- (Photo: Matthew Botsford)
The bullet pierced the back of his head and Matthew Botsford didn't have a chance of surviving the single shot. He was dead. While his earthly body gave up, his spirit was already trapped in hell and there was no way out.
Botsford spoke to The Christian Post about his experience when he says he was taken to hell. While he was being tormented, a hand came down to his rescue and simply said "it's not your time." He was in a coma for 27 days and lived to testify that hell does exist and that it is definitely not a place anyone wants to go to, especially when it wasn't intended for humanity.
The following are excerpts from the interview.
CP: Can you tell us about your life before the accident? Did you believe in God?
Botsford: No, I did not believe in God. I knew God existed but I didn't have a relationship with His son. During college I turned my back; I was my own boss kind of thing.
CP: Did cops ever catch the person who killed your business partner and injured you?
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Botsford: Yes, they were caught on the scene. There were three of them, and they had dropped their driver's license on the scene so the police eventually tracked them down. They went to prison for a couple of life sentences.
CP: Did you ever meet them?
Botsford: I did meet them because when I was still in the wheelchair there was a murder trial so we were in court.
CP: So tell us about hell, what is the first thing you want people to know?
Botsford: I want them know it's real. I have seen a lot of literature coming out and hitting the "bestsellers" lists and removing the fact that hell is a real place. I want people to know that hell is a serious thing. Hell was never intended for us; God doesn't want any one of us to go there. He wants all of us to come to Him through repentance. It's a simple thing. We believe that Jesus is the son of God and we should have a relationship with Him. It's important to spend time with Him and get to know His word. It's all based on relationship.
I want people to know that hell is real and it's a place that definitely has to be avoided; it's a place of eternal torments.
CP: What happened in hell?
Botsford: After I got shot, the last thing I remember feeling was as if you heated up a hypodermic needle and started getting it on the top of your head. Well, when the bullet came on the back of my head, which it's still in the right lobe to this day, I felt a very painful feeling. My whole body just collapsed, they documented me dying three times. I was in a coma for 27 days.
What I experienced in hell, I immediately was in my full bodily form. I looked like myself but I didn't have any clothes on and I was hung like crucifixion style in a very deep abyss. All I could see beneath me was very red, it was very hot. I was chained on both my wrists and I had shackles on my ankles. I knew I was in some sort of cavern. It was pitch black. I knew I was going to be there forever. I knew there was nothing I can do to get myself out of it. I didn't know the name of Jesus so I never prayed, you know "Jesus, please save me."
I didn't have that opportunity. I didn't know the name of Jesus. I saw these pairs of eyes start to come at me from various directions and the Lord told me recently that these demonic entities, each eye was its own demon but they travelled in pairs because Satan mocks what Jesus did for us. For example, Jesus sent disciples two by two to evangelize and here Satan sends demonic things, two by two and they would know everything about me. They knew things that I did in my past, they would mock me, and they would torment me. They knew things like messing around with pornography, they knew all of that and they would judge me. That was interesting about it because these demonic things had been cast into hell and here I'm being judged by them. Some of them would come around my backside and they had had very long fingernails, if you could call them that and I would feel them stretch out off of its very flesh. They were doing everything to me.
We are created in the image of God; so here I am in hell, in their realm and as I'm hanging there I see this lava flow. I was reading the other day Revelations where it talks about fire and brimstone and brimstone is actually sulfur and for sulfur to create a lake flow it has to be on a high boiling temperature just like lava. So it would flow into this cavern-like area when it approached me, before I came down to this great big abyss some of it would splash off because of the sheer of flow, the lava would actually be contacting my legs and I could smell and feel my own flesh burn off and what was more tormenting than that is that it would re-form. I'm not in time anymore; I'm in an eternal realm. Time doesn't have anything to do with it there.
My flesh was re-formed and there was this continual mocking, this sense of hopelessness, and evil in all sides. There was nothing good there. It was totally void. Even in life, if we are having a bad day we kind of know that something good is around the corner. There was nothing good around the corner. I had no memories of my wife, no memories of anything good. It was just a pure distance; the soul was just kept but then things changed.
My wife, we had been married about three years at that time. She didn't know the Lord either. When she went to my hospital bed, she said, "Lord, bring back my husband and I promise to stay with him for the rest of his life, whether it's in a wheelchair, institution or whatever it may be, I promise to stay with him." What I saw happen in hell, on my side of existence was I saw fingers started to come in from the outside. Then I saw it was an entire hand; I knew it was a man's hand, the right hand and something inside of me, in all of this torment I knew this was the hand of rescue and then when His right hand started to descend toward me it dropped this great white light, and I heard the most magnificent music, angelic choir; I love music but it was nothing like I heard before.
When the hand came near me, just like King Kong, when he puts his hand around her waist, so it lifted me up and the shackles fell off. I didn't know if it was the hand of God but this hand grabbed me by the waist and the blackness left. Everything disappeared. I knew at that moment that I was going to be okay. Then I heard a voice and this voice simply told me, sounding like the clap of thunder, rushing waters and a bolt of lightning, all combined together and it simply said, "It's not your time."
I was in a coma for 27 days and in rehab for years. I am walking today. Fully healed. Now it's all up to Him.
CP: Do you have something to say to skeptics?
Botsford: The only thing I can say is I guess, I would ask them the question. This is one of those things that kind of makes you speechless. How do you know you love someone? You just know. You just know. What I experienced, I experienced. It wasn't oxygen deprivation to my brain; it wasn't any drug induced or anything like that. Believe me, I know what I experienced and I know the pain I was experiencing and the terrors that I was seeing so that's in all, if you can tell me in words how you love somebody, you just do, you just know.
CP: Are the images as fresh as they were when you were there?
Botsford: Very. Very. Very. There are times when I don't speak about it because it's like a movie, it just rolls and it feels like I'm there. Whenever I speak about it whenever I testify, it's there. What's unique is that the Holy Spirit always tells me that there is more that you don't know yet because it's kind of like the word of God and God Himself. We can never know His fullness, there is always so much more.
We want to do all that we can do, especially in these times and let people know that hell is real, it exists and it wasn't intended for us. It was for the devil and his angels.
CP: Are you familiar with Rob Bell? What is your opinion?
Botsford: I haven't read any of his books; I have read a lot of opinions about it. Without myself actually reading it, I can't have an opinion of it. I know it's stating things such as love wins and love does win. That's why Jesus came and died for us all. That was love. God said to His son, "Come down from your throne, you have to go down there in human form to redeem all of mankind and I'm going to give mankind a choice whether they can assist you or not." That's love, it does win.
CP: What about Bin Laden?
Botsford: That made me sad. Militarily and humanitarianly speaking it's a great thing, but when people die, that makes me sad unless I know they knew God and loved Jesus and they did what they were supposed to fulfill on this earth, when they fulfilled their plan that God gave them; then I'm not sad. I just don't think that the life he was living was fulfilling the plans that God had intended so that makes me sad, to think that maybe he would be where I was.
CP: What is your ministry about?
Botsford: Yes, it's Seeds of Love ministry. We love speaking to kids, we love speaking to older folks. What we love about it is that it's the perfect time for it to come out now. We have a book, A Day in Hell: Death to Life to Hope, that chronicles the whole thing. But the subtitle of it, it's Death to Life to Hope. It's not about hell; it's about the loving relationship with the Father.
CP: Why did God say it's not your time?
Botsford: Because I believe we all have an appointed time and that wasn't mine but I also want to say this really fast. During the whole proceedings, my wife and I forgave the gentleman that did the shooting. I firmly believe that they only acted according to what was in their heart. They were following the wrong path; they were following Satan's deeds. They were drunk and intoxicated and angry and shot some people outside a restaurant. While we were waiting for a taxi, the shooting happened.
Forgiveness, it's so important. It allowed me to come out of the coma; not forgiving would've probably not allowed me to come out of the coma because you know, the doctor’s predictions was that I was most likely [going to] be institutionalized because of the track of the bullet. I would've been in a vegetative state.
CP: Do you have any further comments?
Botsford: I think I got it all out. Jesus is the way.