23 Minutes in Heaven
The following is an excerpt from "23 Minutes In Hell" and describes an experience that the individual, Bill Wiese states he went through. His book are available in various bookstores. It starts as he has just entered his experience after what he explains as dying or leaving his body.
As I lay there on the floor of that cell, I felt extremely weak. I noticed that I had a body, one that appeared just as it is now. Lifting my head, I began to look around. Immediately I realized that I was not alone in this cell. I saw two enormous beasts, unlike anything I had ever seen before.
These creatures were approximately ten to thirteen feet tall. These towering beasts were far, far beyond intimidating. It is one thing to be threatened by someone much taller than you. But these creatures were not of this natural world. I recognized that they were entirely evil, and they were gazing at me with pure, unrestrained hatred, which completely paralyzed me with fear. “Evil” and “Terror” stood before me. Those creatures were an intensely concentrated manifestation of those two forces.
I still had no idea where I was, and I felt utterly panicked. Although I had no point of reference, no familiarity with anything I was experiencing, and no understanding of how I got here, still I was faced with the unimaginable reality that a tortuous death seemed certain.
The creatures weren’t animals, but they weren’t human, either. Each giant beast resembled a reptile in appearance, but took on human form. Their arms and legs were unequal in length, out of proportion - without symmetry. The first one had bumps and scales all over its grotesque body. It had a huge protruding jaw, gigantic teeth, and large sunken-in eyes. This creature was stout and powerful, with thick legs and abnormally large feet. It was pacing violently around the cell like a caged bull, and its demeanor was extremely ferocious. The second beast was taller and thinner with very long arms and razor-sharp fins that covered its body. Protruding from its hands were claws that were nearly a foot long. Its personality seemed different from the first being. It was certainly no less evil, but it remained rather still.
I could hear the creatures speaking to each other, although, I could not identify what language it was, somehow I could understand their words. They were awful words, terrible, blasphemous language that spewed from their mouths expressing extreme hatred for God.
Suddenly they turned their attention toward me. They looked like hungry predators staring at their prey. I was terrified, like an insect in a deadly spider’s web. I felt helpless, trapped, and frozen with fear. I knew I had become the object of their hostility and I felt a violent, evil presence such as I had never felt before and greater than anything I could imagine. They possessed a hatred that far surpassed any hatred a person could have, and now that hatred was directed straight at me. I couldn’t identify what these beasts were yet, but I knew the meant me harm.
I wanted desperately to get up and run. But as I lay on that wretched cell floor, I noticed that I had absolutely no strength in my body. I could barely move. Why didn’t I have strength? I felt so defenseless. Psalm 88:4 says, “I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength.”
I knew that it was much more than physical weakness I was feeling. Indeed, it was weakness of every form. I was mentally and emotionally drained, even though I had only been there a few minutes. Most of us have experienced a loss of strength and energy after intense weeping, emotional distress, or grief. After a time of healing, we regain that strength through it may take years. However, at that moment I felt that there would never be a time for recuperating from the literal weight that had fallen upon me - a weight of hopeless despair.
Two more creatures came into the cell, and I had the feeling that these four beings had been “assigned” to me. I felt as though I was being “sized up” and that my torment would be their amusement. As they entered, suddenly the light vanished. It became absolutely pitch black. I had no idea why the sudden and intense darkness had begun. But I sensed that the light that had been present had been an intrusion and that the atmosphere had now returned to its normal state of darkness. Lamentations 3:6 states: “He has set me in dark places like the dead of long ago.”
One of the creatures picked me up. The strength of the beast was amazing. I was comparable to the weight of a water glass in its hand. Mark 5:3-4 describes a man possessed with a demon with these words: “…no one could bind him, not even with chains…the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces.”
Instinctively, I knew that the creature holding me had strength approximately one thousand times greater than a man. I cannot explain how I perceived that bit of information. Then the beast threw me against the wall. I crumbled onto the floor. It felt as though every bone in my body had been broken. I felt pain, but it was is if the pain was being somehow softened. I knew I did not experience the full brunt of the pain. I thought, How was it blocked?
The second beast, with its razor-like claws and sharp protruding fins, then grabbed me from behind in a bear hug. As it pressed me into its chest, its sharp fins pierced my back. I felt like a rag doll in its clutches in comparison to his enormous size. He then reached around and plunged his claws into my chest and ripped them outward. My flesh hung from my body like ribbons as I fell again to the cell floor. These creatures had no respect for the human body - how remarkably it is made. I have always taken care of myself by eating right, exercising, and staying in shape, but none of that mattered as my body was being destroyed right before my eyes.
I knew that I could not escape this torture via death, for not even that was an option. Death penetrated me, but eluded me. The creatures seemed to derive pleasure in the pain and terror they inflicted upon me. Psalm 116:3 says, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.” Oh, how I yearned for death, but there would be none. I pleaded for mercy, but they had none - absolutely no mercy. They seemed to be incapable of it, they were pure evil. No mercy existed in that place. Mercy is from God in heaven.
The mental anguish I felt was indescribable. Asking for mercy from such evil only seemed to heighten their desire to torment me more.
I was conscious of the fact that there was no fluid coming from my wounds. No blood, no water, nothing. At this time, I did not stop to wonder why. I was extremely nauseous from the terrible, foul stench coming from these creatures. It was absolutely disgusting, foul, and rotten. It was, by far, the most putrid smells I have ever encountered. If you could take every rotten thing you could imagine, such as an open sewer, rotten meat, spoiled eggs, sour milk, dead rotting animal flesh, and sulfur, and magnify it a thousand times, you might come close. This is not an exaggeration. The odor was actually extremely toxic, and that alone should have killed me.
Instinctively, I just knew that some of the things I experienced were a thousand times worse than what would be possible on earth’s surface - things such as the odors mentioned, the strength of the demons, the loudness of the screams, the dryness, and the loneliness felt.
Somehow I managed to move a bit and dragged myself across the ground toward the barred door. I couldn’t see, but I remembered the direction of the door that had been left open. I finally made it to the door and crawled out of the cell. Apparently, the creatures allowed me to crawl out without stopping me.
As soon as I exited the cell, my first instinct was to get as far away as possible. Again, I desperately wanted to run. All I could think of was to get up onto my feet. However, every move to get up took great effort. I remember wondering, why is this so difficult? After tremendous exertion, I was finally able to stand. I was thoroughly exhausted and, at the same time, very frustrated at how hard simple movement had become. Although I was now outside the cell, I could not run, and fear continued to bind itself around me as a snake constricting its prey.
I was horrified as I heard the screams of an untold multitude of people crying out in torment. It was absolutely deafening. The terror-filled screams seemed to go right through me, penetrating my very being.
Through the panic and the deafening noise, I struggled to gather my thoughts, I’m in hell! This is a real place, and I’m actually here! I frantically tried to understand, but it was just so inconceivable. Not me, I’m a good person, I thought. The fear was so intense I couldn’t bear it, but again, I couldn’t die. I knew that most people up on the surface of the earth did not believe or even know that there was a whole going on down here. They wouldn’t believe it. but here it existed, and it was all too real. This place was so terrifying, so intense, and so hostile that it would be impossible for me to exaggerate the horror.
I did not know how I had arrived there. The fact that I knew God was kept from my mind. This was explained to me later by the Lord Himself. In retrospect, I know that there are several scriptures indicating that God does sometimes hide things from man’s mind.
I looked off to my right and could faintly see flames from afar off that dimly lit the skyline. I knew the flames were coming from a large pit, a gigantic raging inferno approximately one mile in diameter and about ten miles away. This was just one of the many things I simply knew. My senses were keener.
The flames were intense, but the darkness seemed to swallow up the light. The skyline was barely visible. The darkness was somewhat like a black hole. I have heard scientists say that within our universe’s black holes, the pull of gravity is so strong that it actually stops light from traveling, and it cannot escape from the hole. The darkness in hell is like that. It is so dark that it seemed to hinder any light from traveling.
The only visible area was that which the flames exposed. The ground was all rock, barren and desolate. There was not one green thing, not one living thing, not one blade of grass, not one leaf on the ground - it was just a complete wasteland. In Ezekiel 26:20 we read: “Then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit…and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit.” On Earth, even deserts contain life that has adapted to tits harsh environment and have a natural beauty. But the place I saw was barren - nothing like the desert.
One of the most painful thoughts I had was the realization that I could never get to my wife. She had no idea of my existence in this place. I would never, ever see her again. I couldn’t even explain or tell her of my doom. My wife and I are extremely close, and I used to tell her that if there was ever a disaster in the earth, and we were apart that day, I would find a way to get to her. I would stop at nothing to get to her. Now, to never see her again was so inconceivable to me. I understood that I would never, ever get out. In Psalm 140:10 we read: “Let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire, into deep pits, that they rise not up again.” I couldn’t even tell her what had happened, and that knowledge alone was too much to endure.
The air was filled with smoke, and a filthy, deathly, decaying odor hung in the oxygen-depleted atmosphere. It seemed as if all the oxygen had been sucked up by the high-leaping flames in the distance. I could barely breathe. The lack of oxygen in the atmosphere left me gasping for every little bit of air I could inhale. There was no humidity or moisture in the air. It was exhausting even to try to get just one breath.
One of the worst sensations I experienced was an insatiable thirst and dryness. I was so extremely thirsty. My mouth was so dry it felt as if I had been running through the desert for days. There was no water, no humidity in the air, no water anywhere. I desperately longed for just one drop of water. Just one drop of water would have been so precious to me. It is difficult to conceive of a world without water. It would truly be most miserable. It is inconceivable for any of us to imagine such extreme dryness.
With thoughts of utter hopelessness flooding my mind, I looked out at the desolate, barren cavern toward the flames. All the memories of what a wonderful life I had enjoyed was now a world apart, just a thing of the past. There was no work, no goals, no wisdom, and no opportunity to speak to anyone or to solve any problem. No need to offer advice, help, or comfort of any kind. Purpose was nonexistent. All life was over, and a useless “wasting away” permeated my being. After seeing these grotesque and deformed creatures with their jagged scales, bumps, and twisted limbs, smelling their putrid, rotting odors and seeing the thick, smoke-filled atmosphere, I longed for my life back. I thought of my beautiful wife with her warm, loving green eyes, her zeal for life, her perfectly smooth, clear skin, and her great love for me. I missed her so deeply. I thought about us standing at the cliffs on the ocean’s edge, watching the waves and ice-blue water crash onto the rocky shore. I remember the clear skies, and white clouds, sunshine, and fresh air. I yearned for her so deeply.
I wanted to talk and interact with someone. But to have an intelligent conversation - or simply any conversation - with a human being, now so valued, was completely unattainable. All these things flashed through my mind. However, to entertain such memories was futile and would only lead to bitter disappointment and total frustration. How could I accept the reality I was now faced with? It was a reality filled with an endless eternity of pain, loss, loneliness, and doom, a most miserable existence. It would be impossible.
My brief moment of remembrance faded away, and once again I was faced with my present gruesome situation. My mental escape had lasted only a few seconds. I realized this horror would last for an eternity, and that knowledge thrust me back into a frantic state of mind.
I didn’t even possess the thought of calling on God for help, because I was there as one who didn’t know God. The Lord didn’t even come to mind. One of the demonic creatures grabbed me and carried me back into the cell. It threw me on the floor, and another creature quickly grabbed my head and began to crush it. Then all four of the creatures were on top of me, each grabbing a leg or an arm as if I were lifeless prey. I was so far beyond terrified that there are no words to describe it. They were just about to pull apart my body when, all of a sudden, I was taken out of the cell and placed next to that pit of fire I had viewed from a distance earlier.
Momentary relief hit my soul as I realized I had been snatched from the grip of those hideous creatures. However, now I found myself next to an enormous pit with raging flames of fire leaping high into an open cavern. As I looked up into that dark, eerie, tomb-like atmosphere, it seemed to be like a mouth that had swallowed her dead. The flames of her ravenous appetite were never satisfied with the pitiful screams of untold multitudes.
The heat was far beyond unbearable, and I desperately wanted to escape before I too would be thrown into that inferno. As I look back on this experience now, I am reminded of the devastation of the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, when some people, rather than facing the 2,000-degree heat, chose to plummet to their death by leaping out a window. A fall, especially from such great heights, must have been horrendous. It was reported that a person subjected to that temperature would be completely incinerated in about fifteen seconds. Those people chose to make that leap rather than face the intensity of those flames for even fifteen seconds. Some scientists have reported that the core temperature at the center of the earth is approximately twelve thousand degrees. To endure that for an eternity is unfathomable.
I could see the outlines of people through the flames. The screams from the condemned souls were deafening and relentless. There was no safe place, no safe moment, no temporary relief of any kind. In the media, we have heard of the merciless acts of terrorists. In some cases, their victims knew death would come by brutal decapitation. Try to imagine the terror these victims must have felt as they awaited their fate. In hell, this state of fear never ceases for even one second. It lasts for an eternity.
There were people in hell who were contained in a massive pit. Horrible creatures surrounded the perimeter. There was no way of escape. Any attempt to do so was futile. Human strength was no match for the demons. I felt such anguish for these hopeless people, but at the same time, I realized that I could be next.
When I had first arrived in the cell, I had noticed that I was naked, which is another form of shame and increased vulnerability. In such a hostile environment, that vulnerability adds another layer of helplessness and fear to an already terrified mind. In life, well-adjusted, healthy people would feel shame if stripped and exposed publicly. How much more so would such shame and fear be felt in a terror-filled environment. I am reminded of the millions of Jews who were stripped naked and humiliated before being murdered with poisonous gas or cast into ovens during World War II. They experienced many tortures and humilities, but being naked was an attempt to strip them of their dignity and to intensify the fear. Many have died horrific death on the earth; how much more the torment when it lasts forever?
I also experienced the misery of total exhaustion in hell. The continual emotional, mental, and physical trauma feeds this vicious cycle of sleep deprivation. You desperately long for even a few minutes of rest, but you never, ever get that privilege. Imagine for a moment how terrible you feel after only fourty-eight hours of no sleep. In hell you never sleep, rest, or find a quiet moment. Any form of rest is completely nonexistent. Even though I was only there for twenty-three minutes, the torment and trauma was so intense that it felt like I hadn’t slept for weeks. It could only worsen with time.
There is never any peace of mind. No rest from the torments, the screams, the fear, the thirst, the lack of breath, no sleep, the stench, the heat, the hopelessness, and the isolation from people.
I desperately wanted to talk to a human being, but I knew I would never get that chance. You are kept from any kind of fellowship, conversation, or human interaction.
Relationships are so valuable, and it’s easy to take them for granted. At the moment of death, a person does not want to be surrounded with their “possessions.” That person wants to be surrounded by people who truly care for him and love him. It is extremely difficult to process the thought of knowing you will never be able to relate with anyone ever again, especially with those you love. The innate, human desire to communicate, ask questions, and relate with someone who shares in your suffering will never be fulfilled in hell. Instead, all you are exposed to are hideous creatures. No matter who you were, whether famous or of great influence or a nobody, it doesn’t matter. You are truly alone amidst a sea of tormented souls.
Now, it is true that there are areas in the vast, fiery pit where people are thrown together, but they are only together in the sense that they are all experiencing the same torment. Each person is very isolated in extreme agony and screaming in fear as fire and brimstone rains down upon him. They are together in the same way cattle are herded into a slaughterhouse. A soul in such extreme agony would have no opportunity for a conversation. Besides, I believe everyone there is just on the verge of insanity. However, I believe you never quite go insane, for that would provide a form of escape.
I possessed knowledge that there were different levels of torment or varying degrees of punishment. I knew some people were in worse positions than others. All areas were horrid, with no place of relief or comfort. I was also aware that there were many levels far, far worse. Any level, area, or degree of torment was much worse that any concept a mind could conceive.
As I stood near that enormous pit of fire, no immediate attackers seemed to be threatening, so this gave me a moment to take in my surroundings. It was raining fire and burning rock, similar to the way lava falls from the sky when a volcano explodes. The smoke from the flames was very thick, allowing visibility for only a short distance, but what I could see was horrifying. I saw many people reaching out of the pit of fire, desperately trying to claw their way out. But there was no escape.
I turned my head, and I noticed that I was standing in the middle of a cave. The wall wrapped around me and led to the vast expanse of the pit. As I looked at the walls, I saw that they were covered with thousands of hideous creatures. These demonic creatures were all sizes and shapes. Some of them had four legs and were the size of gorillas. They were all terribly grotesque and disfigured. It looked as though their flesh had been decomposing and all their limbs were twisted and out of proportion. Some displayed immense, long arms or abnormally large feet. They seemed to me to be the living dead. There were also gigantic rats and huge spiders at least three feet wide and two or three feet high. I also saw snakes and worms, ranging from small to enormously large. I was petrified and could not believe my eyes.
My gaze followed the beasts up the sides of the wall, and I saw that there was a hole in the top of the cave. It was the entrance to an upward tunnel, approximately thirty-five feet in diameter. The fiendish creatures lined the tunnel walls as well. They were distinctly wicked. Their eyes were cauldrons of evil and death. Everything was filthy, stinking, rotten, and foul. There was one other distinguishing aspect about these creatures - they all seemed to possess a hatred for mankind. They were the epitome of evil. The creatures seemed to be chained, or attached in some fashion, to the cavern walls. I was relieved to know that they could not reach me.
Suddenly, I began ascending up through the tunnel. I didn’t know how I was able to ascend or why. At first, I rose slowly, and as I went higher, I could view the vast wasteland of hell. I could now see more of the enormous pit, which looked to be as much as a mile across. However, this was just a fraction of hell’s space. To the right of the large inferno were thousands of small pits, as far as I could see. Each pit was no more than three to five feet across and four to five feet deep - each pit holding a single lost soul. As I ascended into the darkness, the fear of those horrific beasts was all encompassing. I thought, Who could fight off just one of these creatures? No one could. Many were so massive and strong. For an instant, I remembered a certain person my wife and I would see at our gym. We didn’t know him, but we’d look upon him with amazement because he was so big, powerfully built, and strong. I thought, Even he could be no match for the demons.
Continuing up, it seemed as if about thirty seconds had passed, when suddenly, a burst of light invaded the entire tunnel. The light was so brilliant, a pure, white light such as I have never seen. It was so bright that I could not see the face of the one who was before me, but I instantly knew who He was. I said as if I died. It seemed as if only a few moments had passed when I regained my awareness. I was still at His feet.
It is at this point Christ communicated to Bill that he had been sent into this experience so he could convey to people that Hell is very real, it is death, dying, punishment and the total absence of good and absolutely void of God and His goodness.
Bill has continued on in his ministry.