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To Die Is Gain

Every Good Friday, as it is termed, my thoughts turn to my experience on April 22, 2011. That was the date of Good Friday of that year. People immediately surrounding me–those I love most dearly—might, with a roll of eyes, get tired of hearing it. Some jokingly tell me so, although I think they are glad to still have me hanging around.

Perhaps you, too, are tired of my again writing about it. Makes no difference. The experience is just too powerful to suppress. It is with me constantly. It leaps to my mind at times completely unrelated to thinking on things of the Bible–of the God I serve. I am immediately, on those occasions, drawn deeply into concentration upon what it was all about, asking myself through spiritual, inner-self search what it meant.

I’m talking about the widow-maker heart attack on that day in 2011. Each time my heart stopped, I was immediately with many young, heavenly beings–men and women who looked to be in their mid-twenties. I say “looked”—and that in itself is profound. I’ve been totally blind since around 1994 due to a retinal disease, yet when my heart stopped I saw more clearly than with 20/20 vision.

The matter is further powerful in implication because, according to medical records, I died clinically three times that day. At least I joined those young beings on three separate occasions. This, to me, has great significance, as the Lord Jesus was in the tomb three days before resurrecting to life.

The third time we were running a victory lap, and I was among them, with them looking at me with expressions of jubilation on their faces. I know now that we were running a victory lap after the race of completing work done in life–toward the throne of God. It was Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1–3.

Only my work was and is not yet done. There is more to do, and writing articles such as this one is proof that I haven’t yet completed that race all of us who belong to Christ are running.

Some–especially of the most biblically centered among my circle—are very skeptical about such…experiences. I admit to my own skepticism prior to my…experience. I’m still skeptical, I must admit, about some reports on near-death experiences. All I can truly know is my own truth–which it is God’s truth, because I lived through it.

This is not resurrection I’m reporting do have done. That glorious moment is ascribed to the Lord Jesus Christ alone. This was simply a brief glimpse into Heaven–for God’s own reasons—that awaits all who believe in their spiritual hearts that Jesus was crucified for us, was buried, and took up His life again on Resurrection Day–the third day after He said “It is finished.”

My experience, I am assured in my spirit, was given so that I might continue to spread the word about hope–particularly about the coming Rapture and the Blessed Hope, who is Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He promised, “Whoever believes in me will never die.”

That is why we can agree with Paul the apostle, who tells us that “to die is gain.” Physical death instantaneously puts us into eternal life–and I can testify to that truth because I was immediately within the heavenly realm the moment my heart stopped each time.

Here are Paul’s words.

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:20–24)

There is great interest in the afterlifewith presentations of near-death experiences that are fodder for programs that can be considerably over-exaggerated in many instances. But there are serious studies now being done by some of the top scientists and others on the phenomenon of near-death experiences. That’s why I include the following excerpt recounting such studies.

Scientific advances in the 20th and 21st centuries have led to a major evolution in the understanding of death. At the same time, for decades, people who have survived an encounter with death have recalled unexplained lucid episodes involving heightened consciousness and awareness. These have been reported using the popular—yet scientifically ill-defined—term “near-death experiences.”

A multidisciplinary team of national and international leaders, led by Sam Parnia, MD, PhD, director of the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Research Program at NYU Langone, have published “Guidelines and standards for the study of death and recalled experiences of death,” a multidisciplinary consensus statement and proposed future directions in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. This study, which examined the accumulated scientific evidence to date, represents the first-ever peer-reviewed consensus statement for the scientific study of recalled experiences surrounding death…

Among their conclusions are the following:

  • Due to advances in resuscitation and critical care medicine, many people have survived encounters with death or being near-death. These people—who are estimated to comprise hundreds of millions of people around the world based on previous population studies—have consistently described recalled experiences surrounding death, which involve a unique set of mental recollections with universal themes.
  • The recalled experiences surrounding death are not consistent with hallucinations, illusions, or psychedelic drug–induced experiences, according to several previously published studies. Instead, they follow a specific narrative arc involving a perception of (a) separation from the body with a heightened, vast sense of consciousness and recognition of death; (b) travel to a destination; (c) a meaningful and purposeful review of life, involving a critical analysis of all actions, intentions, and thoughts towards others; a perception of (d) being in a place that feels like “home”; and (e) a return back to life.
  • The experience of death culminates into previously unidentified, separate subthemes and is associated with positive long-term psychological transformation and growth. (“Recalled Experiences Surrounding Death: More Than Hallucinations?” NYU Langone News, April 12, 2022)

All of this has me thinking upon our recent celebration of Christ’s resurrection and my Good Friday experience those years ago. I sometimes think, with comforting expectation, that within one heartbeat moment I could again be running toward my Savior and God’s throne among that heavenly throng of joyous young, heavenly beings–young men and women who were gloriously handsome and beautiful. I think on how, at my advanced age and the nearness of the Rapture, my odds are greatly increased to again be in that heavenly presence, if there is such a thing as “odds” in considering heavenly matters involving life and death. In that sense, and not meaning to be morbid in saying it, I can definitely understand what Paul meant when he told us “to die is gain.”


  1. Rae Lynn Merritt says:

    Thank you for writing about this event in your life. Philippians 1:21 has been my life verse for years. I have so enjoyed your reading your writings and essays.

    Hopefully we can meet in the Balcony of Heaven or while Ruling and Reigning with Christ! You are a glorious blessing to many King and Priest Terry James. 👑📖👑

    Maranatha ☝️📖🧜‍♀️


  3. Barbara Craft says:

    Beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Linda Hamm Dayson says:

    Thank you Terry. I’ve never tired of hearing your story and look forward to your weekly writings. Having known believers seemingly baptized in pickle juice to believers that are way over the top emotionally, I’ve come to land somewhere in the middle. Thank you again for sharing your amazing experience! It is comforting indeed! Maranatha!

  5. Ed Wood says:

    Terry, this is not a story that gets old in its telling – it just gets better, especially in these times when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, based on a view centered only on this existence.

    This “Titanic” of a world has already hit the iceberg and is sinking. Noithing can stop it now, nor can anything save its passengers except those who decide to accept Jesus’ Rescue Mission and are watching so they’ll be ready to go when it arrives. (See the story of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.)

    Your experience strikes me as completely credible and totally in line with John’s, which begins in Chapter 4 of Revelation. He was “in the Spirit” when he saw heaven and the future. This clearly proves that one’s consciousness is not dependent on one’s physical body.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if all of us believers were already in that crowd you saw, since all the earthly rules of time and space don’t apply in God’s realm. I think it’s possible you not only saw heaven, Terry, but also the post-Rapture future for us which is just up ahead.

  6. S.Z. says:

    Sir, I was given a dream in 1994 that was verified by another believer the next day who knew nothing of my dream. I believe the Lord showed me that the rapture would happen in my lifetime. I was there! I am 69 years old it cannot be much longer. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t ask the Lord to come for us. This old world holds nothing for me.

    • Ed Wood says:

      As another 69-year old person who is looking to put Earth in the rear view mirror, I found your comment especially encouraging!

      Thanks for posting it.

  7. Mindy Cyr says:

    Terry, I have read the details you shared before, but they did not impact me they way they do now. My 19 year old daughter passed away almost 8 months ago, and my heart and mind are more focused on Heaven and what she must be experiencing. The details of what you experienced are very comforting to me. Thank you for sharing your story again.

  8. J.T. Prater says:

    My brother in Christ,

    Be assured, your glorious testimony never fails to exalt our Lord and stir my hungry soul. The message is eternally refreshing.

    But as I poured over today’s post, something new moved upon my spirit.. Your story of physical blindness, the near death encounter and the spectacle of catching a glimpse of Glory was suddenly a powerful revelation of yet another side of this phenomenon. Consider:

    The lost unsaved soul at this moment can have ‘physical sight’ but according to Scripture he or she is both ‘spiritually blind and dead. When this person however is exposed to the gospel, he has in essence a “Near Life” experience.

    How close the unsaved can be to the gates of Heaven and yet fail to get a clear vision encounter of Glory because of spiritual blindness. After nearly fifty eight years of preaching and giving invitations, I can attest to the fact of “Near Life” encounters by the unsaved as they often talk of how good they felt or how much they enjoyed a message, and yet it simply became a “Near Life” encounter. Because of spiritual blindness, they slipped right back into their dark world of spiritual death. This person in essence attests to the fact of a close encounter with the Lord of Glory. So near and yet so far. Almost persuaded comes to mind.

    In conclusion, I’m wondering out loud as to how many lost souls in eternity will sadly rehearse their personal story of a “Near Life” encounter. A country church service, a gospel tract, a street preacher, a radio message etc. etc.

    Looking forward to our “Glorious reunion” one day soon.

    Be strong dear brother and thanks again. Every post is a blessings.

    Love in Christ

    Joseph Terry Prater Jonesborough Tennessee.


    • Ed Wood says:

      You excellent comment brought to mind the passages below which demonstrate that the unsaved will still get a glimpse of the magnificent eternity they could have had but lost because they would not believe.

      Matthew {26:63} But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. {26:64} Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall
      ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

      Luke {13:28} There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out.

      What you said above was a real blessing, too, J.T.!
      Many thanks.

  9. A Clark says:

    First time I read your testimony. Very encouraging, so thanks for posting it.

    I read a book years ago written by an ER doctor called “To Hell and Back”. He had observed many NDEs and was himself initially an unbeliever. He noted that most NDEs were actually horrifying to people and that most of them could not recall the experiences after a short time.

    He also noted that the very positive experiences correlated to Christians. He eventually became Christian himself.

  10. CoNMTX says:

    No, I am not tired of your “Good Friday” experience. I have read your articles and books and believe you are a true Christian relating an experience that was meant to be a message to many. Since you are a well-known author, and radio personality you are not just another kook seeking your 15 minutes of fame. Keep writing and bringing people closer to the Lord Jesus.

  11. Among their conclusions are the following: Bullet point 2) d and 2) e

    I must say, the very second that I read these words, I chuckled OUT LOUD!!! I, too, had an “experience”, as many can attest that they also had. Mine was different in that it wasn’t so much a “near death” experience, but an “awakening after surgical” experience.

    The day before I went into surgery, it was Sunday, and I was at church. I went up front for prayer that my surgery would be successful, that I would “awaken” refreshed and without complication, and that the confirmation of these prayer requests would be, wait for it, a “visitation of angels”. Yes, that is exactly what my Pastor and I had prayed for!

    My surgery was 8+ hours long and it entailed cutting from the top-front of my right ear, around the back, and a semi-circular slice down from behind the ear to the bottom of my neck. Yes, it took 175 stitches to seal it back up! They had to literally “flip” my face back onto itself in order to reveal the LARGE EGG-SHAPED MASS that entwined itself around my facial nerves and my right PEROTID GLAND, which they also REMOVED during the surgery. This left my mouth COMPLETELY DRY for all these many years since. The surgery was June 16, 1999. Now, on to the good/God part.

    I recall being in the post-surgical ward, and I could barely hear (like in a distance) the voices of the nurses asking other patients if they were comfortable, or if they needed more medication, etc. I was just coming out of “anesthesia”, but I will never forget what the Lord allowed me to hear AND see! I heard the sound of ‘wings’ flapping and then I felt a warmth over me. I opened my eyes, blinking a few times, and what I saw was out of this world amazing! I looked all around me and yes, I saw SIX ANGELIC BEINGS, and let’s call them male (because they were) smiling down at me as I awoke. They were GLEAMING WHITE and SHINING and HUGE!!

    I continued to look at all SIX of them, and I remember SHOUTING, to whoever was in the room, “Do you see them? Do you see them?” The nurses came running over to me, astonished, as I still had the TUBE in my throat (in those days, and for so long of a surgery, they “tubed” me for anesthesia purposes and for oxygenation during the long 8-hour surgery. I certainly saw them, but I guess they couldn’t, as they were calling for someone to take the tube out of my throat, and yelling, ‘she’s awake, she’s awake!’

    The next thing I remember, I was waking up in a darkened room and it was about 2-3 hours later, and I recalled my “visitation” like it had just happened. As a matter of fact, I STILL recall that “visitation” like it has just happened, every time I think about it.

    And I am thinking about it a lot these days, as I have discovered another “lump” on my face, in front of my LEFT ear now, and I had it checked out by my Primary care doctor, and it’s off to the CT-Scan we go. In a few weeks I will get the results and see the surgeon (June 20th) to find out if I need to undergo another surgery. We caught this one earlier than the other one. The Doctor said that at the time they caught the last one (1999) it had been growing since I was 15 years old, (I was born in 1958) so about 27 years. I began to experience increasing pain in 1996, but I ignored it (as we all do when we sense something ‘wrong’ with our bodies) and hoped it would just ‘go away’.

    So, long as it is, this is my ‘post operative’ prayed for experience with a glimpse at the ‘after-life’, if you will. I’m sure most of us have these, if the Lord has allowed it. I am actually grateful for the gift of seeing so many of God’s ‘Created Beings’ that we will soon ALL see, which begs the call, “even so, come Lord Jesus”. Maranantha!

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