Exploring all aspects of near-death experiences (and related phenomena).
My Face-To-Face Encounter With Jesus Christ
By Chris Russell
PMH Atwater's Website
My name is Chris Russell. I am 60 year-old combat veteran of the Vietnam War living in North Carolina. The purpose of this paper is to share a very profound “out of body” or “not of this world” experience that I had while undergoing surgery for lung cancer in 2000.
My story begins in 1999 when I visited a friend of mine in Virginia Beach, VA. My friend is a 70ish-year-old Christian lady who happens to have what is commonly referred to as “psychic” abilities. To those who would argue that a person cannot be a “Christian” and a “psychic” at the same time, I beg to differ and but report my truthful experiences with her herein.
Suffice it to say that my friend can "see" and or “intuit” things that most ordinary people can't. I've known her since 1974 and she's been a good friend over these many years. She is a very goodly and God revering woman who studies the Scripture and prays to our Lord daily. When I visited her in 1999 she advised me, "Chris, you have lung cancer and you're going to die". Because she has always been so accurate in the past, I took this advice seriously and immediately reported to the Veteran Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Fayetteville, NC and asked for a physical examination. I’ll never forget when the nurse on duty asked me if I’d ever had an “Agent Orange” (AO) exam and when I replied that I had not, she scheduled me for one. The AO physical examination affirmed my friend's prognosis and I was subsequently referred to the VAMC in Durham, NC (which is administered by the physicians from Duke Medical Center and which is but across the street from the VAMC). The Duke Hospital physicians performed some exploratory/surgical testing and advised me that my cancer was in “stage 3B” and was “incurable”. They told me to "go home and get your affairs in order because you're going to die and that there's nothing that anyone can do about it."
Not wanting to accept this dire prognosis I boarded a plane and went down to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX for a 'second opinion'. The physicians at MD Anderson told me that the doctors at Duke had lied to me about the "stage" of my cancer (my cancer was actually in stage 3A....there's a big difference in this staging because the National Cancer Institute (NCI) advises that stage 3A cancer patient may be a candidate for surgery while stage 3B is not eligible for surgery). However, the physicians at MD Anderson advised me that otherwise, their physicians’ prognosis was pretty much the same as Duke had expressed and that in any event I was probably going to die. Fortunately for me, however, another friend of mine (who happened to be a Social Worker at the VA’s “Vet Center” in Fayetteville) called me one night (3:30 AM) in Houston and told me that he'd been in touch with some oncologists/physicians at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center in Greenville, NC and that they had expressed that they would be amenable to seeing me in spite of the fact that I didn’t have any medical insurance. So I boarded the next flight home and rushed to Greenville, NC where the fine medical personnel at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center (LJCC) examined me. Then the oncologists and social workers at LJCC found a "clinical trial" that I qualified for and they offered me treatment paid via the auspices of MEDICAID. So, I, along with 11 others (who shared the same stage of cancer that I had), entered the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center’s ‘clinical trial'. Long story short is that I had a remarkable reaction to the chemotherapy as it all but eliminated the 5.5 cm malignant tumor which had been growing in my left lung. While the chemo didn't totally and completely eliminate the cancer, it did eliminate enough of it that the surgeons came to me one day and said that they would be willing to perform surgery in an attempt and with the hope of saving my life. Initially visualizing that he would only have to take but 1/2 of my left lung, once he'd gotten in there, the head surgeon realized that he'd have to take the whole lung...which he did. All went well and I seemed to heal up OK. Then about a month later the doctors discovered that I had developed a "fistula" and they would have to go back in and repair it. (A fistula is a hole in the bronchia tube from where the bronchia tube had been severed in the removal of my lung). The good doctor said that he had to advise me that fistulas are the number-one cause of post-surgical mortality following a pneumonectomy. So, a month after undergoing my first pneumonectomy, I had to have another one! This time however, I died or “flat-lined” on the operating table. This is when my beautiful albeit incredible and miraculous story really begins…
Laying there on the operating table, I awoke following the surgery/pneumonectomy. When I opened my eyes and looked across the operating room the first thing I noticed was that the entire surgical team (which consisted of about seven physician/surgeons) was grouped together in a football-like huddle on the far side of the operating room. Listening intently, I could hear one of them talking and the more I listened, I realized that they were praying for me!
Then, all of a sudden, one of my prayerful surgical team members turned and looked directly at me. Apparently, he’d noticed that I had my eyes wide-open and was looking back at him because the next thing I remember is that he excitedly shouted out loud, "He’s alive!" …and with that they all broke huddle and came rushing back over to my bedside. They were all very busily checking their medical instruments and at the same time telling me how surprised they were to see me (alive) because I had died and that they'd tried everything they could think of to revive me...all to no avail. Finally abandoning their attempts to revive me, they decided to gather together across the room and pray for my soul.
Now, back at my bedside and for about the next 20 to 30 minutes they systematically went about checking this machine reading and that and doing whatever doctors do with a patient who’s in recovery. Eventually, one by one, they all wandered off to their other choirs. All but one that is...this one physician stayed by my bedside and eventually looked down at me and said, "you're probably wondering why I'm still standing here." To which I replied, "You want to tell me some more about my dying...?" to which he replied, "No, that's not the reason why..." So, I asked him, "Well, uh, what's up, doc?" He said, "I've been performing these same surgical procedures for the past twenty-(something) years and something happened here today that I've never experienced before. It's had such a profound effect on me that I feel that I have to tell you about it". So, I said, "ok, go ahead" He started, "we had you wide-open and were removing some special kind of fat tissue from your heart to use to tie-up your fistula when all of a sudden you started talking out loud! Surprised, we all jumped back from the table as we initially thought that you had perhaps come out from underneath the anesthesia. But when we checked our instruments, we found that, no, you were still under…still unconscious...so we just stood there and listened while you talked." So I said, "Well, uh, what did I say?" (I had no recall of anything that had happened while this was going on). He replied, "It's not so much what you said as it was to whom you were talking to...” So, I said, "well, uh, who was I talking to...?" He said, "You were talking to Jesus Christ!" When he said this, I just didn't know what to say...I thought, "Gee, that's not very funny, why would this doctor say something like this to me?" Anyway, looking deeply into his eyes, I could tell that he wasn’t joking. He was quite serious...he looked somewhat shaken up. So I quietly said, "Well… was He talking back to me or was I just hollering out into the void?" He said, "We couldn't hear any other voices but it sounded like you were engaged in a two-way conversation." Then he added, “By the way, I'm going to make sure that this gets into your medical records." With that I thanked him and he went on his way. About 10 days later I was mended up enough to be released from the hospital and I went home.
I'd all but forgotten about this event until about a month later when I traveled back to Virginia Beach, VA and visited my psychic/spiritual friend. When she entered the room she froze on the spot and stared at me with a look of total astonishment and incredulity. She said, "Chris, you're all lit up...you've got lights protruding out from all around and over you...you have angels flying all around your head!" She crossed the room sideways, never taking her eyes off of me. She had a look of absolute astonishment on her face. She eventually made it to her desk and sat down still intently staring at me. Without saying anything else, just staring, she began to cry...tears began streaming down her face. I didn't quite know what to think about all this but her behaviors began to affect me. Then, very quietly she said, "Chris, you know that you died last month on the operating table..." I said, "Yes, the doctors told me that I did." Then she really rocked my world saying, "Well, did they tell you that you had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ Himself?" I almost fainted. Instead, I managed to reply, “Yes, they did. But they couldn't tell me what He had to say. Do you know what He had to say?" She said, "Yes, I have the whole thing..." To which I replied, "well, you've certainly got my attention...what did He say?" She replied, "I'm going to tell you what He said but first I need to tell you something else first." I said, "OK, go ahead" She said, "Chris, when you came to see me last year and I told you that you had cancer and that you were going to die...that was it...that was your life expectancy...you're not supposed to be here right now. I just wanted you to know that. Now, I'll tell you what happened, what He said and why you're still here." I said, "Please do." She said, "Chris, when you died and you left your body, you screamed out at the top of your voice that you were sorry if you had ever hurt anybody in anyway while you were on Earth. You screamed it out so loud and with so much emotion and conviction that you startled everybody that was around you at the time. He just happened to be over there and He came over to where you were to see what all the commotion was about." She said, "Chris, you jumped in front of Jesus Christ and started talking your head off…you didn't really know who He was. But you just started telling him that you had just gotten out of prison and were undergoing treatment for cancer and that you were now getting a big government check (VA disability check for exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam) every month and that you would never have to go back to work again and that you weren't ready to die...that you wanted to go back and have some fun. You got them all laughing. It was then that He reached over and touched you and instantaneously cured you of your cancer and sent you back to your body. You are now going to live for another 26 years. Do you want to know what you're going to be doing for the next 26 years." I naturally said, "Yes, tell me" She said, "You are going to spend the rest of your life helping others who have had similar experiences that you've had. You want to know why you're going to be doing that?" I again said, "yes, why". She said, "Because that's all you really want to do is to help others. Isn't that wonderful?" She had stopped crying and was now smiling. She said, "Chris, you're going to tell a lot of people about what's happened to you but very few are going to believe you. But I believe you because I've seen and heard it with my own eyes and ears. I’ve been giving these readings to people for the past 40 years and you are the only person that I’ve ever seen, other than myself, who has ever had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ.” (I asked her about her encounter with the Lord but that’s her story and not mine to talk about).
That incident took place in the year 2000. Since then, my cancer metastasized to my neck in 2003 and this elevated my case to “stage 4” lung cancer. Once again I attempted to get the needed medical help from the VAMC for my “service-connected” disease and once again the VAMC in Richmond, VA refused to help me. Instead, they said they were refusing to offer me surgery because there was simply “no chance for a cure” (see Medical Notes attached). So once again faced with the prospect of dying because of not being treated, I had no alternative other than to return to the fine folks at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center and receive the necessary surgery yet again administered via Medicaid. Immediately following the surgery however, my surgeon came to me to advise me that he had been unable to remove all of the cancer and that there were still some cancer cells left in my body. Remembering what my psychic friend had told me three years earlier about my living for another twenty-six years, I simply smiled at the good doctor and thanked him for doing his best. When I had another CT scan a couple of months later, I was “cancer free”. Not believing their eyes, the doctors have advised me to have CT scans every ninety days since then. It is now five years later and March, 2008. I am writing these memoirs feeling fine and thanking the Lord for every day that I’m alive. In 2005, I returned to school and obtained a Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree from the University of North Carolina at Fayetteville State University in hopes of helping others. My cancer fighting experience has definitely changed my life. While the above story isn’t the only instance in which I’ve noticed the Divine influence in my life, it is undoubtedly the most dramatic. As a footnote, I would like to note that of the original 12 participants that were initially entered into the clinical trial in 2000, I am the only one still alive today.
I thank you for taking the time to read my story. I tell someone every day of my experience with Jesus Christ and how He touched me and cured my cancer. I especially like telling my story to other cancer patients as my story seems to impart a sense of hope and faith in those facing death. I like to think that my story gives solace and comfort to others who are told that “you have cancer and you are going to die and there isn’t anything that anybody can do about it...”
Living In His Grace,
Chris Russell Fayetteville, NC
P.S. My psychic friend’s name is Mrs. Joy Talley. She lives in Virginia Beach, VA.