In a vision, Jesus took me to Hell. It was like a terrible, life-changing accident.
You know how when an accident happens, you keep replaying over in your mind what you could have done differently? I have replayed August 28th over and over at least 1,000 times, if not more. “Oh God, what did I do wrong? Why did this happen to me?”
Because I have looked at this “accident” so much, I know many little details that have been etched into my memory. Many of them are unimportant, but I have memorized them nonetheless. I have looked for every little decision or detail that resulted in the worst day of my entire life—and possibly the most life-giving day for myself.It is important to note that what I share here all happened instantly. It wasn’t an orderly progression, but I’ve tried to lay it out in an orderly fashion here.
How it Began
I worked for the evangelism department at the International House of Prayer, now called the Kansas City Evangelists’ Fellowship (KCEF). That morning we were in our weekly two-hour evangelism meeting.
As the meeting began with worship, I was standing at the back of the room. Before I can enter into worship in a heart-connect way, let alone in spirit and truth (see John 4:24), I have to tell my body, You will worship God. So that day I raised my hands to God and I sung loudly to Him. I engaged my mind to worship Jesus by contemplating the beauty of His love and the magnificence of His dying on the Cross for me. I let my emotions worship Him, which allows my heart to open to Him.The worship leader was helping us pray for our lost family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. To really get a sustained heart for lost people, I have found I have to make it personal. I have to truly think about what it would be like for my lost family members to not make it to Heaven. When we think about someone we love not being in Heaven, it creates a real sadness and if we think about it long enough, it creates a desperation. These thoughts allow us to identify with a real emotion for the people we love. Because it’s such a negative emotion to experience, most people don’t go there. Evangelists are willing to expose their hearts to let God’s truth and urgency shape us. We don’t like the down emotion either, but by allowing it we become more tenderized to the eternal truth for lost souls. Then, sharing about Jesus becomes essential and very personal.
As we sang an evangelistic song, I felt the presence of holiness come into the room. The song gripped me and just seemed to add to the excitement I already felt. The music was captivating and took me to what I will call a worship place. The feeling in the room was the same as other times that I had been invited to come away with the Lord to visit Heaven. I knew I was being invited to go in the spirit. The holiness had come for me. I said, “Yes.”
Transported to Hell
Worship and prayer continued around me. The people were oblivious that Hell was at the front of the room. I watched those ominous gates open as I watched the people worshiping. The two places, the meeting room and Hell were together.
I frantically looked to see who might help me. The others didn’t see the gates, hear that sound, or feel the heat. Instinctively, I started screaming. I felt the sound of fear coming from my own body. I knew that my spirit was being demanded to submit. As I screamed, my spirit was also making a sound that deeply hurt my heart and brain while it also panicked every blood cell in my body.
Something came flying past the gates of Hell. It was coming for me. It was like an arm without fingers that grabbed me and sucked me into Hell. The arm was very powerful. It was attached to me like a suction cup in the area of my chest and began dragging me further into Hell. As quickly as it shot out from Hell, it just as quickly moved back. I tried to pull back and break the hold it had on me but it was too powerful. Before I could blink, I knew this—it was too late. The gates slammed shut with a terrible sound of finality. I knew there was no man on this side or that who could ever open those gates. Only Jesus could because He owns Hell.
Inside the Gates
I passed through gates that trapped the darkness inside. The first thing I knew when I got there: I was in Hell. The realization that I was in Hell was unquestionably shocking and beyond hurtful! I don’t know how to explain just how panicked I was, although you may understand a bit if you’ve ever been lost.
It was like that but more dire. I was like a child and I had no plan. I panicked like no other panic I have ever experienced in my entire life. In fact, I knew that if I could add up every panic I have ever felt, it didn’t come close to what I was experiencing.
Someone said to me, “Laurie, you are in Hell!”
“Oh my God!” I answered.
I knew many things all at once. As I break them down to explain each one individually, it gives the false appearance that it was a slow progressive onslaught. But everything was immediate. For the sake of explanation, I knew three things first—I was in Hell, eternally, for unforgiveness.
Once the understanding of the judgment arrived in my heart there were four distinct pains:
Water—Immediately, all the water left my body, creating a desperate, painful need.
Bone marrow—In an instant my bones turned black.
Breath—The first breath allowed fire to touch everything in me and be carried throughout my body.
Agreement—Agreeing with the judgement that Hell is where I belonged removed my humanity.
Before that day, I had not studied much about Hell. I believed it was real because I believe the whole Bible is true, but I didn’t think that anybody like me would ever go there. I also knew about the Bible’s stance on unforgiveness. Although I knew, it was just easier to hold on to unforgiveness. I mean, with time, unforgiveness had become part of me. I would never have thought unforgiveness could take a person to Hell. My view was swiftly changed.
A Relational Problem
In Hell, I knew and understood the Bible perfectly. Every word of God that I had ever read was now completely clear. And I knew exactly how much I had disobeyed in comparison to my biblical understanding. I was keenly aware of everything about myself and my body. Stuff like my blood moving, my eyes seeing, and how all parts of my body work. I have never been in such awe of the creation of a human body. Everything I learned in eighth grade science I recalled perfectly. But even more, a supernatural knowledge filled in the blanks that I did not already know.
My knowledge about Hell, from the Scriptures, was also at the front of my awareness. I knew that everything I had read was true. All heartbreakingly true. I knew all of the scriptures on Hell, how much information was provided to me in the Bible about it, and how those scriptures fit with the rest of the Bible. I was fully awakened to the terrible reality of this place. The panic of knowing that I was in Hell grew. I was not a visitor.
I understood that Hell is a relational issue, not a problem to solve like a math question. A person cannot get out of Hell if they acquire the right answer. Hell was created because of a relational issue. One of the most important things I knew is that Hell wasn’t created because of human sin and we don’t go to Hell because of one particular sin. We all have sinned (see Rom. 3:23). This isn’t just a sin issue. It is a relational issue. Because of the Devil and his disobedience, disrespect, and disregard of God, Hell was created.
We think someone goes to Hell because they sinned, but really it is about disobeying and disrespecting God. The Bible says, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way” (Ps. 2:12). That kiss is about love, affection, and obedience. We think that because people mess up, God sends them to Hell. But that is not true. How can we think God is bad? People go to Hell because they refuse to be in a relationship with God. Hell is about a refusal to love God and have a relationship with Him.
Although God literally forgave me everything, I chose to refuse to forgive certain ones. I was like the unmerciful servant in one of Jesus’ parables (see Matt. 18:21-35). When the servant refused to forgive the debt and stood before the king again, he was called wicked. It wasn’t because he simply made a mistake; it was because he wouldn’t enter into the relationship of mercy and grace and obedience to the King. It wasn’t only about what a person does; it is all about who they are in their heart.
We start out loving God because He loves us, but then we love Him because of everything we know about Him as we go deeper and deeper into relationship. Marriages don’t end because someone cheated. The end starts way before that cheating when the couple won’t be in relationship with one another. So how much more is that true about Jesus? There is mercy when we mess up. But we reject His mercy when we defiantly harden our hearts (see Heb. 4:7). The Bible teaches that God longs to be gracious to us (see Isa. 30:18 AMP). In the same way that it takes a repentant heart to receive salvation, it takes a repentant heart to receive mercy. Hell is where those who refuse God will find themselves.
In Hell I already knew the complete truth from God’s perspective. The ways of God are righteous, always righteous! Even though I wished it were not so, I knew that it was. The judgment of God is true. Everyone knows that truth there. The judgment of me being in Hell eternally for not forgiving people on the earth was completely righteous. In my own knowledge, being in Hell was completely righteous. I can’t tell you what that did to me then, or the soberness that it puts in me even today. It’s not like on the earth where innocent people have gone to jail for something they didn’t do. That never happens in Hell. Everyone in Hell is there because they are guilty. Because they would not love and obey God.
As I faced the reality of my judgment, I was in overload. I was inundated with an ever-increasing fear and knowledge that Hell is not only everything that I had read in the Bible but so much worse. But there is no overload shut-down mechanism in Hell. No shutting off, no taking a break, no passing out, and no quitting. The horribleness and pain in Hell accelerated and continued to get worse. I was literally experiencing inside my body the truth I had read in the Bible.
I experienced many other horrors during this vision, which I talk about further in my book The Hell Conspiracy. For the sake of brevity, I’ll cut it short…
Back to the Visible Realm
At the end of the vision, I reentered the earthly realm yelling. The worship was still going on, but I took center stage from the back of the room with my screaming.
I had no idea how much trouble I was in or that I would be forever changed. I had no grid for the loss or the gain that would surround my life from that day forward. Today, I still have an eerie weightiness whenever I share about Hell. It is a very important topic that everyone should take seriously.
It was the mercy of Jesus that He sent me to Hell and His mercy that He took me out of there. It was His kindness. It was His gentleness. It was just like when He saved me. But I didn’t know that. I didn’t know the day Jesus saved me that He saved me from all of Hell’s torments. I didn’t know when I celebrated freedom that He saved me from the bondage to sin and Hell’s eternal punishments. It hurts to tell you this. It hurts to tell you about the punishment that was mine. It was Jesus’ mercy and love that picked me up and brought me back from Hell. If I had died in that vision, I would still be there. The fact is that there are many people in Hell. Too many people! We can’t do anything about that. But how many of our family are going there? You know what? Most of us really don’t care. The Bible says Hell is getting bigger to hold all the people who are coming (see Isa. 5:14; Deut. 32:22). We should be doing something about it.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8 NIV).Keep yourselves in the love of God looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh (Jude 1:21-23).
To read the full story of Laurie Ditto’s encounter, get the book.