My hair is long overdue a cut, so I’ve headed to the salon that I’ve been using for years. It’s not my usual stylist today, so the conversation involves lots of information-sharing. Let’s call her Jane*.
Sitting in a swivel chair, facing the huge mirror in front of me, I’m watching as Jane uses her scissors with absolute precision. For one so young, she is deft and skilled. Her mouth works simultaneously with her hands, as she fills the space with friendly chit-chat, quickly disclosing what seems to be a very complex family situation.
Explaining how she used to live with her grandparents, she mentions how her grandpa, now in his 70s, has had multiple operations, and she’s not sure how he’s survived them all.
“There was one time when he died,” she reveals, matter-of-factly. “He was on the operating table, and the surgeons had opened him up, when he found himself floating high overhead, looking down at what was happening.” She pauses a moment. “When he returned to his body, he was told he’d been dead for 20 minutes.”
“Did he tell you what he saw?” I ask her.
“He was terrified,” she says. “He was in a really dark place, and he felt a deep sense of foreboding and fear.” She pauses a moment, holding her scissors aloft, and gazes out of the salon window, biting her lip, before continuing. “He told me and my brother that he really doesn’t want to die, and then he refused to tell us what else happened. He said it would really scare us.”
“Has your grandpa ever considered the Christian faith?” I ask her. “He’s of the generation that might have gone to church as children.”
Jane shakes her head. “Not that I know of,” she says. “Why are you asking?”
I explain to her that I’m a Christian, and that I know who I’m going to be with when I die, because I’ve put my trust in Jesus who, through his death and resurrection, has overcome death and the fear of death.
She looks puzzled. “I’ve never met anyone who believes that,” she says.
I go on to explain how I’ve heard several testimonies of Christians, who have been in a similar situation to her grandpa – lying on an operating table, having an out of body near death experience – but with the absolute opposite reaction to him.
She looks intrigued, as she ducks down to make sure she’s trimmed my hair in a straight line at the back. “Go on,” she says.
“All of them reported a bright white light, and an inexplicable sense of peace,” I tell her, and she stands up straight, her eyes widening in the mirror in front of me. “It’s because they have a certainty, through Jesus, about what will happen to them after they die,” I say.
Jane nods quietly. “It makes you think,” she says. “The last 18 months has made lots of us think about death, hasn’t it?” Her voice trails off, and I interject.
“You mean because of Covid?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says. “Everybody’s so scared of Covid. I know I’m scared of Covid. It’s because nobody wants to die.”
Before I know it, I’m explaining the Gospel to her, in the simplest possible terms – and suggesting she might want to consider the Christian faith, and her grandpa too.
She is interested but tells me her boyfriend would object. I fend off disappointment, while also sending up arrow prayers, asking God to help her remember, and reflect on, what we’ve talked about today.
Soon after, the conversation moves on.
One of the testimonies I was referencing, during my conversation with Jane, was this one.
It features an unassuming American man called Scott, who, decades ago, experienced a near death experience on an operating table, when he was pronounced dead for 20 minutes. The only people who knew about it were his wife, his children, and his medical team.
Last year, he decided to publicly share the testimony of what happened to him, because he could see that the Covid pandemic was causing many people to be afraid of dying – and he wanted them to know that they need not fear, if they would only find faith in Jesus.
Scott has a gentle manner, and the way he explains his story is tender and profound. It will be well worth the 17 minutes of your time that it will take to watch.
I have sent the link to Jane.
Are you, or any of your loved ones, afraid of death?
If you have faith in Jesus, you have nothing to fear, and your experience will be light-filled and peaceful, as Scott’s was. But if you don’t, it could well be dark and foreboding, as Jane’s grandpa found out. If that is you, please can I encourage you not to leave it too late? You can find out about the Christian faith through attending an Alpha course near you.
As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
*Jane is not her real name.