Dale had always dreamed of being a commercial airline pilot. By nineteen, he already had his pilot’s license. Chuck and Gene, commercial pilots who had taken Dale under their wings, kindly let Dale fly with them. That fateful day, the three of them took off in a twin engine Piper Navajo into a clear Los Angeles sky. Unable to clear the tops of the trees, Gene veered off directly into a 75-foot high aviation monument. The plane disintegrated as the three pilots smashed into the stone edifice at 135 miles per hour, then plunged 70 feet to the ground. Only Dale survived, sort of. Dale recounts what happened between flat-lining and being resuscitated:
“The last thing I remembered was the sight of Chuck’s hands on the controls, violently wrenching the flight controls fully left and fully back. . . . Suddenly I found myself suspended in midair, hovering over the wreckage of my body. My gray pants and short-sleeve shirt were torn to shreds and soaked in blood. . . . I sped through what appeared to be a narrow pathway. . . .Accompanying me were two angelic escorts dressed in seamless white garments woven with silver threads. They had no discernible gender but appeared masculine and larger than I was. . . . Remarkably, my peripheral vision was enhanced, and I could see both of their glowing faces at the same time. I could even see behind me while hardly moving my head. . . .I was fast approaching a magnificent city, golden and gleaming among a myriad of resplendent colors. The light I saw was the purest I had ever seen. And the music was the most majestic, enchanting, and glorious I had ever heard. I was still approaching the city, but now I was slowing down. Like a plane making its final approach for landing. I knew instantly that this place was entirely and utterly holy. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew. I was overwhelmed by its beauty. It was breathtaking. And a strong sense of belonging filled my heart; I never wanted to leave. Somehow I knew I was made for this place and this place was made for me.”
Dale went on to become a commercial airline pilot and a devoted follower of Jesus, flying 1000s of volunteer hours building orphanages, medical clinics, and churches around the globe. What Dale goes on to describe matches the vision found in Revelation of the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem. It would be easy to skeptically write off a fanciful story like this as the product of a dying brain grasping for hope, but after reading nearly 1000 of these near-death experiences, I’ve come to believe they are more likely a gift from God. It would be very difficult to organize a conspiracy of 1000s saying similar things—painting a conglomerate picture that brings vivid color to what Jesus and the Biblical prophets already told us about the afterlife.
That’s why after 35 years of studying the Bible and 1000s of near-death experiences, I decided to write Imagine Heaven, in bookstores October 20th. You can read two free chapters now (go to ImagineHeaven.net), and I’m going to be blogging additional content that I was not able to include in the book—so stay tuned in the coming weeks. But let me tell you why I decided to write this book.
An estimated one out of twenty-five Americans has had a near-death experience.
This phenomenon is widespread and has been interpreted by many who don’t know the Bible, yet for some reason, Christians have largely stayed away from investigating it. Yet the few theologians who have investigated it see the same amazing pattern that I see. J.P. Moreland, Christian philosopher and professor at Biola, read it and said this:
“Imagine Heaven was a sheer joy to read, it is solidly biblical, and it contains several exciting and convincing NDE accounts. Burke has managed to write this book like a detective novel–its very hard to put the book down–yet fill it with important content that answers the questions a typical person would have with this subject. In all honesty, this is now the go-to book on the subject. Ideal for the layman, it should also be required as a text in seminaries and Christian colleges. I urge you not only to read this book, but to urge your Christian friends to do the same.”
All of us long to know what life after death will be like. In Imagine Heaven, I compare over 100 gripping stories of near-death experiences (NDEs) to what Scripture says about our biggest questions of Heaven: Will I be myself? Will I see friends and loved ones? What will Heaven look like? What is God like? What will we do forever? What about children and pets? I also take a chapter to look at the hellish accounts that about 23% of near-death survivors have reported.
While not every detail of individual NDEs correlate with Scripture, I show how the common experiences shared by thousands of survivors—including doctors, college professors, bank presidents, people of all ages and cultures, and even blind people–point to the exhilarating picture of Heaven promised in the Bible.
I feel like I was simply a reporter, showing what the Bible says and how those returning from the brink of death color in Scripture’s picture. I’m praying (and I’d ask you to pray with me) that it will forever change the way people view God and this amazing gift of Heaven. It will come out in Walmart, Airport bookstands, Amazon, B&N, and I’m praying it will lead many to faith and lead many Christians to live for eternity!