AFTER COMING OFF the bed of sickness as a 16-year-old boy, I preached in the schoolyard and on street corners in the marketplace. I would tell people, “Even if I didn’t have a Bible, I would know there is a hell. I’ve been there.”
It happened at 405 North College Street in McKinney, Texas, on the 22nd day of April in 1933. It was a Saturday night. Just as my grandpa’s clock struck 7:30, my heart stopped.
I was lying in bed, bedfast. I had been sick all of my life with a deformed heart and an incurable blood disease. At 7:30 that night, the blood stopped circulating in my body, way down at the end of my toes. They seemed to go numb. This numbness spread to my feet, my ankles, my knees, my hips, my stomach, and my heart. I leaped out of my body the way someone would leap off a diving board into a swimming pool.
I began to descend feet first—down, down, down. It was like going down into a well or a deep cavern. I looked up and saw the lights of the earth flickering in the distance above me. They finally faded away, and darkness encompassed me.
It was a darkness so dark, you couldn’t see your hand if it were one inch in front of your nose. The blackness was so dense it seemed that you could cut it with a knife. The farther down I went, the darker and hotter it became.
I reached the bottom of this cavern of darkness in only a few seconds, although it seemed like an eternity. I saw fingers of light flickering, playing on the wall of blackness.
At the bottom of the pit was the entrance to hell. Then I saw what was causing the flickering light. Beyond the gates were giant orange flames crested in white.
The pathway that led to hell’s gates inclined downward. I floated toward the gates, unable to stop my descent. Somehow, I knew I could never come back once I went through them, and I was afraid.
As I approached the gates, some kind of creature met me. My eyes were looking straight ahead, riveted on hell. I never looked directly at this creature, but I knew he was there.
Although being baptized in water and belonging to the church are right, it takes more than that to miss hell and go to Heaven.
I tried to slow down my descent, but the creature took me by the arm to escort me in. At that moment, from way above the darkness, a male voice spoke. I don’t know what he said because it was a foreign language to me. This voice uttered only a few words, and hell shook from top to bottom.
When the voice spoke, the creature let go of my arm. I began floating upward toward the earth and away from hell. It was as if a great suction or magnet drew me upward from my back.
Before I reached the top of the pit, I could see the lights on earth once again. When I came out of that dark cavern, I was on the porch just outside the south bedroom. I saw grandpa’s porch swing and the giant cedar trees in the yard. Then I went right through the wall and seemed to leap inside my body the way you would slip your foot inside a boot.
This happened three times that night. The third time as I began descending into that darkness, I cried out, “God! I belong to the church! I’ve been baptized in water!” I was trying to tell Him that I was going in the wrong direction. But there was no answer—only the echo of my voice through the darkness.
The second time I cried a little louder, “God! I belong to the church! I’ve been baptized in water!” Again, no answer.
The third time I screamed, “GOD! I BELONG TO THE CHURCH! I’VE BEEN BAPTIZED IN WATER!”
Although being baptized in water and belonging to the church are both good, it takes more than that to miss hell and go to Heaven! The Bible says, “You must be born again” (John 3:3)! You must know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
When I came to the bottom of that pit, the creature again met me and took me by the arm. I intended to put up a fight to keep from going in. But I only managed to slow my descent just a little.
Thank God that voice spoke again, and hell shook. It just trembled. That creature took his hand off my arm. I floated back up to earth. Only this time, as I ascended through the darkness, I prayed, “O God! I come to You in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all sin!”
When I leaped back into my body, my natural voice picked up my prayer right in the middle of a sentence. It was 7:40 p.m. All of this happened in 10 minutes. When my heart stopped beating the first time, Momma ran outside to the porch and began praying and calling on God at the top of her voice.
When I came back into my body the third time, Momma and I were praying so loud that the traffic backed up for two blocks around our house! You get serious with God when something like that happens to you—and you get loud!
Seeing hell will scare you into wanting to get right with God! It scared me, and I made Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior that night. When I did, I was transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:13)!
Kenneth E. Hagin
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