2004 - Reported in the southcoasttoday.com
- Written by Linda Rodrigues. Rev. Howard Storm speaks to area faith
leaders about his conversion. Dartmouth, MA. - A native son and
newspaper carrier for The Standard-Times in Falmouth, Howard Storm
went on to earn a master's degree from the University of California,
Berkeley, and for 20 years was an arts professor at Northern Kentucky
University. An avowed atheist, he believed that there was no such
thing as life after death -- until the day in 1985 when he died
and went to hell.
about 125 people at Smith Mills Church last week, Mr. Storm became
very emotional, often stopping to compose himself, as he described
his near-death experience, which transformed his life. In 1985,
Mr. Storm, 38, and his wife, Beverly, were in Paris on the last
day of an art tour. Buckled over by searing pain in the middle of
his stomach, he was rushed to the hospital. Awaiting emergency surgery,
he knew he was dying. He said good-bye to his wife and drifted into
he realized he was between two hospital beds. He looked at Beverly,
who was motionless, staring at the floor, sitting in the chair next
to his bed. He spoke to her, but she didn't seem to hear. As he
bent over to look at the face of the body in the bed, he was horrified
to see the resemblance that it had to his own face. But he knew
that was impossible because he was standing over the person and
looking at him. Off in the distance, outside the room in the hall,
he heard voices calling him. They were pleasant voices, male and
female, young and old, calling to him in English. "Come out
here," they said. "Don't you want to get better?"
He stepped out
into the hall, full of anxiety. The area seemed to be light but
very hazy, and he couldn't make out any details.
He followed them shuffling along in his bare feet with the memory
of pain in his belly, yet feeling very much alive. The fog thickened
as they went on, and it became gradually darker. Overwhelmed with
hopelessness, he told them he would go no farther and that they
were liars. He could feel their breath on him as they shouted and
snarled insults. Then they began to push and shove him about, and
he began to fight back. A wild frenzy of taunting, screaming and
hitting ensued. As he swung and kicked at them, they bit him.
he couldn't see anything in the darkness, he was aware there were
dozens or hundreds of them all around and over him and that his
attempts to fight back only provoked greater merriment. They began
to tear off pieces of his flesh, and he realized that he was being
taken apart and eaten alive, methodically, slowly, so that their
entertainment would last as long as possible. In that wretched state
he lay there in the darkness. Suddenly remembering a prayer from
childhood Sunday School class, he said, "Yea though I walk
in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou
art with me."
To his amazement, the cruel merciless beings were incited to rage
by his prayer. They screamed at him, 'There is no God! Nobody can
hear you!" But at the same time they were backing away. He
realized that saying things about God was actually driving them
away, and he became more forceful. They became more rabid, cursing
and screaming against God, but in time, they retreated back into
the distant gloom beyond his hearing.
and yet painfully alive in this horrible place, he yelled out into
the darkness, "Jesus, save me." Far off in the darkness,
he saw a pinpoint of light like the faintest star in the sky. The
star became brighter and brighter. As it came closer, he realized
that he was right in its path, and he might be consumed by its brilliance.
This was a living being approximately 8 feet tall and surrounded
by an oval of radiance. The brilliant intensity of the light penetrated
his body. Ecstasy swept away the agony. Tangible hands and arms
gently embraced him and lifted him up. He slowly rose up into
the presence of the light, and the torn pieces of his body miraculously
healed before his eyes.
After his words
of personal witness, Mr. Storm answered questions for an additional
two hours. "He told me that he has given this talk hundreds
of times, but whenever he describes these creatures, he just comes
apart," said the Rev. Michael Robinson, pastor of Smith Mills
Church. After Mr. Storm's near-death experience, he entered United
Theological Seminary and was ordained as a minister of the United
Church of Christ. Since 1991 he has been pastor of Zion United Church
of Christ in Cincinnati. He documented his near-death experience
in the book "My Descent into Death and the Message of Love
which Brought Me Back," published in 2000.
Earlier in the
day, the Rev. Storm spoke to about 30 area faith leaders at Smiths
Mills Church on the topic "Bringing Passion of the Gospel into
City Ministry." "Jesus weeps for New Bedford," he
said. "He can heal addictions, broken relationships and poverty.
I broke every one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus can fix what's
wrong with us."
|Learn more about
Howard Storm's story.