Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
Todd Burpo and his wife, Sonja, never expected to hear their young son, Colton, matter of factly tell them that he remembered his hospital experience because it was where the angels sang to him. But that’s exactly how he described his distinct memory of being treated for an emergency appendectomy. Before that life-altering conversation in a car en route to visit family, the Burpos had already withstood one of the toughest years in their marriage.
In August 2002, Todd shattered his leg playing coed softball. He developed kidney stones two months later and was diagnosed as having hyperplasia and underwent a mastectomy the following month. The combined emotional, spiritual and physical strain of this difficult season had Todd being dubbed “Pastor Job” in reference to the ongoing, ever-escalating trials of the Old Testament’s biblical character Job. Added to this were the financial stresses that come along with such a dramatic series of physical illnesses and the subsequent medical bills. But nothing prepared the Burpos for what was about to transpire.
"Whatever sides of the fence readers fall on, everyone will agree that this little boy wants everyone to know that 'Heaven is for Real!'"
Just coming off of his own recoveries, Todd and his family embarked on a getaway weekend in February 2003 when three-year-old Colton came down with what they believed was a stomach flu virus. Even his older sister Cassie became ill at the hotel with similar symptoms, so the Burpos did what all parents do: they weathered the sickness until it became apparent that Colton needed the care of a physician. So they took him to a hospital in Imperial, Nebraska. Within hours of his fever breaking, the Burpos were rejoicing and celebrating Colton’s recovery.
However, in actuality, Colton had been misdiagnosed at the hospital, and his appendix had ruptured. Instead of getting better, he was near death. So Todd and Sonja transported him to a larger hospital in North Platte, Nebraska, where Dr. Timothy O’Holleran prepped him for surgery. The doctor treated Colton for a ruptured appendix and an abscess, and while the operation was successful, his condition remained critical. More surgeries followed, and after 17 days, Colton at last returned to his hometown of Imperial. Recovery began in earnest as the people from Imperial interceded on Colton’s behalf.
Once the trauma of Colton’s near-death experience faded, the Burpos took their first trip post-hospital, and that’s when Colton started sharing with them his experiences of being in Heaven. After his first mentions of Heaven, Todd and Sonja were somewhat unsure of how to respond. Over time, he shared more and more of his experiences, unfolding specific memories of relatives he had never met, meeting the unborn sister his mom lost in a miscarriage, and exact descriptions of Heaven as depicted in the Bible but of which Colton as a three-year-old had no knowledge. Time after time, he told his parents of exact happenings that can only be explained supernaturally. The Burpos realized that their young son had indeed gone to Heaven and was brought back to them by the grace of God (and in answer to their prayers), which Colton described from his then-heavenly perspective.
Colton’s message is confounding to some and comforting to others. Whatever sides of the fence readers fall on, everyone will agree that this little boy wants everyone to know that “Heaven is for Real!”
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 2, 2010