Ian McCormack

The Story Of Ian McCormack, New Zealand

Ian McCormack

My whole life was centred around sport and travel. At 26 years of age I had just completed two years travelling around the world, having previously taken a Agricultural Commerce Degree in Farm Management & Valuation & I had done Agr. Sci. 4 Dairy Science where I did my veterinary papers at Lincoln university in New Zealand. I was living, for anyone who loved surfing and scuba diving, in what was an Earthly Paradise – Mauritius.

I used to go surfing and fishing with the local Creole divers, and got hooked on night diving. Being used to colder climates than the locals, I only wore a thin 1mm short-sleeved wet suit, whereas the locals would wear the full 3-4 mm suits and were totally encased from head to foot. Days before I was due to leave the island to go back to New Zealand for my brother’s wedding, I went out night diving with the local Creoles. I was a bit uneasy about going because I could see an electric storm on the horizon. However I let myself be persuaded.

As I dived that night, the beam of my torch light picked out a jellyfish right in front of me. I was fascinated because this was not the usual shape but ‘box-shaped’. Little did I realise as I squeezed it through my leather-gloved hand, that this box shaped jellyfish, was potentially the second deadliest creature known to man. The Creole fishermen called it “ Invisible “. The Creole fishermen told me that one would kill me & that I needed to get to Quatre Bonne Hospital immediately. I knew I needed hospitalisation and quickly! Having then been stung a fifth time, the young 12 – 14 year old Creole Boat boy rowed me back to shore. Simon the adult night diver told me to urinate on my forearm to help nullify the poison. I peeled off my wet suit as it was constricting my breathing & got changed into my clothes. At the beach I collapsed & the young boy dragged me up to the main road & panicked as he thought his older brother who we had left on the reef would be killed by these deadly jellyfish.


I tried to get him to call & ambulance or a police man but sadly he ran back to the boat & began to row back out to the outer reef. Lying on my back and feeling the poison taking its effect, I heard a quiet voice saying, ‘Son, if you close your eyes you will never wake again’. I had no idea who had said it but, being a qualified lifeguard and had instructed people in a South African Hotel in scuba, I knew that unless I got anti-toxin quickly, I would die. Suddenly, I experienced what felt like a huge electric shock in my forearm, like thousands of volts of electricity. Fortunately I had put some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly on my forearms & face that night which must have provided some protection & helped prevent the tentacles from sticking to my skin. Before I could get out onto the reef another three box shaped jellyfish had stung me. My forearm was swollen like a balloon. Where the tentacles had stung were burn-like blisters across my arm, and I felt on fire as the poison began moving round my body. It hit my lymph gland, as if I had been punched, and my breathing quickly became constricted.

The Creole fishermen told me that one would kill me & that I needed to get to Quatre Bonne Hospital immediately. I knew I needed hospitalisation and quickly! Having then been stung a fifth time, the young 12 – 14 year old Creole Boat boy rowed me back to shore. Simon the adult night diver told me to urinate on my forearm to help nullify the poison. I peeled off my wet suit as it was constricting my breathing & got changed into my clothes. At the beach I collapsed & the young boy dragged me up to the main road & panicked as he thought his older brother who we had left on the reef would be killed by these deadly jellyfish. I tried to get him to call & ambulance or a police man but sadly he ran back to the boat & began to row back out to the outer reef. Lying on my back and feeling the poison taking its effect, I heard a quiet voice saying, ‘Son, if you close your eyes you will never wake again’. I had no idea who had said it but, being a qualified lifeguard and had instructed people in a South African Hotel in scuba, I knew that unless I got anti-toxin quickly, I would die.

My attempts to get to hospital were fraught to say the least. I had no money, and an Indian taxi driver, whom I had begged on my knees for a lift, picked me up. He took me to the Tamarin Bay hotel and dumped me in the car park, thinking he was unlikely to get paid. The Chinese proprietor of the hotel also refused to take me in his car, thinking the marks on my arm were from overdosing on heroin. However, a security guard, who happened to be one of my drinking companions & a Creole called Daniel rang for an ambulance.

During the journey, my life flashed before me and I thought, ‘I am going to die. This is what happens before you die, your life is displayed before you’. Despite being an atheist, I wondered whether there was any life after death. Then my mother’s face came before me and said, ‘Ian, no matter how far from God you are, if you will only but cry out to God from your heart, God will hear you, and God will forgive you’.

It had been 12 years since I had spoken to my mother about God, 12 years of total denial that God existed, but yet my mother was praying for me. Later, when I returned to New Zealand, I compared notes with her. God had shown her my face and said to her, ‘Your son is nearly dead. Start now, and pray for him’. I thank God for my praying mother who had not given up on a stubborn, rebellious son. Having travelled, prior to this, through South East Asia and seen a million gods, I thought to myself, ‘Pray to God, which one?’ But, my mother’s face was still there, and she had only ever prayed to a Christian God. I remembered that my mother had taught me the Lord’s Prayer, and thought I could just about recall it.

What followed was what happens to so many people in an exam room. My mind went completely blank. But I could hear my mother saying, ‘From your heart son, pray from your heart’. ‘God, if you’re real’, came the prayer from my heart, ‘and this prayer is real, help me remember the prayer my mother taught me. If there is anything soft or good left in my heart, please help me to remember the Lord’s Prayer’. Before my eyes the words appeared, ‘Forgive us our sins’. I knew this meant I had to ask God to forgive all the sins I had ever committed, but I told God that I felt like a hypocrite, praying on my deathbed. But if He could possibly forgive me, then I was sincere in crying out to Him to forgive my sins. It seemed as though God had heard, for another part of the prayer came up, ‘Forgive those who have sinned against you’. It seemed easier to forgive those people who had used me, back-stabbed me or ripped me off, as I had never been vindictive or aggressive. But as I told that to God the face of the Indian taxi driver who had pushed me out of his cab that night appeared, about a foot away from my face. ‘Can you forgive him for leaving you for dead?’ the voice asked. I could not believe it. I most certainly was not planning on that! I might have been planning something, but certainly not to forgive him! Before I could think any more about him, up came the face of the Chinese hotel owner who would not take me either, and the voice asked if I would forgive him. What! I realised this was not some head- trip, this was where the rubber meets the road. I had wanted something real, well now I had got it, and the faces of those men would not go away unless I forgave them. I also realised that they were only the last two, what about all the others before them? Knowing it was for real, I promised God that, if He would forgive my sins, then I would forgive these men, and would never lay a hand upon them. As I forgave them, their faces disappeared.

‘Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven’. I thought, ‘Your will? God’s will?’ I had been doing my own thing for 26 years! I promised God, however, that if I came through this experience alive, I would find out what was His will for me, and follow Him all the days of my life. As I prayed that prayer, I knew I had made peace with God.{Romans 10 : 8 – 10} Almost immediately the ambulance doors opened, I was lifted into a wheelchair and raced into the hospital.

Doctors and nurses rushed in. My blood pressure was taken twice & the nurse could find no pulse. My veins had collapsed. The doctors gave me injections of anti-toxin and dextrose in an attempt to save my life.

I was conscious of the fact that if I drifted out of my body that would be it – death. I knew this was no weird trip or hallucination, this was real. I had no intention of leaving my body and dying. I intended to stay awake all night if necessary, and fight the poison in my system.

Feeling myself being lifted onto a recovery bed I was aware that I could not feel my arms at all, and I could no longer keep my eyes open. I could not tilt my head, and my eyes were filling up with perspiration so that I could hardly see. I remember closing my eyes and breathing a sigh of relief. At that point, from what I can ascertain from the hospital, I died and was clinically dead 15 – 20 minutes.

The most scary thing for me was that the moment my eyes closed I was suddenly wide awake again, standing by what I thought was my bed in pitch black darkness, wondering why the doctors had turned out the lights. I decided to switch the lights on, and put my hand out to find the wall, but I could not find a wall. ‘OK’, I thought, ‘I’ll go back to my hospital bed. Maybe they’ve moved me to the general ward’. If I could get back to my bed, I could turn the lamp on. But I could not find my bed. Groping round to find my bed I thought I’d better just stand still for a moment, but it was so dark I could not even see my hand in front of my face. If I lifted my right hand up to my face it seemed either to miss it, or go straight through. ‘You can’t miss your head’, I thought to myself, so I put both hands up to my face and they seemed to pass straight through. That was the strangest feeling. What followed was even worse, because I realised I could not touch any part of my physical form. Yet I had the sensation of being a complete human being with all my faculties, only I did not have a fleshly form. I realise now, I was in fact outside of my body, because when a man dies his spirit leaves his body.


My next thought was, ‘Where on Earth am I?’, because I could feel the most intense evil pervading the darkness all around me. It was as if the darkness took on a spiritual dimension. {Acts 26: 18} & {Job 38: 17 & 19} There was a totally evil spiritual presence there which started to move towards me. Although I still could not see, I sensed something looking at me out of the darkness. Then to my right came a voice that yelled, ‘Shut up!’ As I backed off from the voice another one from the left shouted, ‘You deserve to be here!’ {Ps 31: 17} & {Ps 115: 17} My arms came up to protect myself and I asked, ‘Where am I?’ A third voice replied, ‘You’re in Hell, now shut up.’ Some people think Hell is just a big party, but I tell you its going to be pretty hard to grab your beer down there, pretty hard to find your face!

I stood there in that blackness long enough to put the fear of God into me for eternity. You might ask why God took me down there, but He told me later that if I had not prayed that death-bed prayer in the ambulance, I would have stayed in Hell. Thank God for His grace that hears a sinner’s prayer in the last seconds of his life. ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and deep darkness, yet shall I fear no evil, for You are with me’. (Psalm 23:4) I had made God my Lord and Shepherd just before I died, and He led me through that valley of death.

Intense Light

But at the moment of deepest blackness a brilliant light shone {John 1: 5} upon me and drew me straight out.{Col 1: 13} It was not like walking, but being translated up in a supernatural way. As I was drawn up into the light it seemed to touch my face and encase my entire body, as if it had pierced into the deepest darkness and pulled me out. Looking back I was able to see the darkness fading either side, and could feel the power and presence of this light drawing me up into a circular opening far above me, like a speck of dust caught up in a brilliant beam of sunlight. Almost immediately, I entered the opening and, looking down the tunnel, {Matt 7: 13 – 14} I could see the source of the light. The radiance, the power and purity that was flowing from it was awesome. As I looked, a wave of thicker, intense light broke away from the source, and came down the tunnel at incredible speed as if to greet me. A wave of warmth and comfort literally went through my entire being, and I felt the most incredible, comforting feeling I have ever experienced. About half way down the tunnel another wave of light broke off and came towards me. When it touched me I felt the most wonderful peace go right through me, in exactly the same way as before. This was total peace. In my past I had sought for peace in education, in sport, in travel, in almost every avenue possible, yet it had eluded me. This, however, was a living peace that seemed to remain as this light left its deposit within me. {Gal 5: 22 – 25}

Previously, in the darkness, I could see nothing. But now, in the light, to my amazement, I saw my hand was like a spirit form, full of white radiant light, the same light that was coming from the end of the tunnel.{1 Cor 15: 50} I wanted to go, and as I began to move another wave of light came, pure joy and excitement enveloped me. As we would call it in New Zealand, ‘amped up to the max’. What I saw next ‘blew my mind’. It looked like a white fire, or a mountain of cut diamonds sparkling with the most indescribable brilliance. And yet, as I stopped at the end of this tunnel of light, to the left, right and above me, everywhere seemed totally filled with this iridescent light, reaching to the extremity of my vision, out into infinity. {Rev 21: 23} I wondered for a moment, if there was a person in the centre of this brilliance, or whether it was just a force of good or power in the universe. A voice came out of the light and said, ‘Ian, do you wish to return?’ I could not work it out for the moment. ‘Return where?’, I thought. But as I looked back over my shoulder, and saw the tunnel going back into darkness, and thought of the hospital bed, I realised I did not know where I was and the words came from me, ‘I wish to return’. The voice responded, ‘Ian, if you wish to return you must see in a new light’.

Live In The Light

The moment I heard those words, ‘See in a new light’, words appeared before me: ‘God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all’. (1 John 1:5) They were words on a Christmas card given to me in South Africa, but I had not known that they were taken from the New Testament. As I saw these words in front of me, I realised the light could be coming from God, and, if it was, then what was I doing here? They must have made a mistake because I did not deserve to be here. ‘If He knows my name, and He knows my thoughts as speech, I am transparent before Him. He can see everything I’ve ever done in my life. I’m getting out of here’. I started pulling back, looking for some rock to crawl under, or go back down the tunnel where I thought I belonged. But as I pulled back from His presence wave after wave of pure light started flooding upon me. The first wave that touched me caused my hands and body to tingle as I felt love go into the depths of who I was, {1 John 4: 16 – 19 } to the extent that I staggered. Then another wave came, and yet another. I thought, ‘God, You can’t love me, I’ve committed so many sins, I’ve cursed you, I’ve broken so many commandments’. The waves of love kept coming to me, and every statement I confessed was followed by another wave of love until I stood there weeping, as God’s love washed through me again, and again. I could not believe that God could love such a filthy, unclean man. {Isaiah 1: 18}Yet, as I stood in His presence, the love got stronger and stronger until I felt that if only I could step into the light and see Him, I would know who God was.

I walked closer and closer, until suddenly the light opened up and I saw the bare feet of a Man with dazzling white garments around His ankles. As I looked up, it seemed as if the light emanated from the pores of His entire face, like brilliant jewels with light and power shooting out from every facet. In total wonder at the sight of the brilliance and purity before me, I realised this person indeed must be God. His garments appeared to be made of shimmering light itself. {Rev 1: 13 – 18} I walked up closer in order to see His eyes, but as I stood in front of Him, He moved away as if He did not want that. And as He moved, I saw what looked like a brand new planet Earth opening up before me. {Rev 21: 1} This new Earth had green grass yet with the same light and radiance that was upon God. Through the fields a crystal clear river ran, with trees on either side of its banks. There were green rolling hills, mountains and blue skies over to my right, and over to my left, meadows with flowers and trees. {Rev 22: 1 – 5} It looked like a Garden of Eden, or Paradise. Every part of me was drinking this in saying, ‘I belong here. I was made for this place. I’ve travelled the world looking for this place’. I wanted to enter in and explore, but as I stepped forward to do so, God stepped in front of me and asked me this question: ‘Ian, now that you have seen, do you wish to step in, or return?’

Imagine, if you had just got there, as it were by the skin of your teeth, through a deathbed prayer. Imagine that you knew that, just behind God, was a place where there would be no more sickness, no more death, no more suffering, no more pain, no more wars, and where there was life for eternity, what would you do?

Believe me, I had no plans to come back to this Earth. I was going to say good-bye to this cruel world and step right in. But that instant I looked back over my shoulder. I saw a clear vision of my mother looking at me. She had prayed for me every day of my life, and had tried to show me the way of God. I realised that if I went into Heaven right then she would think I had gone to Hell, because she would not know of my repentance in that ambulance, and giving my life to God. I said, ‘God, I can’t step in, I can’t be selfish, I must go back and tell my mother that what she believes in is real’.

Looking back I saw all my family and thousands upon thousands of people stretching far back into the distance. I asked God who they were, and He said that, if I did not return, many of those people I could see would most likely never get the chance to hear about Him. My response was that I did not love them, but as I expressed that feeling God said, ‘But I do, and I want them to come to know Me’. {2 Peter 3: 10 – 18}

How was I to get back? God told me to tilt my head, feel liquid running from my eye, and then open it and see. I found myself with my right eye open, and there was a doctor at the end of the bed with a sharp instrument prodding my foot. As he turned and saw me, the blood drained from his face, and you could see him thinking, ‘A corpse has just opened its eye’.

Still trying to grasp what I had seen, I heard the voice of God whisper, ‘Son, I’ve just given you your life back’. My response to God was that, if that was true, could He please give me strength to turn my head and look through my other eye. As God gave me strength to open my left eye, I saw, in the doorway of the room, nurses and orderlies. They just stood in the doorway and stared, open-mouthed. I had been dead, for 15 – 20 minutes, but now I was very much alive!

I tried to move my neck. I thought that if I had been dead that long, I could be a quadriplegic for the rest of my life. So I asked God to heal me completely, and allow me to walk out of the hospital, otherwise to take me back into Heaven. Over the next four hours I felt warmth and power flow through my body, and the next day I walked out of the hospital, completely healed. I believe in healing. I believe in resurrection power. I believe Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross, rose from the dead, and is the Resurrection and the Life.

What was I to do next? There was no one to ask except God, and He told me I was a re-born Christian, {John 3: 3} and to read His word, the Bible. Over the next six weeks I read from Genesis to Revelation. As I read through the Scriptures, everything that I had seen in Heaven was described in that book. In Revelation chapter one we read of Jesus, clothed in garments of white, His face shining like the sun, with seven stars in His hand. The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. In Revelation chapter 22 I read of the River of Life, with trees either side of it bearing fruit. The same chapter said that those who drank of it never thirsted again. I read that the light of God’s presence keeps the new Heaven and the new Earth full of light, without the need of the sun or moon or lamp, because His radiance and presence would fill the universe. I realised in John 8:12, Jesus said He was the Light of the World, and those who came to Him would no longer walk in darkness but have the Light of life. As I continued to read through the gospels and the epistles, I read about being born again in John 3:3, having the certainty of sins forgiven, and of being able to call on the Name of the Lord. And I knew that Jesus Christ was alive.

Since this experience in Mauritius, the Lord has led me into full-time Christian ministry. After spending time back on the dairy farm in New Zealand with my sister and husband, where God enabled me to get my life sorted out, I then spent six months in my local church in Hamilton. In mid-1983 I joined Youth With A Mission, and for six months sailed with them through the Pacific Ocean, taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to that area. I then felt the Lord speak to me out of Revelation 7:9, to go back into South East Asia, and minister to the non-evangelised tribal people of Malaysia. For three years I worked in the jungles of Sarawak, and the mainland peninsula. During this time I met my wife to be, Jane, who was on a short-term missionary trip from her home church in Canada.

Before returning to New Zealand in 1988, I worked on the pastoral staff of a church in Singapore. Jane and I were married in Canada later that year, and I believe the Lord told me to take a year off from ministry and devote this time to my wife, according to Deuteronomy 24:5. We then worked full-time in a church in Canada. Having worked again in my local church for three years, the Lord impressed on me His will for me to take my salvation experience to the nations for a period of three and a half years (March 1993 to September 1996). This we have done, and now hope to settle in New Zealand, serve the Lord, and raise a family. We are just amazed at the blessings of God in our lives. Our hearts’ desire is to continue to share His Unconditional Love and mercy to everyone which whom we come in contact.

Ian McCormack And Family

Ian McCormack has been following Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour ever since this experience in 1982. Ian is an ordained minister with the Assembly of God church in New Zealand. He has worked with the head-hunters of Borneo, and in refugee camps in South East Asia. He has been a pastor to churches and has travelled, with his family, to 24 different nations sharing this testimony.

Ian McCormack’s story is featured in the movie, The Lazarus Phenomenon which may be freely viewed and downloaded on this web site.

Ian McCormack is a personal friend of Dr Richard Kent, the co-author of this book, and his speaking engagements are highly recommended. Ian speaks all over the world.

To contact Ian for speaking engagements please e-mail him at: [email protected] Ian’s web site is: www.aglimpseofeternity.org

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