by Beth Townsend
“I am a miracle!” he says. “My left arm was in the back seat of the car, my left leg was cut off. We are standing here now, I’m standing on my own two legs and my left arm is right here beside me.”
On his way home from a United Methodist Church conference in 1989, Piper’s car was hit head-on by an 18-wheeler. Emergency personnel responded and after attempting to revive him, four paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene. A minister from the conference, traveling separately in a car behind Piper, got an audible message from God to pray for the man in the red car. That pastor, understanding that nothing in theology indicated praying over a dead body, concluded the message could only be from God and pushed forward. He received permission to stand by Don’s car, put his hand under the tarp that covered the lifeless body and began praying.
Ninety minutes after being pronounced dead, Don returned to life on earth with vivid memories of God’s perfect place—heaven. Thirty-four operations and years of recovery forced Don and his family to find a new “normal.” His inspirational story touched millions around the globe, helping many to find hope following tragedy and loss.
“One of the things that distinguishes God from everyone and everything is else is miracles. Only God can pull that off, that is his territory,” Piper shares.
Don also gives credit to the power of prayer. Many upon hearing of his accident began to pray, not realizing he had been pronounced dead at the scene. Last year he was able to shake hands with one of those prayer warriors. “I was in Modesto, Calif., speaking. A guy walked up to me and extended his hand. Weeping he said, ‘I prayed for you that day.’ Twenty-six years later I am meeting this guy face to face!” I said to him, “Keep praying, it works!”
This is a man who believes in Jesus. “There is only one person who died and lived again to save us. Jesus is that person. One of his last statements is, ‘I am the way. No man comes to the Father except through me.’ I would say to a dead and dying world, there is hope eternally and there is hope for now.”
In his book “90 Minutes in Heaven,” Piper shares how he visited heaven. Yet, he believes that glory starts here on earth. “Jesus can help you have a better life now. And he wants to do that. That is why he spent time with his disciples, preparing them for what is next. And the world looks to Christ now because those men got the word out.”
“That’s our job now, we are like a tag team. When I was at Leesville High School, I ran track and passed the baton. There were four guys on our team. If I was the first guy and failed to pass the baton, it did not matter what the rest of the guys did, because I dropped it,” he says. “This message is for now! We are one generation from being out of business. It is an urgent message, yet very positive and exciting if we embrace it.”