Evidence of the Afterlife?
Note from John: Stories like this one serve as an important reminder that even in times where death is painfully imminent, God’s Peace is always available when we cry out to Him. When I heard Bill’s story, it reminded me that some people seek a return to the experience of an NDE, yet miss open-mindedly seeking the One from whom they experienced such peace and love. Bill discovered where that love is found the hard way. I asked him to share his story with you.
At age 21, while serving as “Striker” aboard a commercial sword fishing boat, I had an NDE glimpse of Heaven but did not understand what it was until 50 years later when I read John Burke’s book, Imagine Heaven, Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, And The Exhilarating Future That Awaits You.
After harpooning a three hundred pound swordfish, I got my right leg snared by the harpoon line and, when the fish sounded, I was dragged to my death behind the fish. I then experienced more peace, love and joy than I ever thought possible. Here is “the rest of the story”:
Just a few hours before dawn, we cranked up the powerful Diesel engine of a forty-two foot, smelly, commercial fishing vessel. Sleepy seagulls began to make their noise as other swordfishermen all over Menemsha Bight fired up their engines.
After we got under way, I went below to get some more sleep but, too soon, was abruptly awakened with a cry of “Swordfish!
I scrambled on deck and rapidly out to the pulpit, a 20 foot plank extending off the bow of the boat with metal railings for protection and guide wires to hold it up.
Our spotter plane began to call us down on the fish. Adrenalin within me began to pump as I steadied myself at the end of the pulpit and grasped the 10 foot harpoon. I then fastened the dart to the 6 inch malleable metal shank at the end of the harpoon and positioned myself to strike the fish.
“Bring her hard to starboard Cachalot,” came the voice of our spotter plane pilot over our short wave radio. “Okay, now steady as she goes” “20 boat lengths straight ahead” “The fish is swimming from left to right and appears to be finning up” “18 boat lengths” , “15 boat lengths” “Keep her coming” All of us, including my two mates in hoops up on the mast, were straining our eyes trying to be the first to spot the fins.
“Got him!” Kim cried out. “He’s at two o’clock about 10 boat lengths.”
And then I saw him, rapidly cutting water with his dorsal and tail fin. Raising the harpoon high above my head, I let it fly with all I had and immediately ran back to make sure the line cleared okay. A swordfish can travel up to 85 mph in almost an instant with a sweep of its massive tail. Four hundred feet of quarter inch Manila rope, ultimately attached to something like a beer keg, almost smokes as it runs out after the fish . About 30 feet from the dart, now imbedded in my speeding prey, was fastened an auxiliary rope and inflated inner tube.
Someone had foul rigged it and I got snared as I ran back and was jerked overboard. A half hitch in the rope was tight around my right leg.
As I plunged to certain death, the pressure was so intense, I thought my head was going to burst! I had no relationship with God, yet in desperation, uttered, “God help me!”
I cried out to Him, and then, for the first time in my life, I experienced His Manifest Presence. The instant I cried out, for me, time ceased to exist. The seconds became eternity and I was encompassed by an incredible sense of love, joy and peace. I had the thought, “I feel so good, maybe I’m in heaven”…….and then the rope broke and I made it to the surface. I had knowledge of the existence of heaven since I attended Sunday school as a child but had little knowledge of the Lord, no relationship with Him and no experience of His Manifest Presence.
When we returned to port, reporters were waiting to interview me. Present also was a Christian evangelist who wanted to visit. I talked with the reporters but not the evangelist. The “Christians” I had known were, in my opinion, “hypocritical”. I judged them as being narrow minded while I was being narrow minded about who they were and what they believed.
I knew God had saved me, but I didn’t know God. Thus began a 20-year search. My goal was to recapture that incredible peace, joy, and love I had experienced. I looked everywhere but to God and His son, Jesus Christ. I took college courses in parapsychology and immersed myself in a multitude of new age techniques. I even spent six months becoming a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. Everywhere I looked, I thought it was there that I would recapture the peace, joy and love but always found my goal to be illusive.
My girlfriend, at that time, saw my struggle and suggested we attend a nearby church. My desperate need overshadowed my judgmental attitude toward Christians and I agreed to go.
That day, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I experienced, for the second time in twenty years that love, peace and joy beyond understanding -The Manifest Presence of God! God’s Manifest Presence is what I experienced in the depths of the ocean at the point of death and again when I accepted His son as my personal Lord and Savior! I am so looking forward Heaven where I will spend eternity in His Manifest Presence! Thank you Lord and thank you John Burke for helping me to imagine that!
For more information about where God has brought me since that time, please go the following ministry website: