Three-year-old Colton Burpo was rushed into emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix eight years ago and when he woke up, he told his parents stories that seemed unbelievable. He said he had died and saw John the Baptist, looked at Jesus’ wounds up close, and met a long lost sister. He also says he met his great-grandfather, and describes Jesus as having eyes that “were just sort of a sea-blue and they seemed to sparkle.” While some might initially discount it as a mix of anesthesia and childhood dreams, Colton’s parents believe that he did indeed experience heaven.
They believed in Colton’s story so much that Colton’s father Todd, who is a pastor, wrote a book based on his son’s experiences from that day when he was just three. Now at age 11, Colton maintains that he did visit heaven.
The book is entitled “Heaven Is For Real” and it is flying off the bookshelves.
Colton’s parents admit they had questions about the the validity of his story initially but say that some of the stories he told were things he could not have otherwise known, like having a younger sister. Colton says he met a younger sister who had had the same dark hair that his older sister did. Furthermore he asked his mother if she had a baby that “died in her tummy.” His mom, Sonja says she did have a miscarriage soon after Colton was born and says there is no way he could have ever known that.
Thomas Nelson, the small Nashville publisher of “Heaven Is For Real” reports that more than 1.5 million copies are currently in print. While the book gets many orders from church groups and ministries, it is selling just as well at larger outlets, such as Walmart and Barnes & Noble.
Astonishingly in today’s tight publishing market, the book did not start with a well known author, big publishing company, large book tour or any of the elaborate plans that often aid in the successful selling of a best selling book. It has also earned spots on key television shows like “Fox & Friends,” “The 700 Club” and CNN.
In a The New York Times article, Matt Baugher, the vice president and publisher of Thomas Nelson says the book’s success is based on the genuine need that most people have in wanting to know about the afterlife:
“We all are perhaps desperate to know what is on the other side of the veil after we die. This was a very down-to-earth, conservative, quote-unquote normal Midwestern family. We became fully convinced that this story was valid. And also that it was a great story that would just take off.”
Similarly, Patricia Bostelman, the vice president for marketing at Barnes & Noble believes that the books’ premise is real and genuine: “What was unusual about this book was that it was the story of a little boy. It deactivated some of the cynicism that can go along with adults capitalizing on their experiences,” she says.
Religion in general, and heaven in particular, is a touchy subject and everyone has their own beliefs on whether it exists, or if it’s just a fanciful notion. Even those who are devoutly religious sometimes ponder what heaven is like, and what happens to people when they die. I think that most people, especially after experiencing a death in the family wonder what happened to their loved ones.
Two years ago, when I lost my uncle who raised me, the only thing that helped was to believe the priest when he said that we would one day be reunited. I do firmly believe in the afterlife, whether some people call it heaven or not. I also believe that those who have gone before us are watching over us. There are times when I have felt my uncle’s spirit in a sudden thought or a special memory, and I know it was more than just a recollection.
Colton’s family says they never intended to make much money from the book and just hoped the publisher would break even. Todd says he will give away most of the royalty income but will use some for home improvements. Colton says he is just glad, “People are getting blessed, and they’re going to have healing from their hurts. I’m happy for that.”
Source: The New York Times