– written by Rebecka Colldunberg
Irrepressible, energetic and utterly enthusiastic Pastor Dirk Willner never woke thinking that the day ahead may be his last. But that day, which started just like any other day, almost was.
It was Maundy Thursday 2004 and he had finalised preparations for a re-enactment of the Lord’s Supper being held by his congregation at the time (Buderim, Sunshine Coast). He then took his daughter to the dentist. Everything was as per usual – the calm before the storm … the whiz and flurry of Easter season for a congregational pastor.
But the excitement hit earlier than expected and in a way, no-one could ever have predicted. Driving his daughter home, Dirk felt an agonising pain rip through his chest. Momentarily he slumped against the steering wheel. His wife Penne asked if he was okay and he assured her he would be fine. He drove the last few kilometres home and struggled inside. He took a few hours to compose himself while Penne flustered, and he continued to convince her that he was perfectly alright. It was at the prepared Lord’s Supper that evening that a doctor present informed him that he looked ghastly and proceeded to call the ambulance. All the while Dirk continued to protest and put forward futile arguments in support of his perfect health.
On Good Friday morning Dirk woke up in the hospital, surrounded by a bevvy of confused-looking doctors. They could find nothing wrong with him and had no idea why his heart had been behaving as it had. After a short discussion with their patient, they agreed to let him go home and get on with his occupational peak season.
He stayed to have breakfast – an egg on toast he would never forget. As he finished off the last few ‘yolky’ crumbs a tingly sensation began in his toes. It worked its way up his body and like a wave whooshed over his head, causing him to collapse onto the hospital bed. He was flat-lining. He was dead.
‘I thank God for that experience’, says Dirk, whose life was restored, and with an understanding now of what is beyond the grave.
‘There is so much more!’ he continues, his ever-smiling face beaming bigger and brighter. ‘You have no idea how much more! When I came back everything seemed flat. Everything there had so much more dimension. It was so much more real than the reality we see here.’
Fully alive but in a vacuum of darkness. He looked left and right. But it was total darkness. ‘I didn’t know where to go. I thought, ‘”Okay God, what now?” I was not afraid. I had a healthy respect that I was dead and that I was being judged. But just as I asked that question I felt God’s hand cradle me and carry me forward.’
What came before his eyes was an indescribably beautiful mansion with golden light streaming from the windows. The light approached him, engulfed him and touched him. ‘I have never felt a joy like it!’ he says. ‘It was pure joy! I was living in that joy! The golden light carried me into a huge door and as I went in my eyes relaxed enough to see the brilliant colours inside. Sparkling. Polished. And there were people. Everyone was wearing white.’
They all had the same sense of joy, but what was more fantastic was that he immediately knew all of them. Truly knew them. ‘When you see people on the other side’, Dirk continues, ‘you see them fully as who they are’.
While he was taking this all in, as best he could, a man – shining, brilliant and bright – brought him a goblet of wine. God told him that this was the fourth cup of wine from the Passover meal, the one Jesus promised to share with him in paradise. But just as he was about to take a sip, another man whispered in the first man’s ear and Dirk was told that it was not his time yet.
And then he was alive again. Resurrected.
This is only part of Dirk’s thrilling story. He tells about touching angels, encountering fallen angels and talking heart-to-heart with God. This Easter Sunday I encourage you and your family and friends to sit down and watch Dirk’s incredible testimony. Perhaps it will inspire some life-changing conversations.
(LCAQD – District Newsletter, Easter 2017)