Thanks to for a review copy of 90 Minutes in Heaven 10th Anniversary Edition, which contains affiliate links.
Imagine you were in a car crash so severe that medics on the scene determined that you were dead when they could find no pulse. You are trapped in your mangled car, until, for some unknown reason, someone comes upon the scene and feels led to come over to the wreckage and pray for you. Even though he’s told that you’re dead. Sure enough — the man praying soon began yelling at the EMT’s, “This guy is alive!” And he was — then.
90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life is Don Piper’s tale of this accident, his trip to heaven, and his lengthy recovery period which followed.
When I was a child, I seemed to spend lots of time in our church library. It was just a room adjacent to the choir room, but I was often stuck there when my mom had a choir rehearsal or my dad had a church meeting. I probably have read more books from that room than any other church member (I say this not to brag, but because I’m not sure I ever saw anyone else even looking at a book there). When I was in junior high, I came across a little book about someone who’d been clinically dead for a short time. He (or she? I hate that I’ve forgotten both the book’s name and the person’s gender) retold his experiences in heaven. I was really moved by this book, and remember loaning it to a (gasp! Catholic!) friend, and discussing it with several friends. It was the beginning for me of an interest in reading about near-death experiences. I’ve read many since then, some of which have become quite famous, and some that are even disturbing. I think they’re fascinating, because, since Christianity is such a huge part of my life, it’s understandable that I’d be curious about where I’ll be spending the vast, vast portion of my total existence.
“90 Minutes” is pretty typical of the genre. Piper tells about his accident, then his time in heaven, which is unfortunately brief. That tends to be the problem with most books of this type. The time in heaven isn’t too long, because let’s face it — if it were longer, chances are the person wouldn’t have come back to earth. But what Piper does see if no doubt good: he’s greeted at the gate by a huge horde of people. He recognizes many as those who’ve died before him. They all look quite happy and healthy, and all of them — even those he didn’t know — are so happy to see him. There’s only joy; no sadness at people left behind or anything like that. He hears music which can only be described as “heavenly.” It is so beautiful. He hears hymns he grew up with, but notices that they all focus on happy themes and praises. None are about Jesus’ death and crucifixion, for instance.
Then, Piper is inevitably brought back to earth. His recovery comprises most of the book, and that isn’t too pleasant. He spent months in the hospital, endured dozens of surgeries, depression, and well, the whole period was just a downer. But years later, he wrote his story (with the help of Cec Murphey, who will always be special to me). It began affecting many people, and in the opening of the book, Piper talks about all the countries he’s traveled to to tell his story. Really, the impact it has had has been unbelievable.
I recommend the book. It’s a good reminder to us Christians that earth isn’t our final destination. And it’s a good nudge to non-believers that we’d all do well to consider that earth isn’t an ultimate home to any of us.