Mary Neal, devoted wife, dedicated mother and skilled orthopedic spinal surgeon writes about her accidental death by drowning and miraculous return to life in To Heaven and Back. A fascinating account that seems to be biblically supported except for…
Her journey begins in South America where she vacations with her husband in southern Chile. Experienced kayakers, they and their friends decide to boat the Fuy River, located in the Los Rios region “…known for its tropical beauty and array of challenging waterfalls…”
It was a warm, sunny Chilean day when the group set out, although Bill, Mary’s husband didn’t join them since he woke with “significant back pain” that morning. Although she would miss him, Mary still anticipated a thrilling, whitewater trip.
Soon after they started down the river, their boats gathered together “in an eddy” where the group discussed their approach and chose the more predictable smaller river channel. Although Mary, wary of one inexperienced kayaker who displayed limited skill and no sense of boundaries, still felt prickles of unease.
When they set out again Mary paddled forward until she saw the first boat “…lodge sideways between two large boulders…” She pulled to the left to avoid it only to see the inexperienced boater shoot past her and “…go over the main drop backward…”
Mary, unable to stop, “…crested the top of the waterfall…” unaware the ill-fated boat, wedged in the submerged rocks below waited to trap and pin her to the river “…bottoms main channel.” Thus her journey begins.
Mary’s memoir gives a detailed, first-hand account of her “visit to heaven” after she felt her soul slip from her body. She describes meeting a dozen or more “souls” who welcomed and escorted her to a “great and brilliant hall…,” spiritual beings with indistinct forms who communicated with her through thought and emotion instead of words.
Chapters begin with quotes from the likes of Charles Stanley and Ralph Waldo Emerson with Scripture cited throughout to support her spiritual journey. When told she must return to earth because her work there was not finished, she returned with a sense of purpose, which was this memoir.
At first I thought Mary’s book was incredible. However, the more I read the more unease I felt even though she used Scripture as the foundation for and within many chapters. Then I read page 73, where she writes those who die are “given the opportunity to review their lives and choices …and are given a final opportunity to choose God…”
As a born-again, Bible believing, Bible reading Christian I knew that was a direct contradiction to John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
While her book is interesting it doesn’t hold a Christian worldview since she contradicts Scripture and the salvation message. Other issues of predestination, angels and the implication that children reside in heaven waiting to be born also are not scriptural.
I believe we are born with eternal souls and the Bible says there are no second chances. We must make the choice to accept or reject Christ before we die which determines where we spend eternity. This book and so many like it demonstrate why Christians must read the Bible and know what it says. Because even Satan masquerades as an angel of light, (2 Corinthians 11:14) and he even quotes Scripture. (Psalm 91: 11-12)
‘To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary…True Story’ by Mary C. Neal M.D. Waterbrook Press, 2012, 240 Pages, 978-0307731715, $14.99
Back Cover Copy:
~~A kayak accident during a South American adventure takes one woman to heaven — where she experienced God’s peace, joy, and angels — and back to life again.~~
In 1999 in the Los Rios region of southern Chile, orthopedic surgeon, devoted wife, and loving mother Dr. Mary Neal drowned in a kayak accident. While cascading down a waterfall, her kayak became pinned at the bottom and she was immediately and completely submerged. Despite the rescue efforts of her companions, Mary was underwater for too long, and as a result, died.
To Heaven and Back is Mary’s remarkable story of her life’s spiritual journey and what happened as she moved from life to death to eternal life, and back again. Detailing her feelings and surroundings in heaven, her communication with angels, and her deep sense of sadness when she realized it wasn’t her time, Mary shares the captivating experience of her modern-day miracle.
Mary’s life has been forever changed by her newfound understanding of her purpose on earth, her awareness of God, her closer relationship with Jesus, and her personal spiritual journey suddenly enhanced by a first-hand experience in heaven. To Heaven and Back will reacquaint you with the hope, wonder, and promise of heaven, while enriching you own faith and walk with God.
Mary C. Neal, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon. She studied at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, completed her orthopedic residency at the University of Southern California and is fellowship trained as a spinal surgeon. She is the former Director of Spine Surgery at the University of Southern California and is a founding partner of Orthopedic Associates of Jackson Hole. Her after-life experience has been featured on national media including WGN, Dr. Oz, and Fox and Friends. She has served as a church elder, on several non-profit organization boards, and created the Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund. Dr. Neal lives with her family in Jackson Hole, WY.
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