These People Claim They’ve Been to Heaven

Are these accounts genuine?

Is heaven real? The idea that good people get to spend eternity in a place that looks like paradise is present across nearly all cultures. Heaven is suggested as a place where there are no worries and no pain. Believers look forward to a day when they will be reunited with loved ones and walk with God.

However, skeptics believe that heaven is an imagined place that helps us mortals cope with the sadness of death. It’s not as though we can actually ask anyone who has been to heaven what it is like. However, there are some people who claim that they have visited heaven. There is a phenomenon of people coming back from near-death experiences with tales of a celestial place where the ultimate peace can be found. Do you believe in heaven? Take a look at 10 people who claim they’ve been to heaven.

10. Colton Burpo

Photo of Colton Burpo on talk show. Burpo claims he's been to heaven.

Colton Burbo was just three years old when he claims he drifted off to heaven during an emergency appendectomy. The youngster claims that he met Jesus on a rainbow-colored horse. Colton was even able to sit in the lap of Jesus as angels sang all around them. Colton also observed Mary standing next to Jesus and kneeling before the throne of God.

Colton Burpo’s tale of visiting heaven was so compelling that it was turned into a best-selling book before becoming a movie in 2014. “Heaven Is for Real” was a wholesome box office hit that earned $101 million and inspired many people to view the world with faith-filled eyes.

While some parents may have been inclined to dismiss Colton’s claims as the workings of a child’s imagination, the Burpos did not. The fact that Colton was able to provide them with details about a great-grandfather who had passed away years prior led them to believe that something heavenly really had happened to Colton. In addition, Colton had knowledge of an unborn older sister who had been lost to miscarriage years before he was born.

9. Dr. Eben Alexander

Photo of Dr Eben Alexander walking through field.

Dr. Eben Alexander offers one of the most compelling accounts of a heavenly experience in modern times. The Harvard-trained neurosurgeon wasn’t exactly a believer when he was struck down by a serious illness and entered into a coma in 2008.

Dr. Alexander’s account of heaven is nothing short of psychedelic. He recalls seeing giant butterflies and transparent beings soaring around him as he made his way through the heavenly realm. He also claims that he received many messages of love, peace and acceptance during his time on the other side.

Dr. Alexander has since released a book called “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” and done interviews with big names like Oprah Winfrey.

Eben Alexander believes that his experience is proof that consciousness does survive bodily death.

8. St. Faustina Kowalska

Painting of Faustina Kowalska

This celebrated Polish nun and saint wrote extensively about her visits to heaven. However, Faustina was clear to say that she only traveled to paradise on a spiritual level. Faustina was only permitted to view heaven in spirit after being disturbed by visions of hell. Faustina’s depiction of heaven is certainly enough to cause joy for any believer. She tells of inconceivable beauty and the happiness that waits for people after death. She also writes about the ways the happiness of God spreads to all creatures in the afterlife.

7. Debbie Cain

Photo of Debbie Cain with black background. Cain claims she's been to heaven.
Christian Post

There wasn’t much hope for Debbie Cain when her heart stopped during appendectomy surgery. What’s interesting about Debbie’s case is that she wasn’t a believer in any form of religion prior to her supernatural experience. Debbie claims that she knew she was in heaven because she began to feel a great love from within. She then recalls the way a bright light swept over everything. It was then that she met Jesus. However, it turns out that it simply wasn’t Debbie’s time. “Not now, my child,” is what Jesus said to her. She then woke up in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit feeling forever changed.

6. Don Piper

Photo of Don Piper
PA News

You may have spotted Don Piper making the rounds on Fox News and other television channels about a decade ago.

Don Piper is a man who claims that he visited heaven during a 90-minute span when he was technically dead. Don’s account of heaven involves reunions with friends and family members. However, he was not able to meet Jesus or God during his heavenly visit. He was instead greeted by loved ones outside of the gates of heaven who had passed away.

Piper’s experience was so delightful that he had no desire to return back to earth. However, he soon woke up in the hospital with nothing more than pleasant memories of a time spent in the celestial realm.

5. Trenton McKinley

Photo of Trenton McKinley shaved head on porch.
USA Today

Trenton McKinley is lucky to be alive following an accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. The Alabama teenager was rushed to the hospital with multiple skull fractures after being thrown from a trailer in 2018.

His mother claims that Trenton actually died four times after arriving at the hospital. One instance lasted 15 minutes. McKinley claims that he was walking toward heaven. The teen’s experience began in an open field. It was there that he saw a shadowy figure holding a baby. That figure was God. McKinley then walked with God for a while. His mother believes that the baby he saw could have been the child that she lost to miscarriage years prior.

It’s not totally out of the question to assume that McKinley’s recovery could have been the result of divine intervention. Doctors had little hope for the teen’s recovery. In fact, his mother had already committed to donating his organs when he unexpectedly began to show signs of life.

4. Julie Papievis

Promo photo of Julie Papievis
Blog Talk Radio

A woman named Julie Papievis claims she entered heaven at the age of 29.

Papievis was in a traumatic car accident that occurred when another car sped through a traffic light and plowed into her car at 50 miles per hour. The impact injured her brain stem and left her on the brink of death. Responders were unable to detect a pulse or blood pressure as she was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center. Brain scans conducted after arrival showed that there was no brain activity.

Julie remained in a coma for weeks. In fact, her parents rejected advice to have her removed from the hospital and placed in a nursing home. Her parents instead chose to pray for a miracle. A miracle did happen when Julie woke up six weeks later. She had some very interesting things to say when she opened her eyes.

Julie’s account of heaven included a vast space with no real beginning or end. She claims that she was not afraid even though she knew she was dead. In fact, she had a feeling of wanting to stay there forever. It wasn’t until Julie ran into her deceased grandmother that she realized it was not actually her time. Her grandmother urged her to return back to earth and assured her that she would be fully healed from her injuries.

3. Sondra Abrahams

Sondra Abrahams giving a talk.

Sondra Abrahams had a near-death experience resulting from an allergic reaction to medication she was given following surgery. She went into cardiac arrest while in the emergency room at a hospital. It was during this time that she claims she rose up to the ceiling and watched herself dying on the bed below. Abrahams claims that she was then pulled from this dimension and slipped into another. She met Jesus on the other side. He put his arms around her soul and played her life back to her as a movie. However, it turns out that heaven wasn’t ready to welcome Abrahams quite yet. Jesus sent her back down to her body because she still had more work to do in the earthly realm.

2. Annabel Beam

Photo of Annabel Beam holding milkshake at playground. Beam claims she's been to heaven.
Boston Children’s Hospital

Annabel Beam’s account of heaven was turned into a movie starring Jennifer Garner called “Miracles From Heaven” in 2016.

Annabel Beam’s story actually started when she was diagnosed with two rare and life-threatening digestive disorders at the age of five.

At the age of nine, a truly bizarre event happened to Beam when she fell 30 feet inside a rotted-out cottonwood tree. The young girl was luckily rescued by firefighters several hours later. However, her life was never the same. Beam told her parents that she went to heaven and sat on the lap of Jesus during her trial inside the tree. The young girl’s parents didn’t make much of the claim at first. However, they began to take Beam’s account more seriously when she made references to her mother’s two miscarriages. Annabel’s parents claim that they had never spoken about the miscarriages in front of her.

Beam claims that a long-haired, robed Jesus promised her that she would be cured of the illnesses and chronic pain she had been suffering from once she returned to earth. Beam and her parents now say that all signs and symptoms of her illnesses have disappeared.

1. Alex Malarkey

Photo of Alex Malarkey in hospital
Washington Post

Alex Malarkey is unlike any other person on this list. That’s because Malarkey has admitted that his tale of visiting heaven was a hoax.

Alex Malarkey detailed his celestial experiences in a 2010 best-selling book called “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.” The book was also turned into a television movie that same year.

The book tells of young Alex’s experience of visiting heaven following a devastating car accident in 2004. However, Alex admitted in 2015 that he had completely fabricated his story because he thought it would bring him attention. He even went as far as to say that “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” was one of the most deceptive books ever written. There are even allegations that Malarkey’s parents pushed his fabricated experience as a way to find fame and fortune. The book has since been withdrawn by its publisher.