Many know of Lazarus in the Bible. The account notes that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, and that when Lazarus died of illness, Jesus wept and was “greatly disturbed.” Although Lazarus had been entombed for four days by the time Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was raised by Jesus from the dead, and emerged from the tomb wearing his burial cloths.
As of this writing, Randy Kay Ministries has surfaced hundreds of “Lazarus-type” stories, meaning that we have interviewed those who died, like Lazarus, and who have risen from the dead to talk about their experiences. These accounts from those who went to Heaven or Hell tell of Jesus’ supernatural power to raise the dead even today.
Most have heard of the “Great Awakening” referenced in the annals of Christian history. During these periods, thousands came to experience an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, with countless numbers finding Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Today, another awakening is happening, and it comes through the miraculous testimonies of what we call afterlife survivors, or near-death-experience stories.
Let’s first take a look at the Great Awakenings in history, and then compare these to what is happening today, as God uses another dramatic medium through which to inspire revival throughout the world. The first revivals focused on North America, but this next Awakening, what we call “The Lazarus Awakening,” is happening worldwide.
North America has hosted many great revivals over the last few centuries. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield led the First Great Awakening in the colonial United States, in the 1730s and 1740s. In the early 1800s, the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky kicked off the Second Great Awakening. People came from around the world to witness the Holy Spirit’s power at the Azusa Street Revival of 1906. And in the 1990s, thousands flocked to the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revivals.
Now, Christ-centered afterlife testimonies are planting the seeds for the next great move of God—and quite possibly a worldwide Third Great Awakening. This year John Burke, pastor and author of the all-time best selling Near-Death-Experience (NDE) book, Imagine Heaven, took his 30-year-plus research of near-death accounts to the next level, with the introduction of his new book, Imagine God. Burke founded his church in Austin, Texas for people who “normally don’t want to go to church,” says John’s wife Kathy. Gateway Church now includes three churches, seating thousands of people who previously rejected the Christian church. Burke, a former engineer and NDE skeptic, explores commonalities he found in different NDE accounts, which he believes are all in line with Scripture.
“I brought together over 200 accounts, and you can see how they overlap and tie in with Scripture,” the pastor and NDE researcher stated. “When you look at what they report across the whole, it’s amazingly biblical, and that’s what I’m showing.” Indeed, this former NDE-skeptic recently resigned as the senior pastor of the church that he and his wife founded, to engage in full-time ministry, using the testimonies of afterlife survivors to spread the Gospel. He calls these testimonies from those who clinically died and briefly went to Heaven (or Hell), as one of the most impactful evangelical witnesses in modern days.
But this pioneer of NDE studies isn’t the only one experiencing a revival triggered by testimonies of the afterlife to a largely unchurched population. In fact, his is just one example of an insatiable hunger for God’s presence, from those whose faith was confirmed or birthed through testimonies of Heaven breaking out in places around the world.
At Randy Kay Ministries, close to twenty million people have viewed numerous testimonies; resulting in thousands of people testifying of their new salvation, and even greater numbers who confirm that they have encountered an unprecedented move of God’s presence in their life. An incredible move of God has taken place since God told Kay and his wife, Renee, to “take back the narrative” from outlets who frame NDEs from a New Age or humanistic standpoint; by grounding them in biblical foundations. Since 2020, Randy Kay Ministries has heard about thousands of salvations, and physical and emotional healings and deliverance.
Throughout modern history, the Christian church has not been entirely supportive of afterlife testimonies. One pastor stated that the church has been “outright hostile” to these accounts, calling them “heresy” or “Scripturally unfounded.” As a result, many Christian afterlife survivors have been hesitant to share their stories. When Christian publishing executive Shaun Tabatt asked Kay to co-author a series of books detailing NDE stories from Christian afterlife survivors, the market for these Christ-centered accounts had been relatively untapped. Randy Kay authored Revelations From Heaven; Jim Woodford authored Heaven, an Unexpected Journey; Captain Dale Black authored Flight to Heaven – all best sellers. But no one had published a compilation of NDE short stories until Tabatt and Kay published the books: Real Near-Death Experience Stories, Heaven and the Afterlife, and Near-Death Experiences: 101 Short Stories.
Since this widespread sharing of primarily Christian testimonies, even previous “NDE deniers” are feeling the Spirit’s fire in unexpected places. Afterlife survivor Dean Braxton, author of In Heaven, and popular world-wide speaker, reports an “an incredible hunger for God” in the public school system, of all places. “We can’t keep up with the demand in schools, to hear testimonies about Heaven,” says Braxton. Countless students are giving their lives to Christ. In the San Francisco Bay Area, public schools have invited Braxton and other NDE survivors to openly share about Jesus. “Most of these students don’t go to church,” says Braxton, “but they will go to hear about a person who met Jesus in Heaven.”
Open invitations like these are challenging the way in which the Body of Christ is reaching the “unchurched” in the world. Burke recently traveled to India to share his ministry. Braxton is traveling to Finland. Kay ministered to Pakistan, and recent reports show that these NDE accounts are reaching the underground church in places like China. Even the Middle East is receptive to hearing about Christian NDE testimonies. Israel, which remains skeptical of Christian evangelical outreaches, openly invites Christian stories from afterlife survivors. Kay’s television show, called Heaven Encounters, airs on Sid Roth’s ISN networks and Middle Eastern Television Network (METV), which reaches Muslim nations in the Middle East.
“We are in the early stages of the Third Great Awakening, largely because of these Christ-honoring NDE stories,” Kay says. “… Jesus is unveiling the mysteries of Heaven for such a time as this.”
Heaven versus Hell
For centuries, people have challenged NDE accounts of Heaven, but even more resist stories of Hell or even the possibility that Hell exists. People like Bryan Melvin, Ivan Tuttle, and others have authored books and spoken to churches and groups about their experiences in Hell, as non-believers. They witness numerous people coming to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior because, as Melvin puts it, “they got the Hell scared out of them.” Each of the Hell survivors interviewed by Kay on his Revelations From Heaven podcast tell about the horrors of Hell, and that Jesus desires that “no one go there.” They also note that Hell exists, and that denying that Hell exists does a disservice to people. “Some ‘Hell-deniers’ hold onto their belief at their own peril,” says Kay.
“I would say that God is bringing us as many Hell stories as Heaven stories,” says Kay. “Perhaps that is because Heaven is easier to accept, but Hell is difficult to fathom. It’s a place where God is not, and no one can go to Heaven without knowing Jesus as their Lord, because only those clothed with the ‘garments of salvation’ (Isaiah 61:10), purified through Christ, can enter the pure abode of God’s Kingdom in Heaven.”
“I was a militant atheist,” says Hell survivor, Bryan Melvin, “and when I died Jesus told me that I could not enter Heaven. But He also told me to declare His name in the land unknown (Hell). I saw terrors the likes of which would make your skin crawl. But each time I started to be ravaged by the demons, I cried out the name of Jesus, and that saved me.” Later, after being revived, Bryan received Jesus as his Lord and Savior, but he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) until the Holy Spirit gave Bryan a vision of Heaven; after which Bryan was healed of his night terrors.
Melvin, Tuttle, and other Hell survivors now evangelize nations with a compelling message that not only does Hell exist, but that God desires that no one goes there. After offering the solution through listener’s confessions accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior, thousands if not millions have gotten saved so that their hope is secured. They know that Heaven, not Hell, is their eternal destiny.
The Lazarus Revival Has Begun
Previous revivals relied on a spontaneous outbreak of the Holy Spirit within churches, Christian structures, or tent meetings. Today’s Lazarus Revival is happening not only within these venues, but through the airwaves, homes, schools, and spontaneous movements where people work and live. John Fenn, who experienced Heaven and was interviewed on the Randy Kay YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/RandyKay), started “Church Without Walls” (https://churchwithoutwallsinternational.org/), a network of house churches, throughout the world.
Randy Kay Ministries (https://randykay.org/) hosted the first Christian Afterlife Conference in 2022, and started an online prayer ministry that includes testimonies of healings and salvations. Their prayer team, led by intercessor and afterlife survivor Paula Langhoff, has helped prevent suicides. Their grief support ministry led by Bridge of Hope founder Sheri Briggs, has supplanted hope in place of misery; and, they have launched numerous ministries by bringing afterlife survivors to the attention of millions.
For many, the hope of Heaven is now no longer just a hope – it is a reality and one freeing people to experience the Holy Spirit through a sense of conviction sparked by one or more stories of afterlife survivors who died, met Jesus, and lived to tell about it.
As in the case of Lazarus, the power of Jesus has overcome for us, the greatest fear of all, the fear of death. “It’s amazing how liberating someone from the fear of death can open their heart to the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, like nothing else,” says Kay. “People often ask, when are we going to start seeing people rise from the dead?’ They think that seeing people rise from the dead like Lazarus would surely start a revival. I tell them, ‘I have a few hundred friends that I can introduce you to – including me.’”
Revival is happening because of the ‘walking un-dead,’ as some have described them. They testify of something that every believer will eventually see – Heaven. In a way that no other population can do, these afterlife survivors are bringing Heaven to earth, as suggested by Jesus, in the commonly known Lord’s Prayer:
“Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10 (NIV)
If you would like to know that you will see Heaven in eternity, pray this prayer now: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.”
Revival begins with your confession of Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That revival happens within your spirit, as you come alive through Christ. You then have the power of the Holy Spirit to share the Love of Jesus Christ to your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
Take it from those who clinically died and faced their eternity: “Revival begins inside, and works it’s way toward others.” Someday, as a believer, you will experience the afterlife. Maybe you will not return to this world. Most afterlife survivors state that they did not want to return to this world.
If you stay in Heaven, you will want to witness the souls that you helped bring to Christ. That happens through sharing the Good News of Christ’s Salvation. It also happens through public worship and simply by helping others. Most importantly it happens by letting go and letting the Holy Spirit release freedom over you.
Revival, beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ, starts with God working through you, and it continues in Heaven where the greatest revival of all-time will last forever!