Escaping the Void
The NDErs we have mentioned reached a point where they wanted desperately to escape. Each release from the Void was different, but the common denominator was that God became directly involved.
After a time for reflection, reports BJ McKelvie 5, God’s voice scolded him again for his suicide, and he responded, ‘OK. I’ve done it. I accept it.’ He felt he had no hope; he would have to endure his punishment for eternity.
The voice spoke a third time, far more gently and kindly now: ‘You’re not getting a second chance – but a new beginning!’
He awoke in his hospital bed – and today is an effective Christian musician and prominent minister. He equates his experience of the Void with Jesus’ warnings about being ‘cast into outer darkness’ (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, and 25:30).
The Russian atheist George Rodonaia 4 adopted a novel approach during his NDE to solving whether he was still alive or not. He pondered an expression used by a philosopher – René Descartes.
Why am I in this darkness? What am I to do? Then I remembered Descartes’ famous line: ‘I think, therefore I am.’ And that took a huge burden off me, for it was then I knew for certain I was still alive, although obviously in a very different dimension.
Then I thought: if I am, why shouldn’t I be positive? That is what came to me. I am George and I’m in darkness, but I know I am. I am what I am. I must not be negative.
Then I thought, how can I define what is positive in darkness?
Well, positive is light.
Then, suddenly, I was in light; bright white, shiny and strong; a very bright light! It was like the flash of a camera, but not flickering – that bright. Constant brightness.
At first I found the brilliance of the light painful, I couldn’t look directly at it. But little by little I began to relax.
I began to feel warm, comforted, and everything suddenly seemed fine.
George subsequently experienced common features of a classic NDE, such as a comprehensive Life Review and the peace and joy that accompanied interaction with the Light. On his return, he gave up his medical career and trained to become a Christian minister. He served as a pastor in the Methodist Church in Texas up until his death in 2004.
Howard Storm 6, trapped in the Void, tried to fend off the blows from the demons, without success. ‘As I lay there in a foetal position on the ground trying to protect myself from their kicks and their taunting, I heard a voice say ‘pray to God’. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t believe in God.’ Then I heard that voice again, and another time. I tried to remember what I had prayed as a child, and it came out all mixed up with the 23rd Psalm, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer, just little bits of these that I could remember. But the people [demons] around me hated any mention of God and retreated far into the darkness and left me alone for an eternity to consider my life.’
This extended opportunity for reflection that feels like an eternity is a common feature of the Void.
After a time of deep despair, Howard resorted to calling out ‘Jesus, please save me!’ not knowing whether Jesus was real or not, but remembering having believed in him in childhood.
A faint light appeared in the darkness and approached, becoming a Being of Light that Howard believes was Jesus Christ. ‘I was lifted up to this Being of white light, and I could see the wounds in my body were healing in seconds. Never in my life had I experienced such unconditional total love, and I knew absolutely that this was the Jesus I had believed in as a child.’
Howard was given a Life Review. He was ashamed of the life he had led up until then, but was comforted by the love of Jesus and of the angels who accompanied him. Desperate not to return to Earth, Howard was nevertheless told he had to do so. His return was given the unusual additional blessing of a miraculous healing from his previous condition – diagnosed as a punctured duodenum that had required immediate surgery. The unbearable pain he had previously experienced in hospital, such that he said he would have killed himself if he had had the means, had also gone! He converted to Christianity and became an enthusiastic evangelist and pastor in Ohio before retiring.
Calling out to God from the Void provided Howard with a means of escape. Others have given similar accounts of their release from that venue.
The Void as a Section of the Prison Complex
NDErs often report simply ‘stepping into’ the Void, which suggests it is near to Earth but in a different dimension.
The Void has distinctive features when compared with other Prison sections. It is often pitch black to start with. Other Prison sections are characterised by dim lighting, but vision is clear – occasionally with light from flickering flames lighting up the cell walls.
The Void experience often begins without seeing other humans. In other Prison sections, prisoners are observed from the start.
The Void may not in its early stages generate the same intense fear that other Prison sections do. Bafflement is more common at the start of the Void experience.
A mysterious feeling of ‘non-being’ may be recorded early on in the Void, while prisoners in other Prison sections are very much aware of who and what they are.
What is the dynamic between the Void and the rest of the Prison complex? Perhaps the intransigent in the Void are transferred directly to other Prison sections of Hades. However, with the exception of a few suicides, I do not know of NDE descriptions of the Void experience that specify such a transfer. Instead, the Void for most NDE spirits appears to precede experiences in Paradise, or alternatively their return to Earth.
Tours of the Void
Often those NDErs trapped in the Void are lost in contemplation or struggling to overcome evil, such that their view is very limited and self-absorbed. They learn only what they have experienced within a restricted locale.
Certain other NDErs have been shown around the Void during a guided tour. They have been able to view the overall situation as an outsider, having aspects of it explained to them by a guide. It is interesting that the guides and ‘tourists’ seem seldom noticed by the spirits in the Void absorbed in their own situations. Several tourists have described the presence of angels or other beings of light hovering over the inhabitants of the Void, as if ready to help if appealed to. Spirits trapped in the Void, if typified by NDErs who have been there, seem to have a more limited view, being generally unaware that beings of light are all around them, until they decide they need help and call out for it.
Different guides have been found to conduct the tours. Dr George Ritchie 9 recorded a tour there guided by Jesus, while angels escorted the Baptist minister, Howard Pittman.
Howard Pittman 7 was taken to the Void as part of a ‘learning tour’ in 1979, having first died on the operating table. He had little knowledge of the nature of evil before being taken there, which he named the ‘Second Heaven’.The term ‘Void’ seems to equate with the venue of his experience. Other writers use the term ‘Second Heaven’ to denote outer space, but in 1979 the term Void was not yet being generally used and accepted in NDE circles.
When the angels lifted my spirit from my body, they carried me immediately to the Second Heaven (Void). We did not have to leave that hospital room in order to enter the Second Heaven. We entered the Second Heaven in that same room where my body was, by passing through a dimension wall. This is a wall which flesh cannot pass through, only spirit.
As we moved through that dimension wall into the Second Heaven, I found myself in an entirely different world, far different from anything I had ever imagined. This world was a place occupied by spirit beings as vast in number as the sand on the seashore. These beings were demons, or fallen angels, and were in thousands of different shapes and forms. Some of the forms were so morbid and revolting that I was nauseated.
Pittman could sense the presence of evil as he watched what was happening. He was revolted by the unpleasant behaviour of the demon spirits towards the spirits trapped there.
I experienced a dreadful feeling. It was an overwhelming, oppressive, and morbid feeling. This feeling came to me shortly after I had entered the Second Heaven, and I wondered what was causing it.
It was at this time that I learned that my guardian angel could read my mind because he said to me, ‘That feeling you are wondering about is caused by the fact that there is no love in this world.’
The angel was telling me that in this Second Heaven there is not one bit of love! Wow! Can you imagine all of those demons serving a master [Satan} they don’t love and the master ruling over beings that he doesn’t love? Worse than that, their companions are working together for an eternity and they do not even love each other!
He reflected on how unpleasant life on Earth would be if God had not introduced His love into in our world. ‘Because of God giving us His love, we are able to return that love and then love one another. Can you imagine what it would be like in your own home or your community if it were totally void of love?’
One outcome for Christians and others in touring the Void is that they perceive first hand the primary importance of love to a meaningful life.
Consequences of the Void
Kevin Williams 8, who has studied accounts about the Void given by NDErs, believes that no one who has died remains there permanently. His comments follow:
The Void is not punishment. It is the perfect place for all souls to see themselves and to purge themselves from all illusions. For those souls who are too self-absorbed in their own misery to see the light, there is a multitude of beings of light nearby to help them when they freely choose to seek them. The nature of love and light is such that it cannot be forced upon people who don’t want it. Choosing love/light over darkness is the key to being freed from the Void. The moment that choice is made, the light and tunnel appears and the soul is drawn into the light.
If you are an NDEr and have spent a distressing time there, be encouraged. Nancy Bush, PMH Atwater, Maurice Rawlings and Barbara Rommer’s investigations all suggest that, in the long run, virtually all NDErs have ultimately found distressing experiences extremely beneficial. This is despite having to struggle first through an emotional aftermath on returning to Earth.
The Void and Scripture
The Void is not mentioned as such in the Bible, the term being a modern one.
Deep darkness, a distinctive characteristic of the Void, is however associated with death in numerous Bible verses, for example Lamentations 3:6:
He has made me dwell in darkness, like those long dead.
Hell is never pictured as ‘deep darkness’ where those long dead dwell this side of Judgement, but rather as a place of fire after Judgement, its most enduring image being the Lake of Fire. The biblical descriptions of darkness gloom and disorder after death but before Judgement fit the Void instead, as described by NDErs.
Job is one of the heroes of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, in his time of misery, we find Job speaking about his anticipated death in negative terms (Job 10:20-22):
Are not my few days almost over?
Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy,
before I go to the place of no return,
to the land of gloom and utter darkness,
to the land of deepest night,
of utter darkness and disorder,
where even the light is like darkness.
Where was Job expecting to go at death, this land of ‘gloom and utter darkness’? It was a land of deepest night, of total darkness and disorder, ‘where even the light is like darkness’? It was either the Void or perhaps some similar afterlife Prison section that he was anticipating, though this degree of darkness certainly matches NDErs’ descriptions of the Void.
We trust that God was merciful to such a faithful servant as Job, and that he was pleasantly surprised to find himself in Paradise rather than in the Prison. Regardless of where he went, Job was certain that he would be resurrected, as we see in Job 19:25-27 when he stated:
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed [Job’s death], yet in my flesh [in his own resurrected body] I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
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