Guest / Limited Access /
Mary Neal Describes Her Visit to the Gates of Heaven
Photo by David Agnello
Mary Neal Describes Her Visit to the Gates of Heaven

In 1999, orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal was kayaking on a river in southern Chile when she got trapped under a waterfall and apparently drowned. In the thirty minutes she was "dead," she says, she experienced some incredible things, which she finally described in her book Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again (Waterbrook).

The book has been on the New York Times best-seller list for over two years now. It is accompanied by two other near-heaven experience books: Todd Burbo's Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, which has been there since 2004, and Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife (Simon & Schuster), which was published in October.

In the cover story in the current issue of Christianity Today(available to subscribers immediately; or click here to subscribe to get access), I try to understand why these experiences fascinate us so, and how we might understand them theologically. I begin that article by summarizing Mary Neal's experience. But I also wanted to hear her tell her own story, and ask her a few questions about it.

Let's get right to the point: What happened to you?

As background, my husband and I are avid outdoors people and very athletic. We've been kayaking for many, many, many years. We have kayaked on rivers throughout the United States, and we've kayaked internationally. So we decided to go to Chile to kayak with friends who are professionals—they run a raft and kayak company in the United States, and during the winter, they run trips in Chile for Americans. We decided to kayak a section of a river that's ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Tags:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueChristians, Retreating Isn't a Failure of Nerve
Subscriber Access Only Christians, Retreating Isn't a Failure of Nerve
We need a tactical withdrawal to regroup the church for the days ahead.
RecommendedPersecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Persecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Beginning as a despised, illicit religious sect, Christianity endured 300 years of hostility to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire.
TrendingTrump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Trump Adviser’s Megachurch Withholds Major Donation from SBC
Prestonwood Baptist diverts denominational giving over concerns about Russell Moore’s ERLC.
Editor's PickWhy Africa Needed Its Own Study Bible
Why Africa Needed Its Own Study Bible
And why Americans might want one too.
Christianity Today
Mary Neal Describes Her Visit to the Gates of Heaven
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

December 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.