Ben Breedlove inspired millions when he created unique videos that detailed his near-death experiences and what he said were heavenly encounters he had during life-threatening cardiac arrests and seizures. The 18-year-old suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that inevitably claimed his life on Christmas Day 2011.
In particular, there were two videos that commanded a great deal of attention. Both clips were posted just days before the teen’s untimely death. Their contents were so stirring, in fact, that Glenn Beck once collectively called them “one of the most powerful God messages that I’ve ever seen.”
Now, nearly two years later, the teen’s harrowing life story has been documented in, “When Will the Heaven Begin?: This Is Ben Breedlove’s Story,” a book written by his 21-year-old sister, Ally.
This week, we had the chance to talk with Ally about Ben and her personal motivation for sharing his touching story with the world.
Before hypertrophic cardiomyopathy claimed his life, Ally said that her brother had four severe health crises during which he nearly died; three of these were cardiac arrests and one was a severe seizure. The first of these experiences occurred when Ben was a small child.
“When he was four, he had a life threatening seizure that he almost didn’t make it out of,” Ally explained. “After he was revived he was on a stretcher and he said, ‘Mom look at that bright light’ and my mom said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.'”
And that’s when the heavenly experiences began.
The light was apparently only visible to Ben and he later told his family that he saw it throughout the aftermath of the traumatic experience. Following the incident, Ben said he didn’t remember feeling scared during the seizure; he also didn’t recall any of the details surrounding the health crisis — only the bright light that sustained him throughout.
“It gave him this deep sense of peace that he couldn’t explain,” Ally said of that light. “He described it as being the center of his attention.”
While Ben did relay these details to his family when he was a child, he did not speak openly about them again until penning a college essay when he was 18. It was in that text that his parents and siblings learned more details about a key moment in his life.
This wasn’t his only experience with angels and the Almighty, though.
During his senior year of high school, Ben’s heart stopped for three minutes. It was during this time that he recounted ascending to a heaven-like realm.
“During the cardiac arrest he said that he awoke in a white room that had no walls and went on forever — and he felt that same peaceful feeling,” Ally told TheBlaze. “He said he felt more confidant than he had ever felt in his entire life. Somehow he knew he was ready for something more important.”
It was this moment that Ally claims her brother truly believed he was going to heaven.
The details of this particular experience were, again, relayed to Ben’s family and were also included in his viral videos. As TheBlaze reported last year, Ben described himself in a beautiful room and standing in front of a full-length mirror next to his favorite rap artist Kid Cudi.
Here’s how he described the experience in his viral videos:
“I was wearing a really nice suit and, so was my fav rapper, Kid Cudi. […]
I then looked at myself in the mirror, I was proud of MYSELF, of my entire life, everything I have done. It was the BEST feeling. […]
I didn’t want to leave that place. I wish I NEVER woke up.”
After relaying this experience to his family and sharing it with the world, Ally told TheBlaze that the family believes the vision was God’s way of reaching out to Ben amid his many struggles.
Ben’s Intense Faith
Ally said that her brother was a Christian who was taught by their parents at an early age to “have a personal relationship with [God].” Ben accepted Christ and became a follower just once month before his first near-death experience at the age of 4 — something that she said is ironic.
Ben regularly asked God to alleviate any fear he might have as a result of his life-altering condition. As a result of his faith, Ally said her brother viewed these heaven-like experiences as an “answer to prayer.”
Eventually, he made the decision to share his faith — and these visions — with the world.
It was on Dec. 18, 2011 that Ben posted the two clips, both entitled, “This Is My Story.” He shares his life story by holding up notecards with text on them (there is no audio).
Ally said that the family did not become aware of these videos until they started going viral following his death. But she recalls having a serious conversation with Ben just days beforehand.
“Ben was really questioning, ‘Why did I come back, why am I here,'” she said. “And I told him, ‘If you came back, it’s for a reason.”
Ally said that her brother suffered another cardiac arrest the weekend after the two talked about his purpose on this earth. During that experience, his heart, again, stopped beating. He survived and it was the next day that he created the videos about his life.
Seven days later, Ben died on Christmas day.
“I wasn’t even thinking abut how many people had seen [the videos],” Ally said about her emotions when she first discovered them. “I was just shocked to see that he had made this video in such earnestness. In a way, I felt like it was such a gift.”
The first part of Ben’s story has been viewed nearly eight million times on YouTube and the second portion has more than five million views.
At the end of his clips, Ben’s cards read, “Do you believe in Angels or God? I do.”
Watch part one here:
And here’s part two:
Losing her brother, Ally said, was the hardest thing her family has ever experienced, but they feel at peace with the situation, especially considering the message that Ben left behind.
“We believe he’s now more alive than he ever has been,” she said.
The Breedlove family is hoping that “When Will the Heaven Begin?” will inspire people to live their lives more fully.
“I believe that life is a gift and Ben lived his life that way everyday, despite his suffering and the things he went through,” she said. “He chose to focus on the good in life rather than his negative circumstances. That’s a decision people can make every day.”
Read more about Ben’s story here.