvation, which is the best thing in the world to know. I was so thankful to know that my heart was right with God, and to know that if I should die before morning I would go, to be with Him.
From the book I believe in visions written by Kenneth Hagin.
IMPORTANT NOTE. I want you to know that I don’t accept every thing that Kenneth Hagin writes in his book I Believe in Visions (for example, I don’t accept the fact that he says that angels are waiting for our commands). Furthermore, I don’t accept several things he teaches on prosperity and health, for I reject the so called ‘prosperity message’, and I don’t accept his ‘holy laughter’ for I consider it a carnal and diabolic manifestation. There are other teachings taught by Hagin that I reject. Of course, the fact that at a certain point of his life Kenneth Hagin accepted strange and diabolical teachings did not bring him honor nor did it bring praise to God, for I firmly believe that his false teachings have discredited seriously his ministry. However, I firmly believe that what he says about his death-experience is true and cannot be refuted at all, because it is confirmed by the Scripture.