For those of us who believe in a Heaven and a Hell, we often wonder what each one will be like, and perhaps more so which one we will end up in. But for some, there is no need for a stretch of the imagination – they have seen Hell for themselves. These people have had a near death experience that has plummeted them in to the depths of Hell before bringing them back to Earth for a second chance at life. Here are just several terrifying accounts of Hell.
We will begin with a man named Matthew Botsford, who has perhaps one of the most well known modern accounts of a return ticket to Hell. Botsford was seriously injured in a shooting that took place outside of an Atlanta restaurant, receiving a bullet to the head as two men shot indiscriminately after being told to leave the establishment. Botsford was rushed to the hospital, reportedly dying three times in the ambulance before doctors induced him into a 27 day coma. During his coma, Botsford saw visions of Hell that would haunt him for the rest of his life. His journey to the afterlife began with him being chained at the wrist and ankles, and hung over a fiery pit filled with four legged creatures that were not of our world. Every plume of smoke that billowed out from the pit had one tortured soul within it. Botsford could hear the screams of millions of souls around him, but there was no communication – the souls there were to suffer alone for eternity. Eventually, Botsford was pulled out of the depths of Hell, and told by who he assumes to have been the voice of God, that it was not his time. On accounting his vision, it was recognised that his story is very much similar to the Vision of Dryhthelm. Dryhthelm was a monk in the 8th century, who was shown visions of Hell, Heaven and Purgatory.
Our next account is of a man named George Richie, who during World War 2 came down with pneumonia, and later in hospital was declared dead. Richie then claims that Jesus came to him and took him on a ‘tour’ of the afterlife, the first place appearing as a large city on Earth. Here Richie was shown the living and the dead inhabiting the same realm, but the living were unaware of the dead’s presence around them. There was a spirit woman frantically trying to grab a cigarette from a living man’s hand, but with no success. Jesus told Richie that the woman had died due to her addiction to cigarettes, and now she had to suffer for an eternity not being able to enjoy what she wanted the most. The same situation played out with a group of sailors in a bar, with spirits desperately trying to take a drink from their hands. Jesus then took Richie into a family home where the spirit of a man followed his living family members around, asking for their forgiveness. The family members were oblivious to the mans presence as they got on with their day to day life. This happened to be the spirit of a man who had committed suicide, leaving his family behind. Richie was then taken to Hell – a place where only the dead walked. Richie described Hell as being a place of anger, hatred and violence, with spirits fighting each other, sexually abusing each other, and existing in despair. At last, Richie was returned to his body, later writing a book about his experience, and becoming a doctor of psychiatry.
Our final story is one of the first vision of Hell accounts I ever heard. This account is from a man named Howard Storm, who at the time of his near death experience (age 38) had been an atheist all of his life. Storm suffered from a perforated stomach and was rushed into hospital. Upon gaining consciousness Storm recalled looking around at the people surrounding his hospital bed, and trying to speak. Only, the people around him couldn’t hear him, and moreover, they could not see him. He walked down the corridor of his ward where people simply walked through him, and it didn’t take long for Storm to realise that he was dead. Eventually he came across a group of figures who ushered him through a doorway. He followed the figures through a thick fog, only to realise that they were not just figures, but demons. The demons shoved him down the pathway to Hell, and eventually began to eat away at his flesh. Storm remembers a voice in his head telling him to pray, and as he did so he escaped his fate and was returned back to Earth. Storm is now a Senior Pastor of Covington United Church of Christ after living half his life as a devout atheist.
Whilst the visions of Hell do share some similarities – extreme heat, the screaming and suffering of tortured souls, and the presence of demons, it is interesting that each individual seems to have had a somewhat unique experience. This leads me to wonder whether Hell is experienced differently by everyone, and takes the form of what we would fear the most. What do you think – do you believe these accounts?