Stories & Blog

Do We Go To Heaven When We Die?

Connie Neckers | August 2, 2022

One day I received a frantic call from my sister saying that her boyfriend had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. The doctors felt that the situation was dire, and that they would need to do immediate brain surgery in an attempt to save his life. My sister asked me if I could come to her home in Pennsylvania and stay for a while. She also asked me if I would do the eulogy for her boyfriend if he did not make it.

I started thinking about what I would say.

I liked George but I was uncomfortable with some of his choices. He was separated from his wife and living with my sister. He abandoned his family to enroll in college when my sister enrolled and wasn't doing much to support his teenage kids. He took a number of political science classes and decided to become a communist. He had also renounced his faith in God to become an atheist.

I started praying about George that night and I felt God respond to my inability to call out the good.

God did not see him with the same judgmental lens that I was using. He saw him as the little boy that had invited Jesus into his heart and attended Sunday School. He saw him as the little boy who had immigrated to the US from Germany and was teased by the neighborhood kids for his accent. He saw him as a man with great enthusiasm and a zest for life and learning who had positively impacted my sister and her children. He saw him as a creative man with a great deal of talent that was being used to make the world a more beautiful place. He saw him as his child, who was greatly loved.

Following the surgery, George was awake and appeared to be stable for a day or so. However, there continued to be swelling on his brain and a second surgery was needed. After that surgery, his brain activity was greatly affected and the doctors said that it was just a matter of hours before he would die. Because George had been an organ donor he was hooked up to a ventilator until the organ harvest team could travel the 3 hours to reach him.

My sister said her goodbyes and just wanted to go home, she was exhausted. I was exhausted.

When we got home we both laid down and within minutes I felt heat and tingling coursing through my hands. The song, "Give Glory to God in the Highest" seemed to be bubbling out of my heart. I felt this incessant urge to go back to George's bedside. I began to wonder if God was going to heal him.

When I got to his room, I felt the Lord guiding me to approach George and place my hands on his arm and shoulder. I don't pretend to know what this was or how God had made it possible but something akin to a current of electricity seemed to flow between us and I sensed George saying that he was scared although no words were exchanged. I assured him that he didn't need to be afraid, but he responded by telling me of all the bad choices he had made and the harm he had caused.

I was able to recount to him all the positive things that God had brought to my mind a few nights before while I was working on his eulogy. George told me that he had become an atheist and that God would never forgive him for renouncing his faith.

By this point I was seeing lights in front of my eyes, hearing beautiful music filling the room, and sensing an incredibly loving presence that I took to be Jesus. I encouraged George to reach out his hand, I said that I couldn't go any further with him but that Jesus loved him and he was right here, ready to take his hand if he would just let go.

Gently the lights and music faded, the holy presence slipped away and with it, so did George.

Here are some verses in the Bible that talk about life after death: 

John 5:25: Timeless truth I speak to you: The hour is coming, it is even now, when the dead shall hear the voice of The Son of God, and they who hear shall live.

Psalm 48:14: For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death

Isaiah 25:8: He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

I often wondered why I was privileged to be part of something so beautiful. It certainly took away my fear of death and gave me an understanding into the forgiving nature of our Lord.

It has allowed me to speak with certainty of the incredible lengths that God will go to in order to ensure a safe homecoming for one of his "lost lambs."


As I was leaving the hospital, I ran into George's parents. I told them everything that had happened and despite their sorrow they were delighted and relieved to know that their son had made peace with God and was safely home. It was later discovered that George's kidneys could not be donated, they were cancerous and the cancer had spread to his spine. He would have died an extremely painful death within 6 months.

My prayer for you: Loving Father, Thank you for George, both his life and the circumstances of his death. Thank you for this testimony to your love, faithfulness, and forgiveness. Thank you for loving us, even when we turn our backs on you. Lord, please use these words to comfort those who have worried or wondered about their own lost lambs. In the mighty and precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Connie Neckers is the pastor and director of the Vineyard's 55+ Ministry

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