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Author William “Terry” James has written best-selling books on Bible prophecy for more than two decades. In that community, he is an elder statesman who has garnered respect and credibility.
That gravitas is coming in handy with the launch of his new book, “Heaven Vision: Glimpses of Glory,” based in part on his own near-death experience following a heart attack two years ago.
“I never thought it would happen to me because I’m in such good shape,” he recalls today. “As they say, God’s got a sense of humor!”
As if the experience itself isn’t amazing enough, the “genesis” of the project is also unusual, as James recounts.
“To be honest, I’d never thought much about this subject of near-death experiences. I did know this: because of what I do, my mother (90) and aunt (85) wanted me to write a book about heaven,” James explained. “I started thinking about it, and the Lord put on my heart to do it. One of the hot button topics is near-death experiences – afterlife stuff. Christians, too, always are interested in this.”
James’ area of expertise, Bible prophecy, would have to play a part, he knew. Still, it was a project he planned to take slow as the last days of 2010 ran out.
“Yes, it needed to have some kind of eschatological slant, because that’s what I do,” James told WND. “So one morning, I’m walking around with coffee in my hand, thinking about this. I knew I would have to be careful with it because of wild speculations that usually accompany these stories.”
In short, respectable names in Bible prophecy circles usually don’t have anything to do with near-death experiences.
“In order to research and compile these stories for my book,” James said, “I wanted to make sure they were 100 percent verifiable – people who were clinically dead and then resuscitated.”
With those initial thoughts, James began the project. He started the book after compiling his notes in October. The next months were spent in research.
Then came Good Friday, April 22, 2011.
James had just finished a workout when everything went black.
“I thought I was having a dream,” he recalled, “a bad dream.”
First responders realized it was bad, but not a dream. As they worked on him, James struggled to understand what was happening.
“Because I had no idea where I was, I had no thought of Earth,” he said. “Had no idea why I was with a group of people. But I was feeling the most deeply inner warmth one can imagine. Totally enthralled and fascinated.”
Doctors were working frantically to bring James back; he’d been pronounced DOA, and he died two more times within an hour.
As this was going on, James was trying to speak to the medical staff and explain what he was seeing and experiencing.
He laughed: “I was trying to chat them up!”
In the place he found himself, he was struck by the number of young people who were with him. James, who is blind, could see perfectly.
“Young people were cheering me to come on,” he said.
He also discerned other things in those minutes he was gone: “I think we’ll be eternally young. And in seeing all the people, I liken it to Hebrews chapter 12:1,2 … it’s the ‘cloud of witnesses.’
“In my third visit,” he continued, “I was standing before the throne. I was right in the middle of this great throng, running a race, hands in the air victorious.”
Eventually, James’ heart attack was brought under control. He continues to recover, and believes God gave him this experience for several reasons: “The times in which we live. This is a critical message He wants out, and He used this method with me to get it out. There is an afterlife.”
James also relates the whole experience and purpose directly to his career path: “After my heart attack, I was sitting at my desk, and I heard an audible inner voice: ‘Terry, you remember all those times you prayed about confirmation of the [pre-tribulation view of the rapture]? What do you think that meeting with those youngsters was all about?’ Of course it’s confirmation, that’s what we are supposed to be doing at this moment in history!”
James feels the Bible prophecy message is critical for young people to grasp and believe.
James and his partner, Todd Strandberg, at RaptureReady (the world’s largest Bible prophecy website) get “lots” of hate mail, and he wants to make sure he is discerning God’s message for this age.
“I’m thankful He brought me back,” James says. “I know that after death, so many people will not be prepared. I want them to be ready.”