This story was on the TV news this morning and on one of our local talk radio programs. When I heard some of the details, I had to go find an online source of the story. The following story by Lori Henshey of the Examiner.com is especially intriguing when you look at the very last paragraph of the “Part Two” segment. It involves a young girl, an artist prodigy, who has had a similar “out of body” experience AND has drawn a picture of Jesus.
That story I have to try to find. In spite of Lori Henshey’s mention that her story was “next”, I’ve not found it yet. But, as intriguing as this is, you can bet I will be looking.
Colton Burpo Goes to Heaven Part One.
January 3rd, 2011
Colton Burpo describes a visitation to heaven in startling detail.
A few years ago, a three-year-old boy named Colton Burpo traveled to heaven. There he saw God, sat in Jesus’ lap, met John the Baptist (he was nice, Colton said), was shown an impending battle between good and evil, visited with deceased loved ones, viewed rainbows of otherworldly colors and noticed gentle animals milling about. Darkness did not exist in this heavenly sphere, Colton insisted, because the light of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit shone continuously.
The precursor of this event began just prior to family plans to travel from Imperial, Nebraska, to Greeley, Colorado, for a Fourth of July vacation. Colton came down with vomiting and diarrhea the day before the family was set to leave, which his doctor diagnosed as stomach flu. Next day, Colton seemed to recover, so the family continued on with their travel plans.
A day into the trip, however, Colton relapsed and began to vomit almost continually. His six-year-old sister, Cassie, became sick, as well, so Todd and Sonja chocked it up to a return of the stomach flu. However, as Cassie quickly recovered, it became clear Colton was much sicker than his doctor had originally thought.
In fact, his condition deteriorated so quickly that his parents, Todd and Sonya, rushed their son back to Nebraska to see his family doctor, where he was admitted to a nearby hospital for tests. While his blood work indicated nothing irregular, CT scans showed a strange and very large mass in his tiny tummy; doctors admitted they knew neither what the mass was nor what had caused it.
When Colton’s parents asked the doctor several times if Colton’s appendix might have burst – there was a history of this in the family – the doctor insisted that it had not because his blood work showed no signs of infection, i.e., a high white cell count.
Days past and Colton became sicker and weaker. Todd, a pastor, began to see the shadow of death on his young son’s face, a look Todd had often seen as he administered to parishioners in their final days of life. Panicked, Colton’s parents took him to a different hospital. There, Colton was immediately diagnosed with a ruptured appendix which had been leaking poison into his little body for five solid days.
The very sick little boy was taken immediately into emergency surgery. Though they kept it to themselves, the hospital’s medical staff secretly did not expect him to survive. It was during this surgery that Colton claims to have experienced his visit to heaven.
Dr. Melvin Morse, a pediatrician famous for his studies and books on children’s near-death experiences, has described many of his young patient’s brushes with death. He shows pictures his patients draw of a colorful heaven with Jesus and God, angels, rainbows and beautiful fields of flowers.
The difference is that all of Morse’s patients at some point actually died and were brought back to life. Colton – at lease to anyone’s knowledge – did not at any point actually die, although critically ill and definitely hovering on the brink of death.
A near-death experience occurs when a person – child or adult – actually experiences physical death and is brought back to life either spontaneously or through medical intervention. The name is a bit misleading, since it does not mean someone, like Colton, who is critically ill and near death. It means someone who has actually died and then returned to life.
Interestingly, people can and do experience certain aspects of the near-death experience when critically ill or in imminent physical danger – out-of-body experiences, known as OBEs, and life reviews are sometimes reported. This, however, does not explain Colton’s detailed experience, which happened to him while in surgery, especially since he was under general anesthesia and unconscious.
During surgery, Colton left his body and watched from above as doctors desperately worked to rid his body of the raging infection. He then traveled through hospital walls where he saw his father praying alone in a small room and his mother praying while on the phone.
After he left the confines of the hospital, Colton described in detail entering a heavenly realm where he saw angels, or spirit guides, Jesus and God. He met his grandfather – whom he had never seen as a young man – but later picked him from a photo when this man was healthy and in his youth. Colton didn’t recognize photos of his grandfather when he was an old man. As Colton says, in heaven "nobody is old and nobody wears glasses."
Even more shockingly, Colton told his parents that he had two sisters. When further questioned by Sonja, her little boy insisted that he had two sisters, but one of them lived in heaven. She had dark hair, he said, and seemed to know him immediately. She asked about her mom and dad.
What Colton couldn’t have known was that before he was born his mother had suffered a miscarriage. Though it had happened too early to determine the baby’s sex, Todd and Sonja became convinced that this child was their lost baby girl. Colton insisted she was in heaven and that God had adopted her. She was, Colton said, very excited to see her family when they would finally enter heaven.
Another very poignant statement from Colton came when he asked Jesus why he had to be crucified. It was, Jesus told him, so people could meet his Father. How simple and clear an answer to such an incredibly complicated question!
Colton Burpo Goes to Heaven. Part Two.
January 9th, 2011
In part one of this story, we discussed how three-year-old Colton Burpo became deathly ill from a burst appendix, which was misdiagnosed as severe stomach flu.
By the time of the surgery, poison from the burst appendix had been seeping through Colton’s tiny body for a full five days. Doctors and medical staff did not expect him to survive. Not only did he survive, he thrived, even after a relapse that leaked even more poison into his body, necessitating a second surgery to drain several abscesses.
About a year later, the family drove by the hospital where Colton was saved. When Todd asked Colton if he remembered the hospital, Colton said yes, that was where the angel sang to him. Shocked, Todd asked what the angels looked like. Colton said one of them looked like Grandpa Dennis, but it wasn’t him “‘cause Grandpa Dennis wears glasses.”
“Dad,” Colton said, “Jesus had the angels sing to me because I was so scared. They made me feel better.”
“Jesus was there?” his father asked incredulously. Absolutely, Colton answered. In fact, he had been sitting in Jesus’ lap.
After this stinger of a comment, Colton went on to explain he had seen the doctor working on his body during surgery, as well as what his parents were doing at the time. How? “’Cause I could see you,” Colton explained. “I went up out of my body and I was looking down and I could see the doctor working on my body. And I saw you and Mommy. You were in a little room praying; and Mommy was in a different room, and she was praying and talking on the phone.”
So began the revelations of a little boy about what happened when he nearly died. Nearly. At no point did Colton die during surgery. He was near death, yes, but he did not die, at least according to official hospital records. This counts out what is called a near-death experience, which happens when someone dies and is brought back to life either through medical intervention or spontaneously. However, there are documented claims by people who have come near to death and left their physical bodies behind. These are called out-of-body experiences, or OBE’s. Perhaps this defines Colton’s experience.
As time passed and Colton turned four-years-old, he began to talk of his experience in more detail. He said Jesus had a cousin, whom he met. Jesus told Colton that his cousin had Baptized Him. Colton didn’t know his name, but he called him nice. Was this John the Baptist? Anyone familiar with the Bible would be surprised by that description. Fanatical, intense, relentless and wild, perhaps, but nice?
All of Colton’s descriptions were given in the present tense, as if what he saw was now. He said Jesus has a rainbow horse that only He is allowed to ride. He described many beautiful colors, explaining heaven is where all rainbow colors are. Jesus has markers, Colton said – which Todd, a pastor, later understood were the marks in Jesus’ hands and feet from the Crucifixion. Jesus has brown hair, Colton said, with hair on his face (a beard) and “Oh, Dad, his eyes were so pretty!”
Jesus wears a white robe with a purple sash – the only one in heaven who wore purple. And “he had this gold thing on his head,” Colton said. It had a “diamond thing in the middle, which was kind of pink.”
Colton said he did homework in heaven and that Jesus was his teacher. “Jesus gave me work to do and that was my favorite part of heaven. There were lots of kids, Dad.”
Colton explained that everyone in heaven has wings and all fly, except for Jesus who moves up and down like an elevator. He also described God, saying He and His chair are "reaaally big." He also tells how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.
He said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each.
Todd asked his son – considering all he had done in heaven – how long he had been there. “Three minutes,” Colton answered matter-of-factly and turned to his toys to play.
Eventually Todd Burpo, with Lynn Vincent, wrote a book about his son’s experience. Colton chose the title: Heaven is for Real. The book, with its entire title, Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, is available through Amazon.com and Thomas Nelson books.
Did Colton Burpo go to Heaven and experience other things he described? Perhaps so. One thing is certain: the story is truly remarkable and a mystery difficult to write off as fantasy. It also corresponds to another child’s story of visiting heaven, where she describes things that Colton seems to have seen. A painter and child prodigy, her portrait of Jesus is the only one Colton has seen that he says looks exactly like His face. We will visit her story next.