Don Piper: 90 Minutes in Heaven

don-piperWhat a Friend We Have in Jesus, indeed!

This hymn, originally written as a poem by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855 with the tune being composed in 1868 by Charles Crozat Converse, played on my heart the night of Sunday, October 23, 2016 as I sat in the audience of San Angelo, Texas’ Glen Meadows Baptist Church to hear from Don Piper of 90 Minutes in Heaven.  Don Piper was a pastor and he died on January 18, 1989. He was run over by a truck on his way to church. So what was he doing in San Angelo, Texas in 2016 you ask? He was singing.

What a friend we have in Jesus

90 minutes after being killed in a car crash, Don Piper began singing What A Friend We Have in Jesus with a pastor who had crawled underneath the tarp and into his m070114_ff_pastor2_640auled and mangled car to place his hand on Don’s shoulder and pray over him. Jumping to the rescue a crew worked to remove him from the wreckage and transfer him to a hospital to begin the long and painful journey back from the dead and to recovery.

All our sins and griefs to bear

Don did not handle his recovery well, turning to depression in the midst of his pain and a yearning to return to heaven where he says he spent 90 minutes.

And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Realizing that Don was not strong enough to fight for his own life, a world-wide prayer chain that radiated out from Don’s church community in Alvin, Texas was started by one of his friends. Today, Don continues to meet people who prayed for him.

Prayer is powerful and often unemployed, but “God is still in the miracle business,” Don said.


Oh, what peace we often forfeit

Oh, what needless pain we bear

A faith re-igniting message of perseverance, Don shared how he learned how it was not about him but rather taking his experience and using it to comfort and witness to others in similar situations.

“People want to hear from someone who gets it,” says Don who lived with a Fixater on his arm and leg for over a ydon-piper-wearing-the-ilizarov-frameear. The painful medical device works to fuse bones by turning rods that are inserted into the separated bones in order to eventually produce a connection.

All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Don credits prayer, people, and God for his miraculous recovery. Too often, we think it is better to suffer on alone, denying others the right to comfort us. What Don seeks to teach others today is that it is not about us, but it is about others and glorifying God’s will.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?

Living a christian life does not excuse us from suffering. If our faith cannot weather the storms of life, than what good is our faith? What living a christian life does for us in times of suffering is offer encouragement and reassurance by allowing us to feel God’s presence and guiding hand. He is with us in our pain and He will deliver us from our suffering in His time and in His way.

don_piper_in_hospitalWe should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

In bearing through our suffering, we must turn to God and, as Christians, use our pain for ministry to others. Prayer is our strength and endurance in this time of trial. We must believe in a great God, as Don Piper entitled the sermon that sat in his passenger seat on the night of the accident. Today, the blood-stained sermon is kept in his home office as a reminder of how far he has come with God.

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Don Piper re-ignited my faith by witnessing his own. His story is touching and his love for others flows out as he sings his song. Concluding his talk, Don invited us to reach out to those who are struggling themselves, reminding us that during his 90 minutes in heaven he was surrounded by those friends and family who shaped his walk with Christ. Most meaningful, and the part where I started crying, was when Don told us that if he did not get to meet us tonight then he hoped he would get to meet us in heaven, as someone who influenced our christian journey.

Don gets it. I get it. God gets it. You do not have to go it alone. Reach out to someone who gets it, and find endurance in prayer.

I pray that one day I may meet you in heaven, where we will spend much longer than 90 minutes. Great is thy faithfulness!

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