Wayne Shaw was not that concerned when he started to get a sore throat – he realised that he had been smoking too much. What he didn’t realise was that he was about to have a massive heart attack, taking away his life, and also giving him a glimpse of his Maker. This is his story.
Looking back, my problems started through difficulties I was having at work. I was employed by a telecommunications company, and started to have problems with my health which were stress related. I began waking up in the middle of the night, sweating with panic attacks. My doctor advised that should take some time off work. The stress started to make me feel depressed, and then my father was taken into hospital, and was diagnosed with cancer. Within three weeks he was dead. That increased my depression, causing me to take yet more time off work.
I was still off work two months later – but I knew that I needed to get out of the house, and start to get busy again. I offered to help a friend of mine called Glyn, who was working repairing roads in Stroud. In spite of the fact that it was early June, the work wasn’t going very well when I arrived, because of the rainy weather. So I ended up standing around a lot, chatting and smoking numerous cigarettes.
Around mid-morning I started to get a really bad throat, which I thought was because of my smoking. Someone suggested that I drink some fluids, but that didn’t work – I still felt hoarse and dehydrated. Around three in the afternoon Glyn said that he would probably be working overtime, which meant that he wouldn’t be finished until 9 o’clock. I still thought that my throat problems were because of smoking. I ended up in one of their pick up trucks, enabling me to stay with Glyn, but no longer having to stand around. I mentioned to the foreman that I still didn’t feel well, and he suggested that I go with Glyn to see a doctor. By then my teeth had started to ache. A little while later I began to get indigestion-type pains in my chest, before being violently sick. Glyn now realised that there was something quite seriously wrong with me.
I noticed some houses in the distance, and wondered if someone there would be able to help me to go to a hospital. I climbed into the pick-up truck, and sweat started to pour off me as I turned the ignition key. I wanted to be sick again, and had a terrible pain in my elbows.
After about ten minutes, which seemed like a lifetime, I saw a vehicle with yellow flashing lights coming towards me. I was now feeling pain in every part of my body. It was even too painful to wear my seat belt. My friends were counting the miles as we went along, to try and keep my spirits up. Although I had no experience of God, I was praying that He would help me. It was thirty miles to Cirencester, and I was aware of every mile. I was awake, but not really taking things in – it was as though I was slipping away. But that wasn’t the worst of my problems. I felt as though there were a herd of elephants standing on my chest. Strangely enough the possibility of having a heart attack had not crossed my mind at this point.
I saw road signs to Cirencester, and suggested to the guy sitting next to me that we ought to go straight to the hospital. Taking one look at me, they agreed to drive me immediately to hospital. On arrival I went straight to Casualty. I stood at the desk – and promptly collapsed.
I was put on a stretcher, and a doctor said that he was going to give me morphine. Then I heard someone say, ‘He’s having a heart attack.’ The doctors wired up to some machines, and whisked me off to Cheltenham by ambulance.
I was aware of the ambulance rushing along the roads and an ambulance man, holding my hand, trying to give me some comfort. But I felt terrible. I was in an emotional turmoil, and I felt very sorry and upset for what was happening to me. I must have lost consciousness, because the next thing I remember was being in a lift in a Cheltenham hospital. Soon I was put on a further morphine, which made me feel high for about three days. By the time I was fully conscious again, my mother, sister and elder brother had arrived from South Wales. My mother wanted to know how I felt and I said ‘If they can sort my throat out I’ll be happy’.
After three days I was moved to an outside bed in the ward, indicating that I was starting to recover. But what the patients were allowed to do was strictly monitored, because the staff didn’t want us to get too excited about anything. So we could not watch TV, but we were allowed to hear certain programmes through headphones. For most of the day I worked on a huge jigsaw. It had taken a lot of my energy, but I was pleased that I had finally completed it. I sat on my bed, waiting for the comedy programme to start after the news, but as I picked up the headphones to listen to it, I collapsed.
I was aware of keeling over very quickly. I felt myself going forward then, all of a sudden, I was out of my body. I was in total and utter darkness. It was as though I had been dropped off the edge of the Earth. I had no feeling, and therefore no pain. I don’t know how long I was like that for, but after a while it was as though I was being taken somewhere. I appeared to be in an empty void, which is very difficult to describe. I remember shouting that I didn’t want to be there. I then started shouting ‘No, please God no,’ and giving out a long drawn out scream.
Then a light appeared in the corner. It lit up my left hand side. The scene immediately changed from total blackness to light, which seemed to be coming from a kind of archway. Then I saw a Figure with His hands outstretched. But He wasn’t calling me. The light was now so bright and white that I could not see colours. All I could see was black and white. The Figure was brilliant white with a crown on His head. I also noticed that He was wearing a gown. I could not see His feet, or any of His facial expressions because of the brightness, which was whiter than anything I had ever seen before. But it was not a blinding light, because I could see into it.
It was as though the Figure came out of the light, and did not have a definite outline that could be drawn. The shape was obviously not the Figure of a young person. So there I was, still screaming and yelling at the situation that I was in. I was very afraid. I believed the Figure before me was God and that I was going to die. In fact, at the back of my mind I knew that I was already dead.
At this point in my life I was not a Christian, but looking back I believe that had I been a Christian I would have gone to be with the Lord. So there I was, unable to take my eyes off this Figure, Who was strangely beautiful, and Who started to have a calming effect on me.
Then, I started to have glimpses again of my body in the hospital again – I went from seeing myself in hospital to going back into the blackness three or four times. Then suddenly I was back in my body again. This time I remember looking up at the ceiling and having a great feeling of relief and release. I now felt calm. I started to tell the nurse that I had seen a King. That was the best way I could describe what I had seen. ‘Well, you must have seen something’, she said with feeling, ‘look at my arms!’ I could actually see a handprint on her arm where I had gripped her. Although no one doubted that I had seen something, no one seemed particularly interested.
I now felt totally relaxed. I had been resuscitated with electrodes, and my chest was black. I did not have any pain when I initially returned to consciousness, but I did when the bruising started to come out. It seemed to me that my heart had stopped for about twenty minutes, but I am told that it could not have been more than three, or my brain would have been damaged.
I now had so many questions buzzing in my mind. Why had I seen the Figure, and what was I supposed to think about it all? I told my mother and my girlfriend, but when they took a light-hearted attitude towards it, I thought it best not to mention it again.
On the very last day of my rehabilitation classes I met a Christian called Howard. Over a period of time I was able to tell him what I had experienced, and he said that he felt sure that I had met with God. A few weeks later he invited me to go to a meeting where the New Zealander Ian McCormack was speaking, and it was through his ministry that I finally became a Christian.
After I had committed my life to the Lord, I felt I had to see my mother and tell her what had happened. When she heard what I had to say she went upstairs, but reappeared after a few minutes with a Bible in her hand. ‘I’ve been saving this for you since my mother died’ she said. It was then that I discovered that my grandmother was a Christian, and had no doubt often prayed for my salvation during her lifetime. I know that God brought me back from the dead, and now all I want to do is to live for Him.
The true story of Wayne Shaw included, with kind permission, in the free e-book BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER which includes 27 similar true stories, and may be freely read and downloaded from this web site.