What in the world is going on here? Two young boys who had near-death experiences and vivid stories of heaven make both of them New York Times best-selling authors within six months of each other.
The two books are shaking up the publishing industry, not to mention the spiritual ideas of millions of readers.
Some suggest God may have chosen new messengers to convey some very old good news.
Critics and non-critics alike are calling them “inspiring,” “uplifting” and “miraculous.”
In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his 6-year-old, Alex, were involved in a horrific car accident. The impact of the crash on Alex caused what is medically termed an “internal decapitation – his skull was detached from his spinal column. Needless to say, with Alex in a coma, the prognosis for survival was not good.
When the accident occurred, the Internet spread the news of Alex’s condition. He was the focal point of prayer from around the world. Even people in Afghanistan were praying for him, according to letters received.
Two months later, Alex awoke with an incredible story to tell. He shared detailed recollections of the accident scene and the emergency room – neither of which he could have seen with earthly eyes. He talked about the music he heard in heaven – nothing like he had ever heard before. And he talked about his conversations with Jesus.
“The first thing I saw was the angels catch daddy,” said Alex. “The car hit us. I slammed into my seatbelt. Daddy flew out of the car and the angels caught him.”
When father Kevin first heard that story, he feared his son had brain damage from the collision.
“I really did, because I thought he was imagining things,” he said.
But it soon became clear Alex knew things he couldn’t have known from the five senses.
“He told me that he saw me go away in the ambulance, but I never told him I went away in an ambulance. Why would he think I was in an ambulance? Cause I didn’t have any injuries.”
Alex’s answer: “I was in heaven then.”
Alex recounts talking to Jesus from above as he watched fireman take his body out of the car and put him on a flat board. He recalls his dad screaming, “Alex, Alex, Alex,” making a phone call and talking to a man in a blue suit by the helicopter.
When his mother first heard the story, she corrected her son, suggesting the man was wearing an orange suit. But, after checking with the helicopter crew, they confirmed the man was in a blue suit.
Alex remains paralyzed, but his experience has left him positive and upbeat – assuring anyone and everyone that he will one day walk again.
“I asked him one time do you ever get sad?” said his father. “His response was ‘What do you mean?’ I said, I don’t know, do you ever get sad? He said, ‘Why would I be sad?'”
Alex was the first child ever to undergo a complex surgical procedure in which doctors replaced his ventilator with a breathing apparatus called a pacer.
“He was the first child that we ever implanted with a ventilator,” said Dr. Ray Onders. “Alex’s injury is really like a decapitation. When I looked at his X-rays, it almost looked like his entire head was removed from his spinal cord.”
The injury was not unlike the one suffered by actor Christopher Reeve. It was Dr. Onders who performed the surgery that got Reeve off the ventilator.
“The whole time I was there (heaven),” says Alex, “I was basically in God’s palace.”
Here’s his description of what he remembers: “When I arrived in heaven, I was inside the gate. The gate was really tall, and it was white. It was very shiny, and it looked like it had scales like a fish. I was in the inner heaven and everything was brighter and more intense on the inside of the gate. It was perfect. Perfect is my favorite word for describing heaven.”
But Alex was also cautioned, he says, not to relate some of what he saw and was told in heaven – not even to his father.
“We probably only know about 10 percent of what he knows,” said Kevin. “I think he is very protective about it.”
In the years since the 2004 accident, Alex has made remarkable progress. He can now stand for periods of time in a supportive frame and walk on a treadmill with assistance.
As for the other best-selling young author, Colton, his was the story of a wrongly diagnosed illness – a case of acute appendicitis and a badly ruptured appendix that went untreated for five days.
Then the lifeless 4-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
When it was all over, Colton survived and recovered fully.
But that was just the beginning of the amazing saga.
Four months later, Colton began telling his parents things he could not or should not have known.
“Mom, I have two sisters,” he said. “You had a baby die in your tummy didn’t you?”
Sonja, his Mom, was shocked. When she asked him who told him, he said, “She did Mommy, she said she died in your tummy.” Todd and Sonja had never told their son about the miscarriage Sonja had before Colton was born.
Colton went on to tell his mom that she was a girl and, “she looked familiar and she started giving me hugs and she was glad to have someone in her family up there.”
Asked by his Dad about his hospital experience, Colton said: “You know, Dad, the angels sang to me while I was there.”
Colton said that while on the operating table he went to heaven and that he met his great-grandfather Pop. Colton says his grandfather didn’t look like the man in the photo in his house, but instead looked like the man in the picture sent months later by his Grandmother, a young man without glasses.
Later he described Jesus, and he talked about Armageddon and how God told him his father would fight in the final battle. Although Todd was a pastor, he says he never talked detail like this with his preschool-aged son.
After years of stories and new details, Todd’s friends and members of his church started asking him to write his stories down. They encouraged Todd to write a book, which wasn’t something he wanted to do or had any idea how to do.
Now Colton’s stories of Heaven are documented in a book titled “Heaven is for Real.”
Like Alex’s “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven,” it’s already a runaway bestseller with some 500,000 copies in print.