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A man's account of a visit to heaven -- and back

JAKARTA (JP): Before Feb. 8, 1987, Amir Sebayang, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Gatot Subroto Army Hospital, knew where he was going in life.

But that all changed on the night of his heart attack.

As he was undressing for bed, he suddenly lost all strength and broke out in a heavy sweat. He collapsed and called to his wife, who, along with his brother-in-law, rushed him to the emergency ward of the hospital he worked at.

He was unconscious by the time an EEG was hooked up to him. It gave a flat line reading and the doctors said he was suffering a cardiac arrest. The doctor in charge immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and continued working on him for the next hour, intent on reviving his patient, a fellow doctor.

Amir, meanwhile, was fully aware of what was going on. In a later recount of his experience of that hour he was pronounced clinically dead, Amir said he felt suddenly free from his body and was floating above the emergency room scene, watching with great interest at how the doctors were pushing on his chest with fervor.

Amir reached out and held the arm of one doctor, but he showed no signs of acknowledging Amir was beside him. Amir then asked the team of doctors why they were performing CPR, but nobody answered.

With a last look at his body lying on the table, Amir disappeared from the emergency room and felt like he was flying through a dark area. He found himself in the midst of what he could only describe as a large airfield with many people, all dressed in white like they were on the haj pilgrimage, walking around.

Two gentlemen approached him and said his name, telling him they had been instructed to pick him up. They bid him welcome, but Amir was immediately cautious.

"Who asked you to pick me up?" he asked.

"You'll know later, just follow us," they said, and Amir complied.

He said he was taken to a wondrous flight of stairs, which left him in complete awe.

At the top of the stairs, a road began, and Amir asked where they were going.

"We will go along a road that you have never seen before, and that you have never known before, but this place will be very beautiful to you."

True to their words, he saw along the way beautiful snow-capped mountains that reminded him of the Swiss alps, with clouds hovering close by, leaving him breathless with their beauty.

They came to a tall building, and inside a room were many people sitting and facing a podium.

A man who was standing inside greeted him, and told him he had "arrived".

Although Amir could not see his face clearly as light from a window behind him obscured his features, he was struck by how incredibly handsome the man was, and Amir asked him why he had been called.

"There is a job for you to do, but not at the moment, so you'll have to wait awhile," the man said. He then instructed the two escorts to make sure Amir was treated well and given everything he needs, but with one condition: that he was not shown hell.

Ahead of him were two doors, one on the left and the other on the right, and Amir was warned not to pass through them, as one led to heaven and the other to hell.

Amir asked who the man was who gave the instructions, and the two escorts replied Gabriel. The answer shocked Amir, and he again wondered why he had been summoned, but the escorts said they could not answer him.

Out of a morbid curiosity, Amir asked to see hell, but was flatly refused.

"OK, I'll pay you. I want to pay you," Amir insisted, but the pair said money was not relevant there and they did not need anything.

Going home

Frustrated by the length of time he felt he was waiting, Amir declared that it would be better if he went home if there was nothing to do.

The escorts asked him to be patient as the job would be revealed in a short time, but Amir was bored and demanded that Gabriel be asked again on it.

Two more escorts came and brought him back to Gabriel who said, "Hey, Sebayang, you're easily bored, so you can either go home first or stay here."

Amir said it would be better to go home, to which Gabriel replied, "OK, but this job is still waiting for you and you'll be called again."

The escorts took him back to the stairs and stopped there, saying that they could not go any further.

Amir went back down the stairs and when he reached the last step, everything disappeared and he felt that he had come to the surface of a deep well, complete with water dripping on him.

The drips turned out to be the sweat of doctors who were perspiring heavily as they leaned over him and performed CPR.

"He's conscious, he's conscious!" Amir's assistant, Dr. Sabri, was shouting, again back in the emergency room. The EEG slowly showed a regaining heart rhythm, and Amir opened his eyes.

It has been a slow recovery since his resuscitation, and Amir took a long break from his practice to learn to walk properly again after he had a repeat heart attack some months later, which landed him again in the hospital.

At the time of his second heart attack, he said he was fully conscious, and again he met his two escorts. This time, he demanded to know what his job was and they said there were actually three tasks, but they would not reveal them.

During the attack he said he begged for God to take him, as the pain was unbearable, but instead he recovered.

"Because God didn't take me then, I lost hope, it was like a guarantee that I wasn't going to die, so I've been in the rehabilitation program until now," Amir said.

During his time in the program, he has talked to those who are terminally ill with cancer as well as other heart attack patients to give them hope with his experience of his trip to the other side.

"I tell them I have had the experience of dying and there is no reason to fear death. Actually, death is pleasurable, very pleasurable, because that was what I experienced from going to heaven, although I did not see hell. And I'm not afraid of death at all. If I have to die, let me die, that's OK."

He said that until now, he was unaware of the three tasks he must complete, although he said one of them might be undertaking the haj pilgrimage which he and his wife will do in December, 15 years after his near death experience.

But for Amir, he has all the proof he needs for what scientists are striving to attain and it is more important for him to tell his story to as many people as possible.

"I want to share this story with everyone so we can remember God in our lives." (Maria Kegel)

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