from the gates of hell to the door of splendour
This is a True Story It is comprised of several other different stories, all of which are related to each other and fit into a composite pattern that is amazing. I have tried to put them all into logical order, which is difficult, because some of them happened simultaneously but as you read, you will see this pattern take shape in such a way it reveals the love of God revealed in the midst of the realities of life. I have shared this story so you will be blessed.
Wednesday 30th January 2002 was a strange day for me from the moment I awoke. I felt strangely disturbed and paced my home like a caged tiger, simply unable to settle down properly to anything.
Praying did not produce any answer and I retired early that evening to fall into a fitful sleep.
My wife Marjorie followed some time later and unintentionally woke me. She commented that I looked strange, asking if there was anything wrong, or if I felt ill. I felt quite well but was in some way very unsettled.
The next morning was not very different. Marge woke late at approximately 9:30 and felt an almost immediate compulsion to turn on our mobile telephone and place it next to me at my desk. We rarely used it then, using it mostly when absent or for emergencies. Within mere seconds, it started to ring. It was my son Robert and was the first of a series of such calls.
Robert told me that my other son Gary was seriously ill in the Intensive Care Unit of the general hospital where he lived almost a thousand miles away. My son in law Scott telephoned me saying that it was very serious and that Gary had collapsed with a cardiac arrest and complications. My daughter Karen lived almost a thousand miles in the other direction and left a similar text message on the mobile to call her urgently, to which I replied.
As a result, Marge and I immediately turned to the Lord for help, asking how serious this was and what should we do. His instant answer to each of us was, "Go up" so I booked a seat on the first available flight to go to my son.
Marjorie was unable to go with me and started to help me pack as I sent Email prayer requests to my Christian family throughout the world. I also telephoned the prayer support offices of ministries with whom we are in partnership, asking for prayer support. This support was wonderfully received. Thank you to all my dear friends for your prayers and support and messages of love. As members of a most wonderful Family, it is our privilege to be knitted together in a common bond. When one member of the Family suffers, we all feel it together and it is a truly wonderful thing.
There was only one flight available in such a short time. Robert tried to get on that flight with me, but for some reason he was advised that there were no seats available and had to wait till the next flight several hours later. Strangely, there were many empty seats.
During the time I was packing and getting ready, we started declaring God's word and standing on what I regarded as a personal promise that I had been holding to for many years. This is a very important part of the whole story. Isaiah is most likely one of my favourite books in the bible. I like it so much because it speaks often about Jesus and because the Lord has spoken so much to me personally through the pages of this statesman prophet. Isaiah 54:10 sets the stage for one of these very important promises, saying-
The Lord and I had established a covenant some twenty or more years before, in which he made a most wonderful promise to me regarding my family. I often quoted such scriptures in prayer and thanksgiving, desiring to see at least one of my children serving God and for some unknown reason declared that my son Gary would become a preacher. The passage I had been holding fast to says-
I kept speaking this portion of God's word and thanking him for it, continually saying, He shall live and not die, with the belief that God is faithful and honours his word. I stood on his statement-
When I arrived at the hospital, the doctors took me into an interview room and explained the situation. The prognosis was not good. They then permitted Gary's mother, his sister Lenore and myself into the Intensive Care Unit to see my son.
I held his hand and stroked and kissed his forehead often and spoke the words the Lord told me to say when in the aircraft, repeatedly quoting the scripture passages that were so dear to me.
I quietly whispered as the Lord instructed. "Gary, this is your father here. I love you. I have always loved you. I never stopped loving you and I will always love you".
Marjorie told me before I left home to speak to my son. She said that he would hear every word I said, even when in a coma, which is often the case. If you are in attendance in such circumstances, please be careful how you conduct yourself, especially with your speech. They really are more aware of things than most of us realize. She was insistent upon it. She said that I might not witness any external signs of response, but assured me that he would be able to hear me.
Although not new to crisis situations, I had not seen anyone in such a severe comatose situation like this before.
Strangely, I did not remember her telling me anything about this before I left. That is not unusual, because when one is in a crisis situation like this, the natural memory may not recall everything said and done, but one's spirit does and it is the spirit of man that is the most important ingredient in our lives. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, seen in Proverbs 20:27
It was so with my son Gary. God's word is true and you will see later how this worked!
Most times the family and medical staff were present. I prayed softly and discreetly in the spirit and called to him to rally round with, "Come on Gary. Come out of this" messages as I spoke God's word. Even under such circumstances, God was kind and I was able to testify to the medical staff about His goodness, recounting stories of how God had remarkably healed Gary when he was a child.
When Gary was in his first year of school, he contracted an illness that mystified the medical experts. Admitted to hospital in acute agony, Gary was placed in a plaster cast from his waist to his calf on the left side of his body.
At that time I was not saved, although I was deeply involved in a Church of England (Episcopalian) lifestyle. An itinerant evangelist was holding a long series of meetings and some friends invited me to attend. One day they approached me, requesting permission for prayers for my son and I readily agreed. To cut a long story short, the Lord miraculously healed Gary.
Several nights later, I kept my promise to attend the meetings and arrived on the very last night of the very last crusade of this man who resigned this position shortly thereafter.
During the opening hymn, Jesus stepped into my life. My conversion experience was similar in many ways to Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road. It was that bright light I saw which was the catalyst that changed my life and eternal destiny forever and I am so grateful to my Lord that He did what He did.
In a manner of speaking therefore, Gary was an instrument used by the Lord to bring his own father into the Kingdom of God. That was on 1 September 1968.
On another occasion a few years later, Gary was saved from certain death by accidental poisoning and the Lord preserved him then. Now, in a hospital environment over thirty years later, I was standing beside my son who was in a coma. He gave no indications of life other than his supported breathing and various instrument readouts. His left eye was closed and his right eye was half open.
Suddenly, I found myself completely alone with him. This was the opportunity I waited for and again repeated the words the Lord told me to say, "Gary, my son. I love you. I have always loved you and I will always love you", holding his hand as I kissed his forehead and rested my cheek against his.
His right eyelid suddenly opened fully. His left eyelid fluttered slightly and fully opened. I do not remember how long they remained opened, but it was as if he suddenly stared at something...
Some of the instruments gave a sudden beeping sound and several of the graphical displays seemed to take a sudden wild surging and then everything returned back to their original state. I remember seeing a digital readout that had been hovering around the 65% mark, suddenly switch to 84% and then return to the previous readings.
The doctors had advised me previously that this readout should be a minimum of 80%. I did not know the purpose of this particular instrument then, but it certainly caught my attention.
Shortly after this, I returned to the waiting room for some time and my son in law suddenly stood up looking at his mobile telephone saying, "Robert's here" and went to the elevator. Robert’s flight landed at 9:20PM. I followed him and we met Robert in the lobby and returned. As we exited the elevator, some of those present were standing outside the waiting room calling out urgently, "Hurry. Run. Run" and I ran down the corridor and straight into the ICU.
A few moments later at 9:30PM, my dear son Gary died.
We returned to my daughter's home in obvious distress. I went straight to my bedroom feeling slightly ill and numbed and spent a fitful night. Unable to sleep, I lay there crying and poured out my grief to the Lord. I simply could not understand what had happened.
I recalled Isaiah 59 which said-
This and those passages like Isaiah 54 now seemed remote. For a while it seemed that those precious promises I had been holding to all those many years were unfulfilled, but I knew that God cannot and does not fail.
Sometime in what seemed to be an eternity of a night, God spoke so sweetly and gently to my heart, dispelling the grief, turning my mourning into joy and my tears into rejoicing and worship. "Robert", he said, "I did not fail you. I did not let you down. I kept my promise. Gary is here with me right now'. He paused momentarily and continued, "and your mother is here beside him".
At that moment, I had a fleeting picture of Gary. He looked so beautiful. His looked as if he was a young man of just twenty years of age in the prime of life. His skin was clean and clear and almost shining or glowing as if he had just come out of an invigorating shower. He had fair hair, almost white. My mother went home when she was 91 years of age and she looked radiant also. She looked like a young woman in her 30's.
The Lord said, "I'll let you see him sometime" and the scene faded.
Oh, what Joy. What a wonderful saviour. He excitedly said to me, "Gary just made it! He's home"! Truly, it's not over 'til it’s over!
I had so many questions on my heart and before I could even voice them, He answered. That also is one of His wonderful promises. He said-
It was so important to me, because I wanted him to live for the Lord. I had often prayed for my children crying for their salvation and interceding for them, desperately calling out, "I don't want them to go to Hell". I had felt disappointed because I had a desire to see my children serving the Lord.
I must now relate something that happened to my wife.
The Lord told her that He brought Gary back to life and kept him alive until I spoke those words to him. You may have noticed the time factors involved. That is no accident. He said that Gary saw into hell and was given what I must describe as a second chance.
He had been raised from childhood hearing the word of God, so the seed of the word finally brought forth fruit. The Lord told me, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over” and I had to take a serious look at certain aspects of my theology, revealing in a far greater way the depth of God’s love and mercy.
God is so good and faithful. He comforted me in an amazing way in the midst of that turmoil of emotions and said, "Those lights you saw in the airplane were angels coming in".
Interestingly, Marjorie reported something unusual. As she was sitting in a rear portion of our home at what we discovered was around the same time, our dog Tammy (a ten year old Rhodesian Ridgeback) suddenly woke up and started to get excited and wagging her tail furiously. She jumped up and ran to the front entrance and back again as if calling Marge to follow. She stood there at the door as if waiting for me to come home as excited as a little puppy. Marge opened the door. No one was there, but Tammy in obvious delight, seemed to be following someone as pleased as punch as he walked in. She was looking up as if at a person who was invisible to my wife.
She asked the Lord, "What was that all about"? The Lord replied, "I just sent you another angel".
He said that it was an angel that Tammy knew. Previously, I had not thought much about animals in Heaven, or of any possible association with them and animals, but Tammy certainly seemed to "know" this angel. Since that incident I witnessed similar behaviour from her myself and "felt" the presence of someone walking past on those occasions. I certainly know that angels are real, as I have seen many, but this was something comparatively new to me. We simply do not know what they did, but it was a wonderful and comforting thing to know.
The day after Gary died, Robert and I went to his unit with Lenore and her husband, to the unit where he lived. I had not seen it since Gary moved there and I broke down and cried when I saw it. The reason is because when Gary was born, his mother and I brought him home to a little home we were renting. It was a modest little place with a vacant piece of land behind and the units where Gary lived had been built on that vacant land.
Gary lived the last years of his life in one of those units. He came into the world and departed this world almost from the same location. I find that most interesting. Surely that cannot be a coincidence.
I am just an ordinary man, having feelings, attitudes and beliefs. I have emotions and have many fond memories. I can recall incidents that happened when Gary was a baby and on the odd occasion, as these memories flood in, a tear or a smile comes.
Yes, weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5) and I have wept over the sudden loss of my son, but there is an overall peace a calm assurance that he is in a far better place.
The Lord told Marjorie that Gary and I will have eternity to spend with each other and that we can talk together and get to know each other again in a different way. There is much we simply do not know and understand. We see in part, but there is a day coming when we will see with open faces with unveiled eyes, the beauty and majesty of our wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
My wife took me to the airport and farewelled me from the observation area as the aircraft took off. Another woman stood beside her and they engaged in a conversation. This woman's husband was a chaplain in the army and was embarking on a six-month tour of duty in Timor.
He was travelling on the same aircraft in full uniform and I saw him getting into a taxi after we landed, but I did not se him on the aircraft.
This woman had a most remarkable story. She told Marge about a young man from their church. He had been ill in hospital. They went there to pray for him and whilst they were there, he died. The doctors revived him. He told them that he had been to Heaven and was very excited and happy. He said that he only came back to tell others about Heaven and to thank everyone for praying for him. He was unmarried and had no one special in his life, so he said that there was nothing here to hold him. He said, "I've tasted Heaven and I'm going back" and remained long enough to share his experience and then he went back home. I can fully understand him, as I've also tasted Heaven and I long to go back!
She has a five-year old son who has had several visits to Heaven. He has described a fruit tree that produces fruit without skin or seeds that tastes wonderful. He shared how after picking one from the tree another fruit instantly appears in its place. I fully believe his story, because on one of my visits to Heaven, I saw the same type of fruit tree in the "back yard" in what I call my "country house". Apparently, I have three homes in Heaven. One is what I call my "town house", the other is this "country house" and the third is a sort of "high rise building" of most unusual colours, but this also is another story. See the web page “Heaven” that summarizes my visits there. It is an amazing and wonderful place
More amazingly is the story he tells of seeing a “nursery” in Heaven in which there are many children, who are tended by "nannies". He told his mother that he met a boy there, who was two years older than he and that this boy is called Joshua. Joshua came up to the lad and told him, "When you go back home, tell mummy that I love her and I forgive her".
This lady told Marge that she terminated a little boy and called him Joshua two years before she had her present son. She said that she fell to her knees in tears when her boy told her about Joshua, exclaiming how wonderful it is to know that there is someone in Heaven who loves her so much, has forgiven her and she doesn't even know him! She is even more thrilled to know that he is waiting for her.
A little five-year old boy simply cannot imagine such things and he knew absolutely nothing about his mother's past. I little boy cannot imagine seeing almost precisely some of the things I have seen and what other people have seen.
When I boarded the aircraft, there was a sense of urgency, yet a calm resolve with me. My prayers were many and varied. I asked God to give me strength to cope and to give strength to others. I prayed earnestly for my son in the spirit and in English and repeated the scripture promises over and over. At one time, tears started to flow and a cabin attendant gave me a most unusual look and kept looking strangely at me thereafter. When she served refreshments, there was a gentle smile on her face that seemed to say, "I understand. I am with you".
As the flight continued, a calm resolve came over me to spend time with my son and tell him that I loved him. The Lord had told me what to say to Gary and this is a very important aspect, which become evident in that hospital.
Whilst we were circling out to sea in a slightly hazy but otherwise clear and cloudless sky well away from the storm front, I watched the sea far below and observed several displays of what I can only describe as "circles' or "balls of light", appear in the air some distance from the aircraft. I am well accustomed to seeing natural phenomenon before, but these were completely different and unlike anything I've ever previously encountered.
I felt a sudden peace flow into my being and had the very strong sensation of someone standing to my left at the aisle. At the same time, I sensed movement next to me as if someone sat in one of the vacant seats beside me. I instinctively turned to look, expecting to see a member of the cabin crew, knowing all the time that they were still seated as per the captain's instructions, but no one was there. This peace was definitely not normal. Part of me was in obvious emotional turmoil, but there suddenly came a joy and a peace that brought a smile to my heart that may well have also appeared on my face.
The storm swept by in the distance and we resumed course, made our final approach and landed without incident.
Afterwards, I telephoned a pastor acquaintance of mine who I had not seen for over twenty years when we had co-ministered together in pioneering a church in a small town some distance away. He was a fellow traveller in that very same aircraft. Wanting to determine the authenticity of my sighting, I shared my experience in the aircraft. He had been seated above the wing area that would have of course partially restricted his vision, but the aircraft banked during its turns and he would have been able to see those lights during the turns. He said that he never saw anything. He boarded when I did from the same departure lounge and departed when I did, exiting from the only opened exit into the same arrival area. We were the only flight landing at the airport at that time and the number of passengers was comparatively small... small enough for at least one small glimpse of peoples' faces, but we never saw each other at any time.
This concludes the story of my son. It is one of several and I trust that by sharing it, you will be blessed and encouraged.
Remember that nothing is over until it is over. It was not over for my son Gary until it was all over and he went from the gates of hell to the door of splendour.
It can be the same for you. There is a prayer below. Please read it. Please say it aloud. Please say it from your heart. It is not "religious" but very real and extremely important. Your eternal destiny may depend on it. Jesus promised to return and He keeps His promises. He could come back while you are reading this message. It could be today, tomorrow or in some distant time, but He will come. We do not always know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.
I'd love for you to meet my son Gary one day. Would you like to?
I had the privilege of knowing him for a short time on this earth and am so grateful for that honour.
I will see my son again.
I will see my mother and father again.
I will see that nursery full of children and I will see that little boy called Joshua.
You too may be facing a crisis situation. You too may be facing the unknown, but let me tell you that there is hope there is always hope and our hope rests in Jesus.
Every one of us has an eternal destiny. If you are unsure of your eternal destiny, you can make certain of it right now and receive your salvation today. Salvation is a Free Gift from God. There is nothing humanly possible that you can do to obtain it, other than to believe and to receive.
Jesus came to reveal God the Father to us and to make it possible for us to receive this free gift of eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9says that it is by grace alone that we are saved through faith. Receiving this free gift is easy and is achieved by taking several steps-
You can do this by prayer. Here is a typical prayer to help you.
According to Your word, you say that if I acknowledge Jesus, believe in my heart that He came for me, that He died for me and that you raised Him from the dead three days later, I would be saved.
If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought Him back to life, you will be saved. By believing you receive God's approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved. Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be ashamed.” There is no difference between Jews and Greeks. They all have the same Lord, who gives His riches to everyone who calls on Him. So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-11.
Well friend, you did it! Hallelujah! You did it. You are now born again... a child of God and destined for Heaven.
Please tell someone about it, especially write to us.
We'd love to hear from you.