The Investigation

Soon after it occurred last December, I heard the report of Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu’s resurrection via e-mail from my friend, pastor David K. Aboderin, of Lagos, Nigeria. I also heard about this miracle from my friend Brent Regis, son-in-law of Reinhard Bonnke. Bonnke had been preaching at the church where Ekechukwu was resurrected a short time before it occurred.

 

Brent told me at that time some of the details of pastor Ekechukwu’s experience in hell. Some months after that, I also watched the video documentary of that miracle produced by Christ for all Nations, which focused primarily on the miracle of the resurrection. I wanted to learn more about the incident. Since I was scheduled to spend the first two weeks of September 2002 teaching at three pastors’ conferences in Nigeria, I told David Aboderin that if it would be possible, I would like to meet pastor Ekechukwu, and I prayed that the Lord would make it possible.

 

I learned that pastor Ekechukwu was from a city called Onitsha, where he was the pastor of Power Chapel Evangelical Church. Onitsha was about a three-hour drive from where our final conference would be held, in the eastern Nigerian city of Umahia. So I asked the pastors at that conference if any of them knew how we could find pastor Ekechukwu. One young man raised his hand and told me that he had a friend who had an evangelist-friend who personally knew pastor Ekechukwu. However, we also learned that pastor Ekechukwu was very difficult to meet, as he is in such great demand.

 

To make a long story short, we eventually learned that pastor Ekechukwu was temporarily staying at a hotel just five minutes from David Aboderin’s home in Lagos, where I would be lodging during my final three days in Nigeria.  We were also granted opportunity to meet him. So in a country of 120 million people, and in a city of 12 million, the pastor I wanted to see was lodging just five minutes away from me! It was either great coincidence or wonderful providence! I was granted the favor of personally meeting with pastor Ekechukwu twice during those three days and also talking with several people on his ministry staff who were very familiar with his story.

 

The following report has been compiled from several sources: (1) from pastor Daniel Ekechukwu himself by means of personal discussions I had with him from September 12-14, 2002, while I was in Lagos, Nigeria, (2) from his personal written testimony  contained in his own self-published booklet which he gave me, titled Miracle of the 21st Century, (3) from listening to his public testimony on September 13th at The Chapel of Glory, Lagos, Nigeria, (4) from the documentary video produced and sold by the ministry of Christ for all Nations, which includes the testimonies of pastor Daniel, the doctor who pronounced him dead, Daniel’s wife, Daniel’s father, the mortician who embalmed  Daniel, and several pastors who were present at his resurrection, and (5) from a personal discussion with Ede Samuel, a long-time friend and now personal assistant to pastor Daniel, who also was an eye-witness of many of the events surrounding Daniel’s death and resurrection. The events described in the following report are factual to the best of my knowledge and memory.

 

I am persuaded that due to complications from an automobile accident, Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu physically died in the late evening of Friday, November 30th, 2001, was dead for at least 42 hours, visited heaven and hell during the time of his physical death, and was raised from the dead between 3:50 P.M. and 5:15 P.M. on Sunday, December 2nd, 2001 in the basement of the Grace of God Mission, located in Onitsha, Nigeria. Pastor Ekechukwu’s resurrection is the greatest modern miracle of which I’ve heard.

 

Although some of what happened to pastor Ekechukwu is certainly extra-biblical, none of it is unbiblical. Indeed, neither the story of pastor Ekechukwu’s resurrection nor the story of your salvation is found in the Bible, making them both extra-biblical, but neither should be discounted on that basis!

 

The Account

 

On Thursday, December 29th, 2001, Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu and his wife, Nneka, had a misunderstanding that degenerated into an argument that resulted in her slapping him. He was greatly offended by this incident, to the point of not acknowledging her greeting the next morning, which was, according to what pastor Daniel said to me, an attempt on her part to begin to reconcile. Pastor Daniel admitted that throughout the day of November 30th, he angrily thought about how he would put his wife in her place when he returned home. He would not, however, make it home that Friday.

 

As he was driving home that evening, the brakes on his 20-year old Mercedes 230E failed as he was heading down a steep hill, and his car crashed into a concrete pillar that was built to prevent cars from going over a steep embankment. He was not wearing a seat belt (few Nigerians do), and his chest hit very forcibly against the steering wheel and its knob, apparently doing damage to his internal organs, as he was soon vomiting up blood and having difficulty breathing (not to mention that he soon lost all signs of life).

 

Daniel was not able to remove himself from his car, but frantic on-lookers pulled him out. One bystander volunteered her car while another bystander offered to drive him to St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, not far away on the outskirts of Onitsha.

 

Within minutes of their arrival at the hospital, a doctor began administering emergency treatment, but Daniel knew his body was not responding to it. He began praying the prayer of a man who knows he is going to die, asking God to forgive him of all his sins so that he would be ready to stand before the Lord. He also sent for his wife, Nneka, with whom he had refused to speak when he left his home earlier that day. She fainted upon hearing the news of her husband’s accident and condition, but when revived was taken by a Christian neighbor to the hospital. Daniel’s friend, Ede Samuel (whom I interviewed at length) was with her and essentially witnessed everything that transpired over the next three days.

 

Upon seeing Daniel in critical condition when she arrived at St. Charles Borromeo hospital, Daniel’s wife burst into tears, begging her husband not to die and leave her. The doctor admitted that there was nothing he could do to save Daniel’s life (keep in mind this was a Third World hospital), and so Daniel requested that he be transferred by ambulance to Umezuruike Hospital at Owerri, where his family doctor practiced. The Umezuruike hospital was 80 km away. His wife arranged for the ambulance, and it was on the way to Umezuruike Hospital that Daniel died.

 

Daniel was lying in the back of the ambulance while his wife was in the front passenger seat. He began to feel that he was not going to survive, and so he called for his wife to come to him. He began to say goodbye, give her instructions about certain church and personal documents, and admonished her to take care of their son and his church. She began sobbing greatly and amidst her tears strongly rebuked him for such negative statements. He was a man of God and should have faith, and not be speaking of dying!

 

As she was speaking, Daniel saw two large angels (they were so large that he later wondered how they fit inside the ambulance—one was as big as the ambulance) who were completely white (even the pupils of their eyes).  Daniel tried to speak to the angels, but one held his finger to his lips, motioning for his silence. The angels lifted him on either side, and Daniel realized that there were now two of himself. The angels were holding him under each arm of his spirit man (which was perfectly whole), while his broken body was lying below. Once they left the ambulance, Daniel became oblivious to the natural world.

 

When the ambulance arrived at Umezurike Hospital with Daniel’s body, it was now late at night (Friday, November 30th), and Daniel’s family doctor was not there. A member of the medical staff, however, examined his body and sadly told Nneka that her husband was dead and there was nothing that could be done.

 

So they drove to the Federal Medical Center in Owerri, but found no doctor there either. Finally they drove to the Eunice Clinic, and there Daniel was confirmed to be dead by Doctor Josse Annebunwa. There was no breathing, no heartbeat or pulse, and Daniel’s pupils were fixed. The doctor said that there was nothing he could do. A death certificate was issued at 11:30 P.M., November 30, 2001.

 

They then drove Daniel’s corpse to his father’s house in a nearby village, and naturally Daniel’s father and other family members were heartbroken at the sight of Daniel’s dead body, weeping profusely. Daniel’s father instructed them to take his body to Ikeduru General Hospital Mortuary, not far away. They arrived there around 1:00 A.M. on Saturday morning. The resident mortician, Mr. Barlington Manu, received the corpse. The primitive Nigerian mortuary where Daniel’s body was taken had no cold storage facilities, and so the mortician injected embalming chemicals between Daniel ’s fingers and into his feet. The full embalming would be administered in the morning. With the help of a staff member he laid Daniel’s body on a mortuary slab between two other corpses.

 

The next morning, when the mortician attempted to cut Daniel’s inner thigh in order to insert a tube by which he could inject more embalming fluid, he experienced a strange shock that pushed him away from the corpse. This did not surprise him, as he had experienced similar forces before and attributed them to occult powers (such things are widely practiced in Africa and highly respected by most African pastors whom I know). After a second attempt and a second shock, he concluded that Daniel must have been a member of a powerful secret society. He assumed, however, that after some occult sacrifices and incantations the powers in the corpse would subside, and he could then complete his work. (This mortician, of course, was not a Christian, but converted after Daniel’s resurrection.) Incidentally, Daniel said that people could smell the embalming chemicals coming out of his body for two weeks after his resurrection. They would hug him and hold their noses!

 

Around 2:00 A.M. Saturday morning, the mortician, who lived next to the mortuary, was disturbed by songs of worship coming from inside his mortuary, which stopped as soon as approached the mortuary doorway. Upon searching for the music’s source in his mortuary, he noticed light emanating from the face of Daniel’s corpse. This completely unnerved him.

 

Later on Saturday, he again attempted to cut Daniel’s inner thigh in order to insert an injection tube, and met with the same resistance as before.  That night the sounds of worship again emanated from the mortuary.  (Don’t assume that Daniel’s body would have been buried the day after his death.  Nigerians often bury their dead weeks after death has taken place.)

 

All of this so disturbed the mortician that he located Daniel’s father to inform him of what had been happening and to request that he remove Daniel’s corpse from his mortuary. Just before the mortician’s arrival, Daniel’s wife experienced a dream in which she saw the face of her husband, and he was asking her why they had left him in the mortuary. He stated that he was not dead and that she should take him to Onitsha where German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preaching. She determined to do so, even though her family thought she was out of her mind. It was now Saturday evening, and Daniel had been dead for 24 hours. The family finally yielded, but purchased a casket and brought funeral clothing for the mortician to dress Daniel.  The mortician, however, had to cut the clothing in order to clothe Daniel because his body was as stiff as a board. An ambulance was hired on Sunday morning, December 2nd, and the casket that contained Daniel’s body was taken to Grace of God Mission (a large church) in Onitsha, about 1½ hours away, where evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preaching at an afternoon church

dedication service. They arrived at the church around 1:00 P.M.

 

The church grounds were being protected by swarms of federal and state security guards for the sake of Reinhard Bonnke, who has received many death threats, and who is hated by Muslims all over Africa. (Not to mention the fact that the World Trade Center had been destroyed by Muslim hijackers just weeks before.) For this reason, the security guards would not allow the casket to be brought onto church grounds, thinking it might actually contain explosives. Daniel’s wife loudly pleaded with them, and opened the casket to show them her dead husband, which resulted in their mocking and even flogging her because of her persistence. She caused such a disturbance that the senior pastor was notified, and his son instructed that Daniel’s wife be permitted to bring his body to the church without the casket, and that it be placed in the basement. Daniel’s body was laid there on two tables pushed together in a Sunday School room.

 

Some believers gathered around Daniel’s body and prayed while Reinhard Bonnke, who knew nothing of the dead body in the basement, preached and prayed. Eventually, it was noticed that Daniel’s corpse twitched, and then irregular breathing started. (By this time, Reinhard Bonnke had left the premises entirely.) The attendant believers began praying fervently, and because his body was stiff and cold, they began massaging his neck, arms and legs. When those in the sanctuary got word that a dead man below was coming back to life, the basement room was soon jammed with people. Suddenly Daniel sneezed and arose with a jump. It was somewhere between 3:50 and 5:15 PM on Sunday afternoon. Daniel had died Friday night around 10:00 PM. He slowly became fully coherent over the next few hours.

 

Do you doubt this account? A report on the web site of Christ of all Nations declares:

 

Here are some hard facts that won’t go away. For two days Daniel did not breathe, his heart had stopped beating. It was in a hot climate, not suspended animation in an ice chamber. He had been injected with a harsh chemical to keep back mortification. As a corpse he was carted around for hours, pulled about, and lay in an airless narrow coffin for hours. He should have had severe brain damage, but he is alive now without any ill effects.

 

This is no unsupported claim of bringing someone to life privately, as in a house. Here was a public event, an open demonstration of revival from death.  If anyone has to be named, it is Nneka. Her incurable faith alone prevented Daniel’s burial simply to bring him where she was convinced God could bring him back to life. She regarded Reinhard Bonnke as a man of God and that in the atmosphere of faith where he ministered this miracle was possible.  The faith of Nneka dictated the whole event and her faith was honored. By whom?  Who honored her faith? If not God, who else?

 

I would add to this defense that if the incident was a hoax, I doubt that pastor Ekechukwa would have invented the story of what happened to him when he was escorted to hell, which I will relate next. Pastor Daniel’s message is now one of repentance to the church, to prepare the church to stand before Jesus, and many have indeed repented after hearing his testimony.  If his story is all a hoax, the result of this hoax is real holiness. 

 

Finally, the ministry of Reinhard Bonnke certainly needs no promotional hoax, as His Nigerian crusades are already attended by millions. He in fact states that he had nothing to do with the miracle, and wasn’t aware of the dead body in the basement of the church where he was preaching.

 

As amazing as the story of his death and resurrection is, what pastor Daniel experienced after his death is even more amazing. To him, what he experienced between his death and resurrection could have taken only fifteen minutes, even though he was physically dead for almost two days. After he was lifted from his body by the two angels in the  ambulance, he soon found himself momentarily alone, but soon joined by a different angel. Daniel stated that if he was confused about something that he saw or experienced, or if he had a question in his mind, this angel immediately gave him the answer. This angel first told him that they were going to Paradise.  There was no time expended in getting anywhere the angel took him. As soon as the angel said they were going to Paradise, they were there.

 

Daniel stood with the angel and watched a multitude of worshipping people who were dressed in sparkling white garments. He immediately thought they were angels, but the escorting angel told him that they were human beings who, “while they lived on earth, served God and had their faith focused on Christ Jesus and lived righteously.” These people were all ageless and raceless. That is, none appeared to be young or middle-aged or elderly, and none had any racial distinctives in their appearance. All were focused on a very bright light, and all worshipped in perfect unison. They would all lift their hands at once and bow at once “as if a sort of electronic device was activating them.” (This same phenomena was described to my wife by an elderly Haitian pastor who died for a short time, but was sent back to earth to finish his work.)

 

Daniel did notice one man who looked elderly among the multitude, and the thought occurred to him that perhaps that man was God, but the escorting angel immediately corrected him. The man was father Abraham.

 

Daniel longed to join the worshippers, but the angel told him that there were other things Daniel needed to see. He told Daniel they would next go to see Jesus’ promise to His followers, the mansion He had prepared for those whom “He would find righteous on the last day.” Immediately they were there.

 

Daniel said there is no earthly way to describe what he saw. The mansion had no apparent end to its height or width. It continually moved, and each room also revolved in some manner. It was made of something that was transparent like glass, and the floors appear to be made of light. Daniel didn’t see anybody in the great mansion, but heard beautiful singing. Wondering where the music was coming from, the angel immediately pointed him to the many flowers around the mansion. When Daniel looked at them more closely, they were moving and swaying and singing praise to God!

 

The angel told Daniel, “The mansion is ready but the saints of God are not.  Jesus is being delayed because Christians in the church are not ready yet.”  (This is entirely scriptural; see 2 Pet. 3:12.)

 

Next the angel took Daniel to hell, and they stood at the gate. When the angel lifted his hand and let it fall again, the gate opened, and Daniel could immediately hear the awful sounds of people screaming and weeping, but everything in hell was in total blackness. Then a bright light shone from the angel, and Daniel could see many groups of people in anguish. He told me of three specific groups that went through endless cycles of torment, forever reaping in hell what they had sown on earth. One group consisted of people who would eat their own flesh and then vomit it out onto the ground, at which time the vomit would fly back onto their bodies and turn back into flesh that they would eat again. The angel told Daniel these people were those who had eaten human flesh as an occult practice. Another group, who had stolen land from others while on earth, endlessly dug rock-hard ground with their bare hands. Another group, former fornicators and adulterers, endlessly mutilated their sexual organs, which after being destroyed, would be  regenerated only to be mutilated again.

 

As I heard Daniel relate this scene, I couldn’t help but thinking of how many times Scripture declares that God will repay every person according to his or her deeds, and also promises that everyone will reap precisely what they have sown. I remembered the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man. In the afterlife, their roles were exactly reversed. The rich man longed for a drip of water from Lazarus just as Lazarus had previously longed for a crumb from the rich man’s table.

 

Pastor Daniel also saw the former military dictator of Nigeria. He saw a Christian who had dabbled in occult practices and fallen away from the Lord, and a pastor who had embezzled money from his own church and also lied about it. The former pastor pleaded that he would return the money if Daniel could help him escape hell. Although there were different kinds of tortures, all of the people in hell writhed in agony under an unseen force that would wrench them repeatedly. All of them were shouting, wailing and gnashing their teeth. Pastor Daniel told me that if every Christian could see what he saw, there would be no need to preach the gospel, as every Christian would become the gospel.

 

The most surprising thing is what happened next. The escorting angel told pastor Daniel, “If your record is to be called here, you will in no doubt be thrown into hell.” Pastor Daniel immediately defended himself saying, “I am a man of God! I serve Him with all my heart!” But a Bible immediately appeared in the angel’s hand, and it was opened to Matthew 5 where Jesus warned that if one calls his brother a fool he is guilty enough to go into the hell of fire (see Matt. 5:21-22). Pastor Daniel knew he was guilty for the  angry words spoken to his wife. The angel also reminded him that Jesus promised that God will not forgive our sins if we do not forgive others (see Matt. 6:14-15) because we will reap what we have sown. Only those who are merciful will obtain mercy (Matt 5:7). The angel told Daniel that the prayers he prayed as he was dying in the hospital were of no effect, because he refused to forgive his wife even when she attempted to reconcile on the morning of his fatal accident.

 

Pastor Daniel wept at this revelation, but the angel told him not to cry, because God was going to send him back to the earth to grant the rich man’s request (see Luke 16:27-30). A man would come back from the dead and warn people of hell. The angel said that Daniel’s resurrection would serve as a sign and be the last warning for this generation.

 

Finally, pastor Daniel was led to the top of a mountain, at which there was a large hole full of darkness. There the escorting angel handed Daniel to a man standing there whom he didn’t recognize at first, but soon realized it was German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. The angel told Daniel that man would help him spread the gospel of salvation.

 

Both Daniel and Rev. Bonnke fell into the hole, and that is when pastor Daniel jumped up from the table where he lay at the Grace of God mission.  He was back in his body after having been dead for at least 42 hours, almost two full days.

 

As you may imagine, pastor Daniel greatly emphasizes in his preaching the need to forgive those who have wronged us, lest anyone suffer the fate he almost suffered. How important it is that we obey Jesus’ commandments regarding forgiveness and walking in love toward each other, as well as all the rest of His commandments. It is indeed time for the church to repent and “pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Do not listen to false teachers who say that holiness is not essential to ultimately gain eternal life. Jesus warned that only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 7:11). Do not listen to teachers who say that if you are once saved you are guaranteed that you will always be saved. Jesus warned His closest disciples (see Matt. 24:1-3) of the possibility of their not being ready when He returned and being cast into hell (see Matt. 24:42-25:46).

 

Keep in mind that pastor Ekechukwu did not stand condemned just because of his one sin of unforgiveness. There were other sins he was confessing in the hospital as he was dying, but his unforgiveness annulled his prayers in which he was asking for forgiveness. If we expect God to forgive us, we must forgive others. That is what Jesus said.

Are you ready to stand before Jesus, sincere and blameless?

 


A Second Follow-up Report
Concerning the Resurrection of Daniel Ekechukwu
By David Servant

One year after my interview of Daniel Ekechukwu, I returned to Nigeria again, as I have every September for the past four years.  I hoped that I would once again be able to locate and interview Daniel, as I would be teaching at a pastors’ conference about three hours away from the city where he lived.  (I should say, “Where I thought he lived,” because I later learned that Daniel had moved to Lagos, a six to seven-hour drive from where I would be in Port Harcourt.)  I also hoped to interview his wife, as well as the doctor who pronounced him dead and the mortician who partially embalmed him, in order to find out first-hand if the facts of Daniel’s miracle that I had previously reported were accurate.  I had received some e-mail correspondence from some hostile and not-so-hostile “discernment ministries” (as they call themselves), who all attempted to discredit my reporting, saying I had not done a thorough investigation.

My first stop was in the city of Owerri, Imo State, in Eastern Nigeria. There I located the Umezurike hospital, the Federal Medical Center, and St. Eunice’s Clinic, the three final medical facilities where Daniel’s wife took his body on the night of November 30, 2001 (all of which I mentioned in my first article).  They were all in the same general vicinity of Owerri. When I arrived at St. Eunice’s Clinic, Dr. Jossy Anuebunwa, who had pronounced Daniel dead, was temporarily out, but I videotaped an interview of his personal assistant, Peter Chinedu Anele.  Peter told me that he had known Dr. Anuebunwa for over twenty-two years, that Dr. Anuebunwa had received his medical degree from the University of Nigeria, and that he had been practicing medicine and gynecology for about twenty years.  St. Eunice’s Clinic was indeed a real medical clinic, with a real nurse and real patients waiting to see Dr. Anuebunwa.


From there, I drove to the village of Ikeduru, to try to find the Ikeduru General Hospital Mortuary, which I discovered is now known as Inyishi Community Hospital Mortuary.  There I interviewed on video Mr. Darlington Manu, the mortician who had partially embalmed Daniel in the very early morning hours of Saturday, December 1, 2001.  He is the chief mortician in Imo State, and always has between twenty and fifty bodies in his mortuary that are awaiting burial.  His father was a mortician before him, and he has embalmed thousands of corpses.  He showed me many photos of corpses in various stages of the embalming process.  He is not an actor, but a real mortician!

Mr. Manu showed me his ledger where he enters important information concerning every corpse that is brought to his mortuary.  It contained hundreds of entries.  He showed me Daniel Ekechukwu’s name listed there, and the date his corpse was received was recorded as November 30, 2001.  It was recorded that the corpse was taken by the relatives on December 2, 2001.  Mr. Manu related to me the story of the arrival of Daniel’s family with his body, and how he injected embalming fluid into Daniel’s fingers in order to keep them straight.  He also related how he had twice attempted to cut Daniel’s inner thigh to inject embalming fluid, and the shock he twice received.  The second time his arm became partially paralyzed, and remained so through the night.   He told me about the worship music that emanated from his mortuary during the first night Daniel’s body was lying there, and the light, “something like little stars” that floated above Daniel’s head when he searched for the source of the music in the mortuary.  He told me he located Daniel’s father the next morning, and urgently requested that he remove Daniel’s body from his mortuary because of the strange occurrences.  He told me how Daniel’s father came early Sunday morning, December 2, with Daniel’s wife to take the body to Onitsha.  He said that he had dressed Daniel’s body in a white suit, stuffed his nose with cotton, and laid his body in a coffin that the family had purchased.

Then he told me something I hadn’t known.  Mr. Manu had gone in the ambulance with Daniel’s wife, son and father to the church in Onitsha.  He was in the room when Daniel came back to life, an eyewitness!  Mr. Manu was not a Christian, and Daniel’s resurrection so unnerved him that he immediately left the room and the premises!  He told me that he soon after repented and is now serving the Lord.  His wife, a long-time believer, had been praying for him for years.

Incidentally, something I learned during practically all of my interviews is that Nigerians, particularly rural Nigerians, are not nearly so conscious of the time of day as most Westerners.  Most don’t have wristwatches or clocks.  So when you ask them what time something happened, they can only tell you if it was early or late morning, afternoon or evening.  If they wake up in the middle of the night, the next day they can’t tell you what time it happened, because they don’t know.  Mr. Manu was a perfect example of this.  So when “discernment ministries” attempt to discredit the story by showing slight time discrepancies, it only exposes what they don’t know about rural Africans.

Mr. Manu also gave me a tour of his mortuary.  I saw about twenty-five corpses in the rear portion of his building, and he showed me exactly where Daniel’s body had laid.  Some of the corpses he showed me had been in his mortuary for many months, yet the smell you might expect was very faint, and none of the bodies were bloated, all having been embalmed. (As I said in a previous report, Nigerians don’t bury their dead for weeks and sometimes months as they collect money from relatives and prepare for elaborate funerals.) Mr. Manu showed me one “unclaimed” corpse that had been lying in his mortuary for five years!  There were no cold storage facilities.

That evening, I stayed overnight in the Best Way Hotel in Owerri.  The next morning, I journeyed back to the St. Eunice’s Clinic in Owerri.  On my way there, I called Daniel Ekechukwu by cell phone using his cell phone number I had obtained a year ago.  I knew he might be preaching outside the country or anywhere in Nigeria, but I hoped he would be at his home in Onitsha, about an hour away.  If he was in Onitsha, I was intending to tell him that I would be coming there that afternoon, and to ask if I could meet him at his home.

When I reached him by phone, he asked me if I was in the U.S.  I told him I was in Nigeria.  He asked me if I was in Lagos.  I told him that I was in Owerri.  He told me that he was in Owerri, and had been staying in the Best Way Hotel—where I had just left minutes before!  I could hardly believe it.   I had come to Nigeria not knowing if Daniel would even be in the country, and thinking he was still living in Onitsha, when in reality, he had moved to Lagos (a seven-hour drive away).  However, he just happened to be in the Owerri area for his sister’s wedding that weekend.  Because his father’s house was so crowded, he and his wife had decided to get away for one night and drove forty minutes to stay in one of many possible hotels in Owerri, a city of about two hundred thousand people.  The hotel he had chosen was the same hotel I had randomly chosen, and we were both there the same night.  It was another amazing coincidence or wonderful providence.

In any case, Daniel and his wife agreed to meet me at the St. Eunice Clinic, where I was going to interview Dr. Anuebunwa.  Once we all arrived, Daniel invited me to join him later at his father’s house in the village of Amaimo, about a forty-minute drive away, once I had interviewed the doctor who wrote his death certificate.

I videotaped Dr. Anuebunwa as I interviewed him.  He is a Christian man who gave me the same answers that his personal assistant had the day before to my questions about his background.  He stated that during his seventeen years of practicing medicine, he had pronounced hundreds of people dead.  I asked him what were the chances that Daniel was only unconscious the night he pronounced him dead.  He said that there was no chance.  Daniel had no heartbeat, no respiration, no pulse, and his pupils were fixed and dilated.

From there I drove to Daniel’s father’s house, taking a dirt road to the village of Amaimo, and actually arrived before Daniel and his wife, Nneka.  So I spent time interviewing Daniel’s father on video. His story collaborated perfectly with the details I had heard from everyone else.  He told me how he fell to the ground in anguish when his son’s body was brought to his home, crying out to God and asking, “Why have You punished me like this?”  He told me about the mortician’s desperate request on Saturday morning for him to remove Daniel’s body from his mortuary.  He told me about Nneka’s dream, and Daniel’s resurrection.  He was in the room when Daniel came back to life.  I asked him if he believed that Daniel would come back to life.  He admitted that he only took Daniel’s body to The Grace of God Mission in Onitsha to please Daniel’s wife, because he feared she would hold it against him for the rest of his life if he didn’t.  (I later learned that according to their social customs, Nneka would have had to remain a widow for the rest of her life, living at her father-in-law’s home.  Her only option to remarry would have been if one of Daniel’s brothers had proposed to her.)

When Daniel and Nneka arrived, Daniel told me what had been happening to him during the year since I had last seen him.  He had traveled to Austria, Finland, Estonia and the U.S. to preach.  He had been giving his testimony all over Nigeria at Reinhard Bonnke’s crusades.  He had relocated to Lagos to be closer to an international airport and a domestic airport that serves all of Nigeria.  Someone had given him a large sum of money to purchase a nice house in Lagos, but he had used the money to purchase a generator, a sound system, platform, and a truck to facilitate his own evangelistic crusades in every state of Nigeria.  He said that earthly things now mean nothing to him.

I videotaped a twenty-minute interview with Daniel’s wife, Nneka, the true heroine of the story.  Her details harmonized perfectly with what everyone else had told me.  She never lost faith in her heart the entire two days of her husband’s death, although she faced incredible emotional challenges.  She was in the room when he came back to life.  I asked her if it was possible that God had given her a gift of special faith (see 1 Cor. 12:9), because her faith seemed so extraordinary.  She said yes. However, I must say that it seemed to me that she had stretched her own faith about as far as she could right from the time she learned of her husband’s accident.  She told me her faith had been strengthened during a number of previous trials.

I asked her if her two boys knew that their father had died.  She said that the oldest one, a five-year old, did, and was always weeping bitterly over the loss of his father.  He rode with his mother in the ambulance that took his father’s body to The Grace of God Mission, knowing that his father’s body was in the casket.  Nneka said, however, that she “deceived” her younger son into thinking that his father was in Onitsha.  When Daniel came back to life, his oldest son met him with laughter in the sanctuary of The Grace of God Mission.

I asked her if the Federal and State security police had literally flogged her when she insisted that they permit her husband’s body to be taken into the church.  She said yes, they beat her unmercifully with wooden canes.  She said that in Nigeria, they have an expression that applied to what they did to her: “They beat the hell out of me!”  (I had never heard such an expression in my life.)   I asked her how much time transpired between her arrival at the church and her husband’s resurrection.  She estimated that it was about four hours.  I have never met anyone in my life with such persistent faith.

Finally, I videotaped an interview of Daniel himself for almost one hour on his experiences in heaven and hell.  He is a passionate communicator.  There is no doubt that he believes his experience was from God.  He elaborated in much more detail than he had with me the previous year.  As I listened to him, I had the continual sense that Daniel found it very difficult to describe to his own satisfaction what he heard and saw because the spiritual realm is so different than the material realm, and there is nothing to use as a comparison to provide an explanation.  (I get that same sense when I read any of the prophets or John’s Revelation.)  I also had the sense that he himself could not understand everything he experienced while he was out of his body, and he was still contemplating them and trying to figure them out.  He would tell me his speculations about certain things he did not understand.  For example, Daniel said that the angel who escorted him always used the word “we,” speaking of himself and at least one other person whom Daniel didn’t see.  Daniel thinks that perhaps there were other angels around him of which he was not aware.  I suggested that perhaps that angel was speaking on behalf of God, as we read in Scripture that angels often do, and God was using the word “we” just as He used the word ‘us” in the first chapters of Genesis.  Daniel wasn’t sure.

Daniel again told me that his whole experience out of his body seemed like only fifteen minutes to him, and that when he was resurrected, he thought his experience had just been a powerful dream.  However, his wife eventually convinced him that he had been lying in a mortuary the previous two nights between two other corpses.  If Daniel’s experience was just a dream, it was a dream of amazing detail and revelation.

I also learned that Nneka had begged Daniel to forgive her for slapping him prior to his departure from their home on the morning of November 30, 2001.  But he had refused.  He said such a thing (a wife slapping a husband) is never done in his country.  It is an “abomination.”  His intention was to wait until after church on Sunday to ban her for one year’s separation from him to his father’s compound in the village of Amaimo.  (Women’s liberation has not reached rural Nigeria yet.)  After his resurrection, however, Daniel told his wife that his forgiveness is like bread in the refrigerator—if she wants it, she can come and get it anytime she wants!

Daniel also gave me some information about the difference between Paradise and Heaven, and hell and the lake of fire.  For example, he said that many people think that hell and the lake of the fire are the same, but they are not.  Hell is just a temporary holding place, and eventually everyone in hell will be judged at the Great White Throne of Judgment, and then will be cast into the lake of fire.  I already knew that, as it is contained in Scripture.  We read in Revelation 20:14 that death and hell (or as the NASB more accurately says “Hades”) will be cast into the lake of fire.  Daniel said that prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the saints who died went to a place in Hell.  (I would prefer to say “Hades,” as more accurately translated by the NASB.  Hades is the Greek word that is equivalent to the Old Testament Hebrew word “Sheol”; compare Acts 2:27 with Psalm 16:10.  Sheol/Hades was the Old Testament abode of the wicked and righteous after death, apparently consisting of a place of torment and a place of comfort; see Luke 16:19-31.)  Daniel said that after His death, Jesus took the righteous with Him to Paradise.  I have heard the same doctrine taught many times in America by conservative Evangelicals.

I asked Daniel about the sign he saw over the gate of hell that he saw which said, “Welcome to the Gate of Hell.”  I told him I had a hard time believing that God would put such a sign there, as it would seem to be a sarcastic, out-of-character mockery.  Daniel told me something that I had never considered, and still would like to consider in light of Scripture.  He said that Satan still has authority over the unrighteous in hell, just as he did on earth, and that hell is actually Satan’s domain.  There the devil tortures and torments his own, keeping them captive to the very sins they were enslaved to while they served him on earth.  Having nothing to lose, Satan no longer deceives them about his true nature, and so he fully reveals it to them, hating his own spiritual children who have served him.  God doesn’t deal with the unrighteous until they are brought before the Great White Throne of judgment, after which they are cast into the lake of fire.  That lake is a manifestation of God’s judgment against them, and that is why both hell and Satan himself are ultimately cast there.  One could wonder: If hell is God’s domain of punishment, why would He not cast people into hell after their judgment at His Great White Throne, rather than into the lake of fire?  Why wouldn’t He cast Satan there as well, rather than into the lake of fire as we are told He will do?  And why would God cast hell itself into the lake of fire if it is something of His design?  Something for us to think about.

Daniel also indicated that Paradise and the place of the great mansion, the “Father’s house” that Jesus has prepared for His people, are different places.  Presently, believers who die go to Paradise, he said, not to the great mansion.  He said it is only at the return of Christ when Jesus will take believers from Paradise and the earth and bring them into the mansion, His “Father’s house” (as He perhaps implied in John 14:2-3).  Daniel said that the great mansion he saw is the New Jerusalem, or at least part of it, that will one day come down from heaven to earth (see Rev. 21:2, 10).

In any case, I completed my investigation even more convinced that Daniel Ekechukwu did die on the night of November 30, 2001, and came back to life on the afternoon of December 2, 2001, in response the persistent faith of his wife, Nneka.  The evidence is very compelling.  I am also more persuaded that Daniel’s out-of-the body experience was genuine, and that he did have a divinely-granted opportunity to see parts of heaven and hell.  And I have once again made certain that I am harboring no unforgiveness in my heart!

David Servant