CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) – Author and speaker Don Piper spent more than a decade in the broadcasting business, but he's not a big fan of television news.
In fact, Piper says he "hates" watching it.
That's because Piper – the man whose near-death experience is the subject of the "90 Minutes In Heaven" book and movie – grows tired of seeing bad news.
"I actually was in the broadcasting business for 11 years, and I would be passing by the newsroom and you could see that a hubbub was going on, and something horrific had just happened in the news," he told the Christian Examiner. "And you're thinking, 'What on earth is going on? Are we officially out of control here? Have we descended into anarchy?'"
When Piper turns on the news, he said he's "very mindful of the fact that the very first 15 minutes is going to be who killed who, and who robbed who." The bad news, though, simply makes Piper long for heaven.
"Thank God there is a better place where none of that exists – no pain, no suffering, no death, none of that happens," Piper said. "It makes you want to go right away. I've seen it, and I can't wait to go back. But we're here now, and we're all here for a reason."
"90 Minutes In Heaven," which was in theaters last fall and is now on DVD, tells the story of Piper's recovery from a 1989 car wreck in which responders declared him dead. It was during the time in which his heart stopped beating that he says he visited the gates of heaven. The movie stars Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker in the second "Star Wars" trilogy) and Kate Bosworth ("Superman Returns")
The "90 Minutes" book was a New York Times bestseller and has sold 2.7 million copies.
Piper was serving as a pastor in 1989 when an 18-wheeler truck plowed over his car as he was crossing a bridge on the way home from a church conference. The person driving the truck was an inmate. Piper said he is often asked if he forgave the man.
"The answer is yes – immediately. I never actually blamed him. He didn't get in the truck that day and say, 'I think I'm going to go kill somebody with my truck.' It was an accident."
Piper has always wanted to meet the inmate but never has done so. That's because the man was out of prison by the time Piper had recovered from his many injuries, and Piper never could track him down. Piper addressed the issue of forgiveness in a follow-up book, "Getting to Heaven."
"I wrote him a letter in the book," Piper said. "I wanted him to know that I forgave him and that I did want to meet him. I wanted him to know how to get to heaven. So I explained to him how to accept Christ."
Revenge, Piper added, serves no purpose.
"We need to try to help people get into heaven and help them have a better trip on the way," Piper said. "I asked God when I came back: Why did you send me back to this world? I wanted to stay there. But I know it's to help people understand that even though you're going through a long, dark night and you're in extreme pain and suffering, there is a better place, and you can have a meaningful life on the way there."