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To Heaven and Back? The Pipers Say it Happened!

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NY Times Best-selling author: 90 Minutes in Heaven, (movie edition 2015)

More than 6 million copies in 46 languages

Movie, 90 Minutes in Heaven, Giving Films, in theaters 9/11/15

Baptist Minister known as “The Minister of Hope”

Featured on The Today Show, TBN, etc.

Serves on the Board of Directors for the Far East Broadcasting Company, which sends the Gospel via radio to approximately 20 countries in the Eastern Hemisphere

Graduate: Louisiana State University Radio and Television Broadcasting

3 children

Don did not know that January 18, 1989 would be his last day on Earth. He was on his way home from the Trinity Pines Conference Center eighty miles north of Houston. Don was preaching at his church that evening. Ten minutes after he left the conference center he drove on a bridge across Lake Livingston. An 18-wheel truck came from the opposite direction, smashed into his Ford Escort and killed him instantly. Don was pronounced dead by four sets of EMTs. Shortly after the accident, a pastor, Dick Onerecker, arrived on the scene and asked if he could pray for the man in the accident. The officer told Dick that the man under the tarp was deceased. Dick insisted on praying for the man anyway, but he was warned that the body was badly mangled. The Lord impressed upon Don to pray specifically for no head or internal injuries. While Dick prayed fervently, Don was experiencing the glories of heaven. Just as suddenly as Don had arrived at the gates of heaven, he left them. In his first moment of consciousness back on Earth, Don recalls singing along with Dick, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” 

Unfortunately, Don’s time in heaven did not take away from his earthly suffering. He had a long road back to health.  “Pain became my constant companion. For a long time I would not know what it was like not to hurt all over my body,” recalls Don. Miraculously he had no head or internal injuries. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital with painful treatments and physical disabilities. To date, Don has had 34 surgical procedures. His ability to walk was nothing short of a miracle. “Sometimes I still ask God why I wasn’t allowed to stay in heaven. I have no answer to that question. I have learned, however, that God brings people into my life that need me or need to hear my message,” says Don.

90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN

Don, 64, remembers driving on the bridge and the next moment he recalls standing in heaven. “It (heaven) was perfect, and I knew I had no needs and never would again,” says Don. The light, texture, beauty and tones surpassed anything he had ever seen. From the celestial greeting committee to the myriad of sounds, Don says heaven was like a first-class buffet for the senses. It felt more real than anything he had ever experienced before. Since his brief trip to heaven, Don says a single day has not passed in which he hasn’t felt an intense longing to go back.
After his accident, Don says his perspective changed on many things including heaven. Although he had read about heaven in the Bible and heard sermons on it, everything changed when he experienced it. “Heaven ceased to be a possibility for me and became a reality. Heaven is now my reality, not the life I now live on Earth,” shares Don.  He loves his life here with family and friends, but since the accident he now lives closer to the heavenly reality. “I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to be at the gates of heaven. It was an incredible gift that profoundly impacted my life then and continues to impact me just as strongly today,” says Don.

During the first few weeks after the accident, Don battled with depression from the pain.  One morning while listening to praise and worship tapes, Don sobbed for an hour.  Soon calmness swept over him and he felt very much at peace.  “My depression had lifted,” he says.  “I had been healed again.”  Today Don is doing remarkably well physically but he knows his limitations.  One leg is shorter than the other and he has limited used of his arm.  However that doesn’t stop him from sharing his story around the world.  “I minister to people to help them to heaven and a have better life along the way,” says Don.

Eva says she never tires of hearing Don’s story.  “We are lucky to still have Don with us,” she says. “Watching the evidence of how God is using such a horrific experience to bring a message of hope to people around the world makes me proud to be his wife.” More importantly, Eva loves watching the faces of people who are hearing Don’s story for the first time.  “It is an awesome and humbling experience.” 

While Don was hospitalized for 105 days and undergoing numerous surgeries, the family was under stress. “Many of my problems stemmed from my feeling completely helpless,” says Don.  “For a long time, I couldn’t even get myself a glass of water.”  The children were with other relatives and close friends.  The children came back home permanently 6 months after the accident.  Eva says, “Through the years, I’ve learned that if I leave Don alone, he eventually returns to a more even keel.  My husband is truly a remarkable person.”

THE BIG SCREEN

One day last year, Don received a surprise phone call.  Rick Jackson, an entrepreneur who formed Family Christian Stores, wanted to produce more faith based films and had read Don’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven.  He asked Don if he wanted to do a movie.  “I have been wanting to do a movie for 7 years,” says Don.  “But no one wanted to portray the story accurately.”  Apparently, filmmakers wanted to glamorize Don’s story.  “They wanted to add an affair and say that Don was on drugs,” says Eva.  “That screenplay was good, but it wasn’t our story,” says Don.  Both Don and Eva were on the movie set as consultants.  90 Minutes in Heaven premieres in theaters on September 11 and stars Star Wars’ Hayden Christensen and Superman Returns’ Kate Bosworth.

Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Don Piper
Eva Piper
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