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Book Review: 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

Updated on August 31, 2011
Don Piper in hospital after his accident
Don Piper in hospital after his accident
Don Piper today
Don Piper today

Man goes to Heaven and back

Do you believe it is possible for someone to go to Heaven and then come back to Earth to tell about it? That’s exactly what Don Piper claims happened to him in his book 90 Minutes in Heaven.

Piper, a Baptist preacher, had just left a church conference in Trinity Pines, Texas on January 18, 1989. On a whim, he decided to take a different route home. He soon found out the extent to which small decisions can radically alter a life. While crossing a bridge, he was hit head-on by a 18 wheel semi-truck. The EMTs arrived shortly after and checked for his pulse. Finding none, they pronounced him dead and covered his body with a tarp. His body was completely mangled with body parts hanging in every direction. The EMTs checked his pulse again 90 minutes later with the same result.

A fellow pastor and conference attendee named Dick Onerecker was traveling shortly behind Piper on the highway. When traffic came to a standstill due to the obstruction caused by the accident, Onerecker and his wife realized they would not be moving for a while, so they got out of their vehicle and walked toward the accident to see what happened.

When he arrived at the accident scene and saw Piper’s mutilated car, Onerecker received a strong impression from God that he should go to the dead victim in the wrecked vehicle and pray for him. The officer on the scene, knowing the gruesome condition Piper’s was in, made every attempt to discourage Onerecker from going near the body.

Onerecker persisted despite the officer’s insistence that the accident victim was dead and Onerecker would be wasting his time. Somehow, he managed to get inside the demolished car and to check Piper’s pulse for himself. It was as the police officer had said: the man was dead. Nevertheless, he put his hand on Piper’s shoulder and proceeded to pray and sing hymns. A short time later he was completely to shocked to discover that the victim was singing with him! The man was alive after having no pulse for over one and a half hours!

The author then describes what he was certain had been the glories of Heaven that he experienced during the interim between the accident and waking up in his battered bodily condition inside a barely recognizable car.

As he became fully conscious and cognizant of the terrible condition he was in, and gradually began to experience the unbearable pain that accompanied his injuries, Piper became angry at God for sending him back to Earth.

Only two chapters in the book are devoted to his otherworldly experience. In them he describes all the people he had known on earth who were now in Heaven and who had come to welcome him to the Celestial Kingdom. He claims to have had no awareness of anything he left behind, including his family. He attempts to describe the beauty and splendor of heaven, but admittedly finds his earthly vocabulary completely inadequate to give even a slightly meaningful glimpse into the utter grandeur of the heavenly realm.

After the two chapters describing his trip to Heaven, the rest of the book (which is the majority of the book) recounts the unbelievable horrors Piper endured in order to recover physically, and the grueling mental struggles he battled in order to come to terms with his “new life.” He was fortunate, however, in that he had no brain damage, which was no small miracle considering the deplorable condition his body was in.

After many, many months of anguish and “hell” on Earth due to pain and incapacitation, Piper finally recognized God’s purpose for taking him to Heaven and back. He found that he was able to greatly encourage and give hope to many people who had lost loved ones or who were struggling with painful illnesses and injuries of their own.

This book is an easy read and can be finished in a few hours.  It puts into perspective the short time we dwell on Earth. It brings home how easily our lives can be snuffed out and the importance of living our lives to help others.  See the You Tube video  below of Don Piper speaking about his experience in Heaven.

Interestingly, Don says he put off writing this book or even talking about his heavenly experience for many years. He found it very difficult to talk about and he wasn’t sure how well it would be received.

Eventually, with the encouragement of a friend, he did write the book and it has been translated into many languages. Piper has received numerous letters from people all over the world telling him how much his story has helped and blessed them

Don Piper talks about his experience in Heaven


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    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I read this book and the story is indeed remarkable. I've heard some people poo poo the story, but really, who are we to say this didn't happen to him. Thanks for this review. You did a good job.