23 Minutes in Hell
On Sunday 22 November 1998, my wife, Annette, and I spent the evening at the home of close friends. There was nothing unusual about that night. Annette and I headed home around 11:00 p.m., and we fell into bed shortly before midnight, unaware that my life was about to be changed forever by an event I still find hard to explain. Suddenly, at 3:00 a.m. on the 23rd, without any notice, I found myself being hurled through the air, falling to the ground and completely out of control.
I landed in what appeared to be a prison cell. I was completely naked, which added to the vulnerability of being a captive. This was not a dream – I was actually in this strange place. Fully awake and cognisant, I had no idea what had happened, how I had travelled, or why I was there until it was shown to me and explained later during my journey.
The very first thing I noticed was the temperature. It was hot – far beyond any possibility of sustaining life. It was so hot that I wondered, “Why am I still alive? How could I survive such intense heat?” My flesh should have disintegrated off my body at any moment. The reality was that it didn’t. This wasn’t a nightmare; it was real. The severity of this heat took every ounce of strength out of me.
I wasn’t yet fully aware of it – but I had fallen into hell. If you are like most people, you are probably reading this article out of pure curiosity. Somewhere in the back of your mind you may be thinking, ‘Did this man really go to hell – hell, as in fire, burning, and torment?’ Or maybe you think I’m making the whole thing up, because no one could go to hell and live to tell about it. You might not even believe there is a hell. If you do believe in a literal hell, you probably think that the only reason God would send someone to hell was if that person was evil and deserved it?
Well, in my case, it’s none of the above. Yes, I was taken to a literal burning hell, and no, it had nothing to do with being good or bad. The reason I was shown this place was to bring back a message of warning. My story is not one to condemn, but rather to inform you that hell is a real place – it does exist. God’s desire is that no one goes there. But the sad and simple fact is that people make the choice to go to hell every day!
Why is it that when God warns us of what will happen if we travel down the wrong road, we are quick to say that He is judgmental and condemning? The truth is that He warns us because He is a good God, one who loves us and wants to help, guide and protect us.
This experience is not something I asked for or ever wanted. However, I am able to overlook my discomfort in light of God’s overall perspective. I have since discovered that my story coincides with what Scripture details about hell. My horrifying journey felt like it lasted an eternity, but, actually, it lasted less than half an hour. Those twenty-three minutes were more than enough to convince me that I would never ever want to return, not even for one more minute. It has become my life’s purpose to tell others what I saw, heard and felt so that whoever reads this story will be able to take the proper measures to steer clear of this place at all costs…
That night I was catapulted out of my bed into the very pit of hell. My point of arrival was a cell with walls of rough stone and rigid bars on the door. I felt as though I was in a temporary holding cell, like a prisoner awaiting his final hours. Isa 24:22 and Prob 7:27 refer to the chambers of hell – this is where I was. As I lay there on the floor, I felt extremely weak. I began to look around and realised I was not alone in this cell. I saw two enormous beasts, unlike anything I had ever seen before. These creatures were towering and far, far beyond intimidating. They were not of this natural world. They were entirely evil, gazing at me with pure, unrestrained hatred which completely paralysed me with fear. ‘Evil’ and ‘Terror’ stood before me. I had no idea where I was and felt utterly panicked. These creatures weren’t animals, but they weren’t human either. They resembled a reptile in appearance with bumps and scales all over their bodies. I could hear the creatures speaking to each other, and though I could not identify their language, I could hear them speaking awful words – blasphemous language that spewed from their mouths expressing hatred for God. Suddenly they turned their attention toward me, like hungry predators staring at prey. I wanted to get up and run, but I had no strength. I could barely move (Ps 88:4). I knew it was much more than physical weakness I was feeling. I was mentally and emotionally drained, even though I had only been there for a few minutes.
The second beast, with its razor-like claws, grabbed me and threw me against the wall. He plunged his claws into my chest and ripped them outwards. I knew I could not escape this torture via death, as death was not an option. Death penetrated me, but eluded me. (Ps 116:3). I pleaded for mercy, but they had none. They seemed incapable of it. The mental anguish I felt was indescribable.
The Living Dead
At this time, I was extremely nauseous from the terrible, foul stench coming from these creatures. It was absolutely disgusting, foul and rotten. It was by far the most putrid smell I have ever encountered. The odour was extremely toxic and alone should have killed me. Instinctively I knew the things I experienced were a thousand times worse than what would be possible on the earth’s surface – things such as the odours, the strength of the demons, the loudness of the screams, the dryness and loneliness I felt. I was horrified as I heard the screams of an untold multitude of people crying out in torment. It was absolutely deafening The terror-filled screams seemed to go right through me…through the panic and deafening noise I realised, “I’m in hell! This is a real place and I’m actually here!” I tried to understand… “I am a good person. This is inconceivable”…the fear was so intense I couldn’t bear it, but then again, I couldn’t die. I knew that most people up on the surface of the earth did not believe or even know that there was a whole world going on down here. They wouldn’t believe it. But here it existed, and it was all too real. This place was so terrifying and hostile. I felt the darkness (Ex 10:21). The darkness was not simply the absence of light – it had a distinctive evil presence, a feeling of death, a penetrating evil. I looked off to my right and could faintly see flames from afar off that dimly lit the skyline. I knew the flames were coming from a large pit, a gigantic raging inferno.
One of the most painful thoughts I had was that I could never get to my wife. She had no idea of my existence in this place. I would never ever see her again or tell her of my doom. (Ps 140:10). The air was filled with smoke and a filthy, deathly odour hung in the oxygen-depleted atmosphere (Rev 14:11). One of the worst sensations I experienced was an insatiable thirst and dryness. I was so extremely thirsty. There was no water, no humidity, nothing (Zech 9:11).
With thoughts of utter hopelessness flooding my mind, I looked out at the desolate, barren cavern toward the flames. All the memories of what a wonderful life I had enjoyed were now a world apart. There was no work, no goals, no wisdom and no opportunity to speak to anyone. No comfort, no kindness. All life was over and a useless ‘wasting away’ permeated my being. How could I accept the reality I was now faced with? It was a reality filled with an endless eternity of pain, loss, loneliness and doom – a most miserable existence. I realised this horror would last for an eternity and that knowledge thrust me back into a frantic state of mind. I didn’t even possess the thought of calling on God for help, because I was there as one who didn’t know God. The Lord didn’t even come to mind.
Momentary relief hit my soul as I realised I had been taken away from those hideous creatures. However, now I found myself next to an enormous pit with raging flames of fire leaping high into an open cavern. As I looked up into that dark, eerie, tomb-like atmosphere, it seemed like a mouth that had swallowed her dead. (Num 16:32-33) The flames of her ravenous appetite were never satisfied with the pitiful screams of untold multitudes. The heat was far beyond unbearable and I desperately wanted to escape before being thrown into that inferno. I could see the outlines of people through the flames…the screams of the condemned deafening. They were contained in a massive pit with no way of escape as horrible creatures surrounded the perimeter. Human strength was no match for the demons. The continual emotional, mental and physical trauma of hell feeds a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation. You desperately long for even a few minutes of rest, but you never ever get the privilege. There is never any peace of mind (Ezek 7:25). I desperately wanted to talk to a human being, but I knew I would never get the chance. You are kept from any kind of fellowship, conversation or human interaction. There is no escape…
I possessed the knowledge that there were different levels of torment and varying degrees of punishment. I knew some people were in worse positions than others, though all the areas were horrid and filled with torment. I was aware there were other levels far far worse.
Can good people go to hell?
You might be thinking, “I am a good enough person to go to heaven. Only bad people, murderers, rapists and people like Hitler and Stalin go to hell”. This sounds reasonable to most of us. But what standard is used to determine if one is ‘good enough’ to go to heaven and ‘bad enough’ to go to hell? This is something we need to know for certain. The qualification for heaven (or hell) is not based on how we compare to others. You may look pretty good to yourself, but what if you were looked at through the eyes of Someone who is sinless? What if you were judged not only by your actions, but by your thoughts? (Matt 5:28)
Most of us realise that we have broken God’s law – the Ten Commandments – as if it’s no big deal. But, it is a big deal. Have you ever lied? You say, “Yes, but only white lies.” Have you ever stolen? “Yes but only little things.” Can you see what you are doing? You are trivialising your crimes. You will deceive yourself if you think you are not a thief or a liar. What is the judge’s ruling for lying and stealing? “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” Rev 21:8. You say, “I don’t believe in hell.” That’s like someone saying to a judge, “I don’t believe in jail.” What we believe or don’t believe doesn’t change realities. No thief will enter heaven. Not one. God has not left us in a hopeless state concerning our eternity. Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins. He was brutally beaten beyond recognition as a man, severely whipped and nailed to a cross where He suffered an excruciating death. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8
Jesus is God’s plan for salvation. Our religious deeds, our own opinions, can NOT save us. God is the Judge and He has provided the solution. We have no right to dispute His salvation plan. If you are a Christian, don’t keep the plan to yourself. Share it with your friends and family – don’t let them go to hell! You will be accountable for not sharing the good news. If you are not a born again child of God, don’t delay your decision. You do not know what tomorrow holds. Pray this prayer now, and get in touch with a Bible-believing church where you can plant yourself. Read your Bible and start with the Gospel of John…and tell others of what the Lord has done for you!
I confess I am a sinner. Thank you that Jesus took my punishment upon Himself when He died on the cross for my sins. Thank you that He rose again. Today I repent of my sins and turn from my evil ways. I place my trust in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. In Jesus name I confess this, Amen.
“Hell is going to be an eternity filled with grief and pain, and unquenchable fire, according to the Bible.” Franklin Graham.
“Scripture speaks of the ‘Lake of Fire’ (Rev 20:14), ‘Wailing and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt 13:42) and where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:44). If we really believed in Hell, we would plead with sinners.” Ray Comfort.
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the Lord Almighty.” Mal 4:1
“If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” John 15:6
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matt 13:41-43
"…If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.” Rev 14:9-12
“Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28