ALTUS, Okla -- The bible says Heaven is beauty beyond our comprehension, "Like an entire city of transparent gold."
Most of us can only imagine what it will be like. But Crystal McVea says she tasted death and briefly walked with God. "When I closed my eyes on Earth I opened them in Heaven."
Crystal's remarkable journey began December 10th 2009. The Altus, Oklahoma mother of 4 had been admitted for a routine medical procedure.
An adverse reaction to medication sent the small town schoolteacher into cardiac arrest. McVea said, "My mom often says my 9 minutes in Heaven were her 9 minutes in hell, because she watched her child die."
Medical records confirm Crystal had, indeed, flatlined. For 9 minutes, doctors fought to bring her back, unaware of the splendor and glory she claims she found in the afterlife. Crystal recalled, "The moment my eyes closes there He was, 2 angels to my left, the most glorious tunnel of light that I could ever describe."
Crystal's story is more astonishing than other Heavenly encounters. Though baptized four times as a child, she always questioned the authenticity of a Heavenly Father. Crystal said, "I made up my mind. There were two choices. One, God was real and He didn't love me, or 2, there was no God. And I would hold that doubt in my life until the day I died."
Crystal's life took a downward spiral of sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, drugs & divorce. She carried years of secrets and shame. "I was the adulteress. I was the murderer. I was the sinner, the liar, the thief. I was everything at one point throughout my life that we read about in the Bible."
While she may have doubted, Crystal believes God clearly knew her heart. She told us, "I joke and say God presented Himself to me so many times. But He turned to the angels and said, okay this one. We are going to have to stop her heart. She's going to have to see Me just for a second."
Crystal recognizes there will be skeptics. Some say her story contradicts scripture. Others argue, it's merely an oxygen-starved brain causing hallucinations.
But Dr. RIchard Smith of Mercy Hospital said scientific studies on near death experiences support Crystal'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. And that's what these people say. It changes their life."
Crystal Mcvea is living a life, transformed. Her story is a New York Times best seller. She ministers to the homeless, in strip clubs and hospitals, comforting the terminally ill. "Just to say this is what I saw first, or this is what happens next. I think that's one of my greatest audiences. Still gets me every time."
And McVea said she's grateful for a God of second chances. "The next time, I don't want to say why didn't I do more for you. That is when I hope He takes me by the hand and says good job."
A good and faithful servant, with an extraordinary story. Most of us can only imagine.