ALTUS, Okla. — Many have long debated the authenticity of an afterlife — even the very existence God. Crystal McVea was one of them.
The Oklahoma woman said she had given up believing there was a God who loved her until she died and went to heaven.
McVea told KFOR-TV that in 2009 she went to the hospital for a routine surgery. But things went wrong and she flat-lined. Medical records prove she had no pulse for nine minutes.
But what can’t be proven is McVea’s claims of seeing heaven, angels and God Himself.
“The moment my eyes closed, there He was,” she said. “Two angels to my left, the most glorious tunnel of light that I could ever describe.”
McVea said prior to her heavenly encounter, she had dismissed the idea of God.
“I made up my mind,” she said. “There were two choices. One, God was real and He didn’t love me, or two, there was no God.”
McVea said she lived a hard life — a life undeserving of God’s grace (if there was a God). She recounted years of secrets and shame: sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, drugs and divorce.
“I was the adulteress. I was the murderer. I was the sinner, the liar, the thief,” she said. “I was everything at one point throughout my life that we read about in the Bible.”
After her nine minutes in heaven, McVea said she changed her mind about the existence of God, His grace and love. Critics say her experience is the result of an oxygen-deprived brain.
But Dr. Richard Smith of Mercy Hospital said scientific studies on near death experiences support McVea’s claims.
“There’s enough evidence from individuals who have experienced this to suggest there’s a commonality, the spiritual life has reality and the existence of God is real,” he said. “And that’s what these people say. It changes their life.”
McVea said it’s changed hers. McVea now spends her days ministering to the homeless, to those she meets in strip clubs and comforting those who are terminally ill. She said the next time she goes to heaven she wants to hear ‘good job’ from the deity she once thought didn’t exist.
In addition to her outreach ministry, McVea has also written a book, a New York Times best seller called “Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again.”