“We’re not going to be able to keep this quiet,” co-author Yvonne Erwin quotes Rick East as saying about their work on A Glimpse of Glory: My Journey to Heaven and Back.
Rick is a retired mechanical engineer and design draftsman who says he died and went to heaven. Is his book a memoir? I talked with him and Yvonne.
“It started about two days before Christmas in 2012,” he says. “I was at home and had trouble breathing. My wife took me to a hospital emergency room.”
Tests revealed no causes for his symptoms and he returned home with an inhaler and antibiotics in the event his symptoms turned out to be pneumonia. It didn’t help and he went back to the emergency room and was admitted for more tests.
“One hundred thirty tests later doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. December 25 I went into respiratory failure. My blood pressure went sky high, then nothing, then sky high and back to nothing again. My wife called our daughter who was trying to celebrate Christmas with her in-laws. ‘I think he is dying. I need your help,’ she told her. By the time she arrived, I was almost gone. My daughter rushed to the desk and demanded an emergency response team. ‘You get them here now or I’m calling them,’ she demanded. The emergency team arrived and attached a ventilator. It was too late. My spirit was in heaven.”
Rick says doctors were able to keep his body alive and thought he had a severe stroke. Doctors did not pronounce him clinically dead, but he knows God took his soul and he was in heaven.
A fantastic yellow light
“The minute I became aware I was not on planet earth, the Holy Spirit told me I was in heaven. I was aware of something different, drastically different. I saw a fantastic beautiful light way off on a flat horizon line. It was predominantly yellow mixed in with pastel colors. The light was more beautiful than anything. I said in my spirit, the city of light. The Holy Spirit corrected me and said, ‘No, that’s the city of New Jerusalem or the city of Heaven and you’re on your way there.'”
At that point, Rick says he became euphoric and thought, “I made it. I’m in heaven. I’m not as bad as I thought I was. I’ve been forgiven.” He says he was filled with joy and peace, had no more pain, no more struggling to breathe, and he had a new body. He tried to assess his situation while drifting toward the city. He had no sense of movement, like riding in a hot air balloon.
“People I told this said I probably was on medications or imagining things. It was real to me. When I came back to earth it was a day-and-a-half later, although I had no sense of time in heaven. The first thing I said to my wife was, ‘Why didn’t you just let me die?’ She was devastated by that idea. Later at home, she looked up in the book of Revelation where it describes the City of the New Jerusalem and it was exactly what I had described it. Then she knew I had a real experience.”
Compelled to write his story
Why does he think he was not allowed to enter the city? “So many people were praying for me and I had to come back to share my story. The Holy Spirit told me I had to write this book and told me the title.”
After he recovered and went home, he asked church friend and author Nick Weyland to come to his house and talk about writing a book. Nick handed him a newspaper clipping about people who are writing near death stories and books. The clipping was from the newspaper the day before.
“And you’re asking me today to help you write your book. This can’t be a coincidence,” Nick said.
Nick turned him down for two reasons. One, Nick writes fiction. Two, he felt their friendship was too close for Nick to be objective. He gave Rick the name of Yvonne Erwin, president of Springfield (Missouri) Writers’ Guild.
Working together felt right
“I edited about twenty-five or so pages and emailed them to Rick,” Yvonne says. “He said he really liked what I did and suggested I be his co-author. I was reluctant, because it was not my story and I was happy to stay in the background. But he persisted and I finally agreed.”
Yvonne knew Rick was genuine. “You hear these types of accounts a lot and sometimes you think, ‘Oh, yeah right.’ However, there’s no way Rick could be anything but genuine. I felt that’s the kind of person I wanted to work with.”
Rick says his communication with the Holy Spirit is not an audible voice, but knowledge given him. “My story is more than just about my trip to heaven and back. It’s about my whole life experience and my relationship with God and the impact He’s had on my life almost from day one.”
Rick and his wife Faith have two grown children, Tammy and Jason.
Leave your comments on whether you think this kind of story is memoir and why.
A Glimpse of Glory is available from Amazon.com in Kindle, softcover, and hardcover editions.