With more than 34 printings and a million copies sold, 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN follows the unforgettable story of Don Piper, whose car was crushed by a semi-truck on the way home from a conference. When the medical personnel examined his body, they pronounced him dead, but an hour and a half later he was discovered to be very much alive. What happened in between?
Piper tells of his time in heaven --- the people he encountered, the sights he saw, the sounds he heard. Interestingly, the first person he interacted with in heaven was his grandfather. Then he met others. His heavenly experience was interrupted when he returned to his body. Due to some unusual events, a friend of Piper's actually discovered that he was still alive. Once taken to a hospital, Piper began what can only be described as a hell-on-earth experience of recovery from the accident.
Much of the book is spent describing the rehabilitation process --- the extended days in the ICU, the painful daily medical regimen, the depression that nearly crushed his soul. Though facing promises that he would never walk again, Piper slowly recovered, but not without the help of countless friends and loved ones.
In a particularly gripping account, Piper shares just how hard it was to accept any help. As a pastor, he had spent most of his days giving to others rather than receiving. When church members offered to do even the littlest of things for him, he refused. Finally, an 80-year-old preacher told Piper, "You need to get your act together. You're just not doing a very good job."
When Piper asked the preacher to explain, he said, "You've spent the better part of your life trying to minister to other people, to meet their needs, to help them during times of difficulty and tragedy and now you're doing a terrible job of letting these people do the same thing for you. Don, it's the only thing they have to offer you, and you're taking that gift away from them."
Piper eventually let someone get him a magazine. That one act opened the door for allowing others to love and serve him and a deeper healing to take place. Ultimately, Piper was able to walk, and his story became a catalyst for encouraging and challenging countless others.
Though he has been through so much, Piper still carries many "why" questions with him --- questions not just about near-death experiences, but of why God allowed him to die in a car wreck and go to heaven only to be sent back. And why the constant pain? Even without answers, 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN is a book packed with hope --- a reminder that, despite our losses and pain, God is faithful and true.
No matter what heartache, pain or loss you may have faced, you'll find comfort in Don Piper's story. There's a reason this book has sold over a million copies, and hopefully it will sell a million more.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on September 1, 2004