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Flight to Heaven
A Plane Crash ... A Lone Survivor ... A Journey to Heaven-and Back
By Dale Black Ken Gire
Bethany House Publishers Copyright © 2010 Capt. Dale Black with Ken Gire
All right reserved.
Prologue My life was forever changed after a plane crash.
I was the only survivor.
For days I remained in an intensive care unit, but not before taking an uncharted trip ... to heaven. What I experienced there, words cannot do justice. Even the best words pale before the indescribable. For many months following the crash, due to serious amnesia, I remembered nothing. Nothing of the crash, the first three days in the hospital, or my visit to heaven. At least, my mind did not remember. My heart? Well, that's a different story.
I was assigned to Dr. Homer Graham, best known as Evel Knievel's surgeon. My injuries were massive, but when I awoke in the ICU, I was a changed man. Yet I had no memory as to why. It seemed as if I had been given new eyes. I felt as though I were looking into another dimension. That was forty years ago.
What you're about to read is how my life was turned upside down by an airplane crash and why every major decision I've made since then has been a direct result of my journey to heaven. Those who know me may now understand why I've seemed like a bit of a misfit and why my life has often followed an offbeat path.
You'll learn why I've been emboldened and compelled to share the love of God with others. Why I volunteered on almost a thousand flights to more than fifty countries, building churches, orphanages, and medical clinics. And why I've trained lay ministers and medical personnel to help the needy worldwide, usually at my own expense.
Since that fateful day, I have shared my story about the crash and the amazing recovery many times. But I have never shared publicly about my journey to heaven, until now.
How could I keep this life-changing event a secret? There are several 1 reasons.
Right after the crash my memory was like a jigsaw puzzle with only a few recognizable pieces. It would take eight months to start getting my memory back. And even longer for my injured mind and my transformed heart to get in sync.
As soon as my memory returned, I told my grandfather everything that had happened, but he cautioned me about telling others. "Dale," he said, "you can speak about your experience, or you can treat it as sacred and let your life be a reflection of your experience. By that I mean, if you really did see the other side, then live out whatever you believe you saw. Live what you believe you heard. Just live what you learned. Your life's actions will speak louder than your voice."
So I made a solemn promise to myself and to God not to share my experience with anyone until He made it clear to do so. At the time I figured God might want me to keep the secret for only a year or two.
Soon after the crash I attended a church service where a man claimed to have died, visited heaven, and come back to life. To me, the service was more self-serving than sacred. The very essence of heaven is God, yet the people were more interested in the sensation rather than the One who created it all and Whom heaven is all about. I was grieved by the event and my decision not to discuss my journey with anyone was further solidified.
It also wasn't hard to keep my secret because at times in my life, I have been truly disappointed in myself. Why couldn't I have lived an even better life? Since I had clearly seen heaven and was so changed by the experience, why did I fail again and again to be the man I truly wanted to be? Why did I fail often to be a reflection of what I had seen and heard and learned? I guess seeing heaven didn't change the fact that I'm human. Not only human—but also very flawed.
So why share my experience now? Personally, I was perfectly content to keep my silence longer still. But the Lord orchestrated a series of events that convinced me it is now His time to share about my journey to heaven and back. For four decades I did live my experience. Now I am compelled to tell how.
In some ways this story is about me. But it is not about me ultimately, nor should it be. It is about God. And it is about you. The two of you together, entwined in a story that, to me, is still breathtakingly sacred. My hope is that you will read not just with your mind but with an open heart. If you do, you may receive more than you bargained for.
My story begins as I pilot a jet on a volunteer missionary flight in the dark of night over Zambia, Africa ... at 41,000 feet. So please, fasten your seat belt, put your tray table in its upright and locked position, and hold on. It's quite a ride.
For the first time in forty years, here is my story.
—Capt. Dale Black
Excerpted from Flight to Heaven by Dale Black Ken Gire Copyright © 2010 by Capt. Dale Black with Ken Gire. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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