Don Brubaker led a relatively normal life; happily married with three children and a busy broadcasting career, he rarely questioned life and death. After his heart attack and near-death experience, however, everything changed.
What follows is an excerpt from his book, Absent From The Body. You will find his near-death experience to be unique among other near-death experiences because of the fact that he actually travels through time to experience one of history’s greatest moments – the crucifixion of Christ.
There was a sudden whoosh, and I saw a large glowing red ball approaching me, almost like the light on the front of a train. In that instant, as the red ball rushed toward me, I knew terror like never before. As it approached, I realized that it was really a large, eerie red eye. It stopped when it got close to me, and then began traveling alongside me through the tunnel. I could hardly stand to look at it, its gaze was so piercing. It felt like it was looking right into my mind, into my very soul.
Still I was plunging into the depths of this horrible tunnel. I glanced at the walls of the tunnel, walls of deep black whirring past me like video footage on fast forward. Yes, I was still there, still falling millions of miles into some terrible pit. And yet, there I was, lying deathlike on a hospital bed. I could see myself there, and it panicked me all the more.
The eye – suddenly I realized that I was seeing the hospital room through the red eye. It was absurd to me that I hadn’t realized this before – and yet I could hardly process my thoughts. It was all too bizarre.
Panic started building in my mind as it began to dawn on me where I was, suspended in this dank tube. As the red eye glowered at me, the thoughts began to arrange themselves, coalescing slowly. Suddenly, the idea was undeniable.
I was in hell.
The realization swept over me like an ocean wave, unstoppable though I tried desperately to dismiss it. Hell! I didn’t even believe in hell! And here I was? This was it?
I had only the briefest moment to react to the thought when a deep, comfortable voice echoed through the tunnel.
“Have no fear, my son,” the voice said with a certain resounding nobility, “for I am with you. I have chosen you to write about the experiences you will go through.”
But if this is God, why is God here, in this darkness?
Again, the voice responded to my unspoken doubts.
“You’ll first experience hell,” God said evenly, with a tone of complete control, “to prove to you the reality of evil. You’ve only believed that there was goodness. You must see for yourself that hell is real. And then you can tell others about the awful reality of hell, and about the beautiful glory of heaven.”
There was a low murmuring all around me, as if I were in the midst of a huge group of grumbling people. Before me, suddenly, stood a huge black door. The air began to glow and shimmer with oppressive heat.
I watched as the door opened upon a vast, flaming oven. I felt myself drawn like a magnet into the center of the flames – although I was terrified to go in. There were hundreds of others already there, roasting to death, but not dead. Once I was inside, the door slammed shut behind me. The worst, dreadfulest feelings sloshed around inside me, like so much poison.
“Is this actually what hell is?” I asked aloud.
I passed my hands through blue-tipped flames. The fire itself was cold, and it did not hurt me. From nowhere, a thought flashed through my mind: Death, where is thy sting? God, even in the midst of this holocaust, was truly in control of everything. I began to laugh, and the others laughed with me. Our laughter bounced off the walls of the oven and echoed over the roar of the flames.
And instantly, as if someone had flipped the channel selector, I was alone again in darkness.
I sighed, wearily. I could not regulate my feelings, and now I was feeling abandoned and lonely. I longed to be with my family. I wanted to tell them how much I loved them. I needed to tell everyone how much God loved them!
“You will tell others about me, Don,” the voice of God said, out of nowhere. “That is your mission. That is why you are going through these experiences.”
I listened patiently.
“You must learn to love others, to have compassion and to forgive them. You must live that others may see me in you.”
In a flash, I could recall every person I had ever held a grudge against, every quarrel I had ever left unresolved.
Suddenly I am enveloped and floating in a deep, electric blue sky. It is the most amazing and beautiful blue I have ever seen. It feels velvety soft. The air seems to sparkle with purity. I am at peace, feeling restful, serene.
I perceived a light moving toward me. It is bluish white and gives off small yellow flashes and sparks at the edges, growing in intensity until it is almost too intense to look into.
And there is a figure in the middle of the light. My very being leaps in recognition that this is Jesus Christ. It’s Christ coming toward me. I gaze at his extraordinarily handsome face. The eyes are full of love and acceptance. I am immersed in a feeling of joy and hope and all good things.
Christ’s voice rings gently, like the sound of tiny, pleasant silver bells.
“Don, do you want to stay here, or do you wish to go back?”
I hesitated to answer. I am wrapped in a warm sense of love and peace. The color is such a pleasure to see and feel. And Jesus indicates no impatience.
I realize that I am grinning like a little boy getting his first puppy.
I am seeing God’s own Son. This is the Lord. This is Jesus!
Suddenly, a soft sense of sadness creeps into my thoughts. I think of my dear family. I can sense the sorrow they would feel if I were gone. I know I must go back to them, that I have work to do.
I wonder about that. It was God who gave me my mission. Why, then, if God wants me to minister to others, is Jesus offering me an opportunity to stay here in heaven?
The answer surfaced from my own thoughts. This is a test. Again, Christ speaks: “Don, do you want to stay or go back?”
“I want to go back,” I answered immediately, knowing I made the right choice.
“You have chosen well. Go. I am with you,” Jesus says gently.
Everything changes again, as if someone has turned a page in a book. I see myself in the midst of a huge crowd. It’s not a modern crowd. They are dressed in the clothes of Bible times. I look down at myself. So am I!
The crowd seems to be jeering at me. Why? Then I see more: I help a man, someone who has been brutally whipped and abused. The crowd is upset because I am offering assistance. But the beaten man has eyes that burn with love and compassion.
How could anyone want to hurt this man? I lift the man off of the dusty road to his feet.
The man turns, and from somewhere he lifts a huge wooden cross to his back. The man begins moving toward a hill. The hill is called Golgotha. With each new moment, I realize more and more clearly what I am seeing.
These people are going to crucify Christ.
I follow, stunned, I watch in horror as Jesus is nailed to the cross, the spikes pounded through his wrists and the sensitive insteps of his feet. I watch helpless as the cross is propped up and dropped into position with an ugly thud. I cover my face with my hands.
If only others could see what I’ve seen. The world would get on its knees … The world would be at peace.
(Don Brubaker’s near-death experience ends here)