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Don Piper, once pronounced dead, now tells of heaven he experienced

By Melanie B. Smith · 340-2468

Don Piper has no doubt he died in a 1989 wreck. An 18-wheeler hit his Ford Escort head on.

The truck rolled over the top of his car, crushing the top onto his skull, the dash onto his legs and the steering wheel into his chest, he said.

Four sets of EMT workers checked him out, pronounced him dead and covered him with a tarp, the minister said.

But Piper said a pastor arrived and believed God told him to pray for “the man in the red car,” even though police reported him dead.

“The pastor’s theology didn’t include praying for the dead, but he was obedient,” Piper said in an interview in Decatur.

The pastor crawled into the back of the crushed Escort, got up under the tarp and began praying and singing, according to Piper.

Piper said he began singing along with the pastor. The hymn was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Piper, who is speaking at Trinity United Methodist Church for a revival, said that he vividly remembers being in heaven before “coming back.”

The story of that 11/2 hour and the 13 months in a hospital afterward became a best-selling book, “90 Minutes in Heaven.”

Piper, 57, said he did not want to be alive for a long time. He said he wanted to be in heaven because it was so real and perfect.

“I was close to depression. I didn’t understand why God would show me such sights and then bring me back,” he said.

He said it is simply a miracle that he is alive after his heart stopped beating so long. It took 34 surgeries for him to be able to function. He said that it took 14 years for him to decide to write his story. He said he did it because people saw his experiences as encouraging.

“I wanted it behind me but God wanted it in front of me,” he said of his tragedy.

He said that researchers who have explored stories of near death experiences find that many people’s stories are the same, even those of young children who have not been taught about heaven. Piper said he believes that the answer is that heaven is real and eternal.

His book 2004 book has sold 2.5 million copies, Piper said. He has written two other books, including one just out, “Heaven Is Real: Lessons on Earthly Joy.”

Piper said his topic Tuesday will be “What Are You Doing Here?” and will deal with God’s plan for people, especially for those who have suffered tragedy or great loss.

Piper’s final revival service at Trinity Methodist on North Seneca Drive will be Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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