More on a terrifying brush with hell
What's it like to descend toward hell?
"It was an absolutely terrifying experience," according to Randall Rathbun, a research mathematician in Oregon who got a glimpse during a severe car crash back on August 30, 2002. "I could sense that my descent was quickening, faster and faster." It was like free-falling "down an empty elevator shaft."
We referred to him in a recent article, and called Randall for more details.
"I was being taken to hell," repeated the engineer when we spoke to him. "It was so terrifying that the human mind can't comprehend the experience. I was bound in three chains and a very powerful spirit was holding me. It was this thing that was five feet tall but maybe three or four hundred times as strong as man. An extremely loud scream burst right beside my head." The scream came from the demon and wasso loud, emphasizes Rathbun, it almost deafened him. "It was a voice that was screaming like a jet engine... an angry defiant voice... And I recognized what it now was saying... 'He's mine, he's mine. His name is liar, liar, liar, and I am taking him to the Lake of Fire.'"
Can you imagine?
Rathbun, who was working on the F-22 stealth fighter for TRW in California at the time -- formerly a brilliant student who'd been valedictorian of his high school class and was magna cum laude in engineering at Montana State University -- says he believes the entity taking him to hell was one he'd glimpsed many years before, during the early 1970s, after he was "born again." He says its head was "misshapen, not human, like a skull but not a skull, with skin that was dark leather and almost black and looked like somebody who'd been dead for a thousand years -- pure hate. Eyes that were deep-set with two fiery points of light that were like ice picks when I looked at them and they pierced mine. He had a desire to kill me."
The engineer had a history of problems, starting with a molestation when he was a seventh-grader at the hands of an older abusive student -- which he believes opened a "door" to evil (we call them "wounds") -- and graduating later in life to a pattern of viewing soft-core pornography, which led to visiting prostitutes on weekend nights even as he attended church services on Sunday.
Emotional issues. A near-nervous breakdown. A voice that told him to take his hand off the wheel of his car just before he crashed into a concrete pillar. He was in a downward spiral even before the crash. He says his wayward lifestyle began by what he viewed on the internet and worries about others, citing a recent survey by a major polling company, the Barna Group, for Proven Men Ministries, showing that more than half of Christian men view pornography (he calls that "terrifying," based on where it nearly led him!).
(It's a good Lenten goal: to have total control if the eyes tend to gravitate to the wrong thing. How many of us are constantly barraged -- everywhere -- by salacious images?)
It was only after Randall cried out to God ("Why, why is this happening to me!") that the Lord drew him from the shaft; three scriptures to do with the wages of sin were suddenly displayed before him, not just words but speaking to him (Romans 6:23, John 8:34 and Galatians 6:7). As he told the other interviewer, "I could see a long, long trail of sexual sins. Worse yet, I could see how I had deceived myself. I had truly deceived myself into believing that I could willfully sin, yet God's grace would cover me." In other words, he felt he could sin but everything would be okay if he simply asked God to forgive him afterward.
A little sin won't hurt; God will understand.
How many fall into this deception?
Getting back to the encounter with hell, Rathbun related to the reporter that as he fell down that "shaft," the atmosphere had become crushing beyond reckoning. "It began to get very warm and oppressive. I began to have trouble breathing; it was as if thick smoke was starting to smother everything," he told a reporter. He heard a roar and screams. "It was the worst screams you can imagine... thousands of people screaming... no, millions of people screaming. The screams were so awful, that you couldn't bear them. Just one scream alone would make the hair on the back of your arm stand up. But I was hearing millions of them."
"They were screams of torment, screams of pain, screams of suffering, screams of obscenities, screams of rebellion, but most of all -- screams of hell by the damned."
The roar of the flames was constant. "It sounded like continuing rolling thunder, or of flames consuming but yet not consuming. I had heard fire while living on the earth and had seen 100-foot flames incinerate hillsides in a few seconds, but the flames on earth were nothing compared to the sound I was beginning to hear." More than a single sin, it's a pattern that causes us trouble with God, Rathbun emphasizes. Apattern.
Yet, God -- so tremendous in mercy -- had pity on Rathbun and after a moment in which everything "went dark," he suddenly found himself far above the pit -- what he describes as three thousand miles above the earth.
God spoke to him and said it was the suffering of Jesus -- the Precious Blood -- that had saved him: that had given him that second chance. In his rendition, the Lord told him he had a major decision to make and that he would be given the time he needed -- returned to earth -- to make it. "I trust you, My son," the Lord intoned -- with a Voice that Randall claims had "so much authority -- total absolutely authority -- the whole place just shook with that authority. You hear that Voice and know He is the most powerful force in the universe!"
Hearing that God trusted him "woke something inside of me. I don't want to hurt Him," says Rathbun emotionally.
This gets back to the idea of "patterns": What wrong patterns are in our lives? Do we examine our consciences in prayer?
The key to shaking his sinful habit, says the engineer, is simply drawing closer to God -- "falling in love" with Him, in Rathbun's words. "We're constantly watched by the good side and the bad side," he says, "and the dark spirit will take advantage of any opening." Rathbun believes he was allowed to return in part to let others know what he witnessed. "We're becoming lawless," he says of current society. "Disconnected more and more from God. He knows our hearts and is very interested in the purity of them."
During the alleged experience, Randall, who currently works designing programs for a financial investor, was also shown parts -- again, glimpses -- of Heaven.
That was as good as hell was bad -- actually, infinitely more so; pleasant beyond imagining.
"It is totally awesome," says the engineer. "It's just going to blow you away. You'll see what an incredibly, incredibly gracious loving Father He is.
"In Heaven, everything is alive. The grass there vastly exceeds grass on earth. And there was this praise and worship music you could always tune into. Everything in Heaven is giving praise to God. I found myself among wonderful blossoms and fruit, an apricot aroma. Totally delightful and pure. When I grew up we had a special apricot tree that we really enjoyed. It bore so much fruit that the branches nearly broke with apricots. I loved that and God knew it and puts you in a place in Heaven where you fit in, and where your gifts are utilized. You still have your gifts when you die. Mathematics continues in Heaven -- a fundamental knowledge, as theology is also a fundamental knowledge. I was allowed to 'taste' Heaven but not enter the 'city.' And God saved the best for last: I was allowed to see seraphim singing -- so pure, so holy, so filled with worship of God, like nothing you have ever heard, like a 16-part harmony or higher and flames of holiness. They were exalting God so much it just melted you."
This time, good flames; this time, purity; this time the flames of the Holy Spirit.
[resources: Retreat, W. Palm Beach, Feb. 13: prophecy, afterlife, spiritual warfare, Florida's hidden role in U.S. Catholicism and future of nation and Struck By Lightning]
[article in Godreports]
[Footnote: Highlights of the Barba-Proven Men study: