You may remember the story of Ben Breedlove - the YouTube blogger who posted a variety primarily aimed at providing relationship advice to his peers. Ben was diagnosed with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at a young age, and the heart condition led to his untimely death on Christmas Day 2011. Ben was 18-years-old.
Just weeks before his death, Ben posted a video that has since gone viral, introducing himself and describing a near death experience he had as a result of his heart condition. His sister, Ally Breedlove, was the only person Ben had told about that experience and she has now written a book, When Will the Heaven Begin?: This Is Ben Breedlove's Story, about her brother’s life and death. Ally joined Glenn on radio this morning to talk about the book and how her family is coping with Ben’s passing.
“I think it was just about a two years ago that we saw the video… of a young man named Ben that most people had never heard of that had a heart condition. And he had died briefly. And they resuscitated him. His family didn't know, after that experience, he went in and cut a video with cards. I know if you saw it, you would remember it,” Glenn said. “You could see the joy in him. You could see the truth in him and what he had seen. He explained what his condition was through these cards. And then explained how he died and what he saw afterwards. It was such an amazing video.”
“We had the Breedlove family on with us. And then Tania and I took the family to dinner, and we just got to know them. And they are remarkable people,” he continued. “Ben's sister, Ally is joining us now. She's written a book, When Will the Heaven Begin? And it's an important story, especially for anybody who has lost hope in anything and you are struggling to hold on. This will restore your confidence in God and put your feet back on a good path.”
To start, Glenn asked Ally to explain the message of the book.
“Well Ben went through a lot of suffering in his life, but he lived everyday with peace, hope, and joy,” Ally said. “And despite what he went through, he knew that the peace of God was available to him. He knew that there was the hope of heaven, and he knew that he was here for a purpose, and that we need to live our lives with purpose and with joy everyday.”
On December 6, 2011, Ben went into cardiac arrest, and his heart stopped for a full three minutes. As Ally explained, during that time, he awoke in what he described as ‘the waiting room of heaven,’ where he was able to reflect on his entire life. In that moment, Ben believed that he was able to see himself through the eyes of God, and he wholeheartedly believed he was going to go to heaven. But then he woke up and found himself back on earth.
“And when he woke up, he was disappointed because he really believed that he was going to heaven. At this point, he was really struggling with that – being back and why he couldn't have just left the suffering of this world,” Ally said. “And he had a very intimate conversation with me, one of the only serious conversations I've ever had with my brother because he was such a jokester, where he described the vision in detail to me. And at one point, I asked him if he was happy that he had woken up. And he said, I guess. And then he started crying really hard. And I just had to remind him that if he was back, he was back for a reason. And essentially, he said, ‘I think you're right. I think God let me have that vision so I wouldn't be afraid of dying. And so I would know that heaven is worth it.’”
That story is the premise behind When Will the Heaven Begin?: This Is Ben Breedlove's Story.
Ally hopes that the story will serve as a source of hope and joy in spite of pain and encourage people to recognize the reason and the purpose in every situation. During her stay in Dallas ahead of her interview this morning, Ally was already able to accomplish at least a small part of her goal.
“There are people that are writing you guys, telling you how you have changed lives,” Glenn said. “You were coming here, you were in the [the hotel] and you sat down coincidentally, some would say. Tell the story. Can you?”
“I was in the lobby of my hotel, and a man asked me, you know, what was I there for. And I told him about the book. And coincidentally – well, I don't believe in coincidences – but he had a form of cardiomyopathy,” Ally explained “And I told him how Ben lived everyday with joy. And he looked at me and said, ‘Does the joy last because I don't think it has for me.’ And so I handed him a copy of the book, and it is my deepest desire that this story will bring peace and hope to people’s lives.”
“I think it will,” Glenn said. “I can't encourage you enough to read this story and pass it on to a friend. It will lift you up. I believe that it was a story given to Ben. You may say it was given to Ben, and maybe it was given to Ben for Ben, but I believe [it was] for a reason. And you who are listening, you may be the reason it was given. Pick this book up, When Will the Heaven Begin?: This Is Ben Breedlove's Story, by Ally Breedlove available in stores and online everywhere.”
Watch the entire interview below: