Valdosta Daily Times

November 18, 2012

‘90 Minutes in Heaven’ film coming

Elizabeth Butler
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Don Piper of the Houston, Texas, area died in a horrific accident on the way to his church in 1989.

That same Don Piper spoke at Northside Baptist Church’s women’s banquet, Traditions, last weekend.

Piper said the book he wrote with Cecil Murphey in 2004, “90 Minutes in Heaven,” which was a New York Times bestseller, is going to be made into a movie by Sherwood Baptist of Albany, Ga., which produced “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof.”

Piper had just left a pastors’ conference in January 1989 and was headed back to his church when an 18-wheeler veered across the line on a bridge, ran over Piper’s car, and caused two other cars to crash. No one was hurt but 38-year-old Piper. Four paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

But one of the pastors from the conference Piper had attended got caught in the traffic jam from the accident. He and his wife walked half a mile to the site, and the pastor asked the police officer if he could pray for anyone. Although he was told the guy in the red car was dead, the Lord impressed upon him to pray for the victim. Insisting that he had to touch him when he prayed, the pastor finally convinced the officer to let him go over to the crushed red car.

The pastor put his hand on Piper’s right arm — the only place in his body not broken — prayed and then began singing hymns. When he started singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” Piper joined in with him. The pastor quickly got out of the car and yelled, “The dead man’s singing.”

Piper would spend 13 excruciating months in a trauma hospital and undergo 34 surgeries before he could go home. Despite heavy drugs, his pain was 24-7 ... he was unable to sleep until he passed out. He battled fits of deep depression, not knowing whether he would lose his left leg or if he would one day recover.

He had wanted to stay in heaven where he spent 90 minutes, but was pulled back to Earth by prayers sent up for him. Piper said he did not see a bright light or a tunnel, but was immediately at one of the 12 gates of heaven. And his loved ones who had gone before him were there to greet him — His great-grandmother, who had osteoporosis, walked with a severely curved body and without her false teeth which she only wore on Sunday, was now standing straight and had a beautiful smile.

His beloved Papa, his grandfather who was a carpenter and had lost fingers on both hands, now looked great and had all 10 of his digits.

Piper said heaven appealed to his senses ... the brilliance of the place ... the whooshing of the angel’s wings which lifted him up ...

“Heaven is a real place,” he concluded his speech, “and Jesus is the way to get there.”