It’s a true honor to introduce you to Eva Piper, author of recently released A Walk Through The Dark. Eva is the wife of Don Piper who authored New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes In Heaven. In 1989, Don was in a significant head-on crash with an 18 wheeler. He was proclaimed dead on the scene, spent 90 minutes in heaven, and miraculously survived to share his account with millions worldwide.
Anyone who has experienced trauma knows it has a life-changing impact not just on the individual, but on family members as well. In her book, A Walk Through The Dark, Eva courageously shares her faith-filled journey as wife and caregiver following Don’s accident. Don had the privilege of spending 90 glorious minutes in heaven, but returned to find himself in excruciating pain, stuck in a hospital bed for months, and Eva was by his side every step of the way.
I read Don’s book, 90 Minutes In Heaven, and Eva’s book, A Walk Through The Dark, back to back, which I highly recommend as the books complement each other perfectly. One thing that struck me as I read each book was the powerful presence of a man named David Gentiles. David played a significant role in Don’s recovery after the accident, and was ultimately the one who convinced Don to share his story about heaven. I asked Eva to share more about David in this guest post, and consider it an absolute honor that she entrusted me with the sharing of this miraculous story today.
My husband had miraculously survived being hit head-on by an 18 wheeler on a rural Texas highway on January 18, 1989. It had taken 5 1/2 hours for him to finally arrive at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston. His right kneecap was shattered, his left arm had been lying on the back seat, four inches of femur from his left leg had been ejected from his body and thrown out of the car never to be found.
Those injuries were catastrophic themselves but now 17 days later we faced an even more dangerous situation. Following what was suppose to be a minor surgery he developed double pneumonia. Due to the massive injuries to his legs there was no way to elevate him in order to provide the needed breathing treatments. Don got worse and worse each day. The ICU staff, his doctors, and I tried our best to get him to attempt to breathe.
I found myself begging, pleading, yelling at him “Breathe, breathe you have to breathe.” Each time he would respond, “Hurts too much.” By the third day doctors were talking about putting him on a respirator. They told me that once he was on that his chances of survival were slim. I couldn’t believe God had brought him through the accident, the long trip to Houston, an all night surgery just to have him die from pneumonia.
I was exhausted from being at the hospital non stop. I kept questioning myself “Why can’t I get through to him? Why won’t he listen to me about how important it is to try and breathe?” In complete despair I took my fears to God. I began to pray, asking for God to help me know what to say to Don. I begged Him to give me the right words. I claimed His promise never to leave me. In the midst of the prayer I realized God had a different plan from the one I was seeking. I raised my head, walked over to the phone and called Don’s closest friend.
David Gentiles was living in Austin about 160 miles away. When David picked up the phone I told him all that was going on with Don. Before I could even form the question asking him to come to the hospital, David said “I’m on my way.” I thanked him and hung up the phone. Instead of praying for Don I began to pray for David and his safe travel.
Three hours later I looked up to see David walking down the hall towards me. His strong embrace said more than any words he could have uttered. Since David was a minister he was allowed into the ICU to see Don. I didn’t go in with him so I didn’t hear their conversation in person. I do know Don told David he didn’t have it in him to fight to survive to which David replied, “That’s alright. You don’t have to do a thing. We are going to pray you through this. We are going to pray all night.”
True to his word David gathered a group of believers who began an all night prayer vigil for my husband. The following morning Don’s breathing had improved. His doctors were thrilled with his progress and began to make plans to move his healing process along. It would require 34 surgeries to repair the damage to Don’s legs and arm. But they would not have been possible if his breathing had not improved.
Throughout the ordeal of Don’s wreck and recovery I was shown over and over that God always answers prayer. He answered my prayer that night not as I had asked but in His bigger and better plan. Because I was led to call David, and because David called others who prayed many had the experience of seeing our prayers answered. I’m so very thankful I didn’t try to do things my way but instead followed God’s guidance. His way is always best.
David continued to be an important part of our lives. It was David who realized Don had experienced something while lying dead in that crushed car and through his patient questioning helped Don share his remarkable experience. It was David who convinced Don to share his story of seeing heaven. It was David who co-officiated with Don at our daughter Nicole’s wedding. It was David who served as president of the board of Don Piper Ministries. It was David who prayed for my mom when she suffered a stroke. It was David who Don would call to talk baseball, football, ministry, life. David brought much joy, happiness, and love to all who had the privilege of knowing him. We miss him terribly. At times we still want to pick up the phone and call him. There is a big hole in our heart but we know one day he’ll greet us in heaven with that same big smile and huge hug.
Eva’s book, A Walk Through The Dark, is available for purchase through many outlets listed on her website www.evapiper.com. Don’s book, 90 Minutes In Heaven, is available for purchase through Amazon and on his website Don Piper Ministries.