Reverend Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003) thought that by the time he was nine he had done all that was necessary to get a place in heaven. He was born and raised a Southern Baptist. As a child, he first made his commitment to Christ and was baptized with water. He was a lifelong member of the church. In Christian circles, he was “saved” and on the path for heaven. He was a believer and follower of Jesus Christ and he knew this assured him a place in heaven. He even believed that Jesus and all his disciples were Southern Baptists. But it came as a real shock to him when he found out that they weren’t. At the age of 15, Kenneth had a near-death experience resulting from a malformed heart – a condition he was born with.
Kenneth Hagin was the pastor of Rhema Bible Church and the Kenneth Hagin Ministries which publishes the Word of Faith Magazine. The following is an excerpt of his near-death experience as described in his book, I Believe in Visions, by Rev. Kenneth Hagin.
My heart stopped beating. This numbness spread to my feet, my ankles, my knees, my hips, my stomach, my heart and I leaped out of my body.
I did not lose consciousness; I leaped out of my body like a diver would leap off a diving board into a swimming pool. I knew I was outside my body. I could see my family in the room, but I couldn’t contact them.
I began to descend down, down, into a pit, like you’d go down into a well, cavern or cave. And I continued to descend. I went down feet first. I could look up and see the lights of the Earth. They finally faded away. Darkness encompassed me round about – darkness that is blacker than any night man has ever seen.
The farther down I went, the darker it became – and the hotter it became – until finally, way down beneath me, I could see fingers of light playing on the wall of darkness. And I came to the bottom of the pit.
This happened to me more than sixty years ago, yet it’s just as real to me as if it had happened the week before last.
When I came to the bottom of the pit, I saw what caused the fingers of light to play on the wall of darkness. Out in front of me, beyond the gates or the entrance into hell, I saw giant, great orange flames with a white crest.
I was pulled toward hell just like a magnet pulls metal unto itself. I knew that once I entered through those gates, I could not come back.
I was conscious of the fact that some kind of creature met me at the bottom of that pit. I didn’t look at it. My gaze was riveted on the gates, yet I knew that a creature was there by my right side.
That creature, when I endeavored to slow down my descent, took me by the arm to escort me in. When he did, way above the blackness and the darkness a voice spoke. It sounded like a male voice, but I don’t know what he said. I don’t know whether it was God, Jesus, an angel or who. He did not speak in the English language: it was a foreign language.
That place just shook at the few words he spoke! And the creature took his hand off my arm. There was a power like a suction to my back parts that pulled me back. I floated away from the entrance to hell until I stood in the shadows. Then, like a suction from above, I floated up, head first, through the darkness.
Before I got to the top, I could see the light. I’ve been down in a well: it was like you were way down in a well and could see the light up above.
I came up on the porch of my grandpa’s house. Then I went through the wall – not through the door, and not through the window – through the wall, and seemed to leap inside my body like a man would slip his foot inside his boot in the morning time.
Before I leaped inside my body, I could see my grandmother sitting on the edge of the bed holding me in her arms. When I got inside my body, I could communicate with her.
I felt myself slipping. I said, “Granny, I’m going again. You’ve been a second mother to me when Momma was ill.”
My heart stopped for a second time. 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.
There farther down I went, the hotter and darker it became, until I came again to the bottom of the pit and saw the entrance to hell, or the gates as I call it. I was conscious of that creature meeting me.
I endeavored to slow down my descent – it seemed like I was floating down – yet it seemed like there was a pull that pulled me downward. And that creature took me by the arm. When he did, that voice spoke again – a man’s voice. It was a foreign language. I don’t know what he said, but when he spoke, that whole place just shook. That creature took his hand off my arm.
It was like suction to my back. I never turned around. I just came floating back into the shadows of darkness. And then I was pulled up, head first.
I could see the lights of the Earth above me before I came up out of the pit. The only difference this time was that I came up at the foot of the bed.
For a second time I stood there. I could see my body lying there on the bed. I could see Grandma as she sat there holding me in her arms.”
[Kenneth then says goodbye to his family]
I left a word for each one of them, and my heart stopped the third time.
I could feel the circulation as it cut off. Suddenly my toes went numb. Faster than you can snap your fingers, my toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, stomach and heart went dead – and I leaped out of my body and began to descend.
Until this time, I thought, this is not happening to me. This is just a hallucination. It can’t be real!
But then I thought, “This is the third time. I won’t come back this time! I won’t come back this time!”
Darkness encompassed me round about, darker than any night man has ever seen.
And in the darkness, I cried out, “God! I belong to the church! I’ve been baptized in water”
I waited for an answer, but there was no answer; only the echo of my own voice through the darkness. And the second time I cried a little louder, “God! I belong to the church! I’ve been baptized in water!”
I waited for an answer, but there was no answer; only the echo of my own voice as it echoed through the darkness.
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 like there was 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 head first.
[Kenneth Hagin then enters his body again and recovers from his illness.]