I just finished reading Heaven Is for Real, by Todd Burpo (with Lynn Vincent), about a four-year-old boy named Colton Bumpo. While undergoing life-saving surgery after a misdiagnosis nearly killed him, Colton visited Heaven, sat in the lap of Jesus, and then came back to describe what Heaven looked like and who he saw there. Sounds like the typical near-death experience, huh? I don't always believe these stories, but Todd Burpo is a small-town Nebraska pastor who tells this story with great care, years after the events took place.
It's one thing to have your child say he sat in the lap of Jesus, which could be dismissed as a dream by a child familiar with Christian teachings. Harder to explain are the things Colton told his parents over the next few months.
For instance, he told his mother that he'd seen his "other sister" in Heaven. Colton's parents had never revealed to him that they'd lost a baby years before Colton's own birth. Colton also told them he'd seen his great-grandfather, who had died decades before Colton's birth. When his parents showed him a photograph of his great-grandfather as an old man, Colton didn't recognize him. But when they had a relative unearth and mail a picture of the great-grandfather when he was a young man in his twenties (a photo that included other people), the four-year-old promptly identified his great-grandfather. Colton also correctly described what both of his parents were doing when he was in surgery (his dad was in a small room yelling at God for abandoning his family, and his mother was elsewhere, praying and phoning friends and relatives).
Their son's stories got the Burpos thinking more about the reality of Heaven. But the main reason they wrote the book was to offer comfort to people who had lost loved ones, especially children and babies. After telling their story in church and elsewhere, it became clear that people were finding great comfort in what Colton said he had seen: many, many children. Perhaps this book will be used to comfort the many women who regret their abortions by helping them understand more fully that their lost babies are with God.
As I write this, Heaven is for Real is currently at number 12 on the Kindle bestseller list, and number 100 on the New York Times bestseller list. It's a short but amazing book. I couldn't put it down.