For 12-year-old Colton Burpo, heaven is for real. In fact, the Imperial, Nebraska-native believes he’s been there.
When Colton was just four-years-old, he had a 17-day stay in the hospital for a ruptured appendix. During that stay, he and his family believe he traveled to heaven. However, his mother Sonja admits that she and her husband Todd didn’t always believe what seemed at-first to be the products of a young child’s wild imagination.
“He started telling us stuff at first but we weren’t listening because we were so tired and emotionally drained,” she said. “It was four months later that we finally woke up and realized that he did have this trip to heaven.”
Colton was in fact describing the angels he saw and his conversation with God, Sonja said. She says he also told them things he couldn’t possibly have known on his own.
Two notable examples include descriptions of relatives the young boy had never met. The first was the child Sonja miscarried before Colton was born. She said she and Todd hadn’t even known the sex of the baby, but Colton said he did.
“When he came and told us one day that he had two sisters, it took us by surprise that he even knew he had another sibling,” Sonja said. “And to find out it was a sister just solidified with us that it was for real.”
And then there’s Colton’s description of his grandfather, who died 30 years before Colton was born. Todd, who had a close relationship with Pop, as they called him… was amazed.
Since Colton’s near-death experience, the Burpos say they have shared their story aiming to bring hope and healing to people who’ve lost loved ones, or are fearful about death.
They’ve written three books, appeared on many television shows and are in talks for a movie. But the family says it’s not about the publicity.
“We never intended to write a book, but we continue to share [our story] with people and people just seem to respond to it,” Sonja said. “We get letters and emails and Facebooks, just a lot of correspondence in, [with people writing] how it’s been helping them.”