Heaven is for Real: Colton Burpo's Story

I recently finished the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo.  This book is only about 150 pages, so it is a relatively quick read.  But I have to be honest - it was quite engaging.  In the pages of this book Todd lays out the true story of his son Colton's trip to Heaven.  When Colton was close to 4 years old, he suffered from a mis-diagnosed appendicitis.  5 days later, by the time the Burpos took Colton to a hospital to find out that his appendix had ruptured, it was almost too late.  In fact at one point the author relates that the nurses in the hospital were instructed not to give the Burpo family any encouragement, because Colton would most likely be dead from organ poisoning in a matter of days. 

Can you imagine this?  One day your 4-year-old is healthy and active.  The next day he is on death's doorstep.  Unfortunately many people can imagine this and have experienced something similar.  In this case, however, things took a turn for the better.  After the Burpos invited around 80 people to gather and pray for recovery, Colton rebounded quickly.  Todd writes that those same nurses would stream constantly after he had recovered just to witness what they knew was a miracle. 

Then things get interesting.  Throughout the course of the next year, Colton begins relating details to his parents about what he had witnessed when he was close to death.  He talked about sitting in Jesus' lap.  He discussed seeing people in white robes with red and blue sashes across their chest.  Colton met Todd's father "Pop", who had died before Colton was even born.  Apparently in Heaven everyone is young and beautiful.  There are fantastic color palettes there, thousands more colors than exist on earth.  And then there was what would become Colton's catch-phrase during those post-hospital months: "Jesus loves the children."  Todd even writes of one instance where they were attending a funeral for an acquaintance, and Colton happened to see the casket.  He exclaimed, "Daddy, did that man have Jesus in his heart?  You can't get into Heaven if you don't have Jesus in your heart!"  Not your typical topics of conversation for a 4-year-old.

The Burpos have been a beacon of hope to many people, and also subject to criticism by others.  This is normal of course.  You cannot write a book about Jesus and please everyone.  But the strange thing is that some of the criticism is from other Christian groups.  One group argues that you ought not mistake the truth of Scripture for a supernatural "experience."  Now this is a strange argument really.  After all, if the Bible is true - shouldn't we see some experiential evidence?   At any rate, I applaud the Burpos' courage.  If your 4-year-old started talking about meeting Jesus, would you tell anyone?  As Todd wrote several times in the book: it was a gift from God.  The more time that passed, the more wrapping paper would come off. 

Nothing in Heaven is for Real appeared to contradict anything Biblical, at least in my eyes.  The author was careful to research everything his son was telling him, and he provides chapter and verse for Biblical verification throughout the book.  I am recommending this book.  I think it will enhance what we already think we know about Heaven.  It also makes me wonder how many of us are holding on to incredible stories about God that we may choose not to talk about in mixed company.  Do you and I have "gifts from God that need to be unwrapped?"  I have included a link below to a video detailing the Burpos' experience.  Take a look and see for yourself!




  1. I've just started reading the book myself. Many church members are fascinated by the story. Here's my dilemma. You stated that you don't see anything in the book that contradicts the Bible. I believe Don Piper has written a book about a near death experience he had and came back to talk about it. Has God changed his mind? 2 Corinthians 12 records the apostle Paul being transported into the very presence of God and not being allowed to talk about it. Why are others now able to talk about it and make money from it? I'm not certain I understand the reasoning or the logic of this phenomena. Maybe you could explain it to me. This seems to contradict the Bible. What do you think? Would God humble his apostle with a thorn in the flesh and not allow him to speak of the wonders he witnessed - then turn around and allow a minister and his family to get their family back on track financially from the proceeds of a story about heaven being real? Just curious as to your thoughts.

  2. Hello Bill. Thank you for reading, and for your research. Rather than take the normal debate approach and attempt to spin your argument and make it seem like you "just didn't understand what I was saying", I will give you proper credit here. I have read that passage many times and it hadn't really stuck with me that Paul had been given this thorn as something that would keep him from talking about his experiences in general. But rather, as something that would stop him from bragging (or boasting) about them.

    As we know, Paul was in fact talking about his experience - it is listed as part of that passage in 2 Corinthians. Now it may be that God had given him some type of revelation which was not to be mentioned to the general public in detail at that time. You and I can only speculate. After all, didn't God show many things to John of Patmos that were related to us in the book of Revelation? True some of it was "sealed up for a later time," but much of it was given to us. Jesus spoke of the kingdom of Heaven in parables. The book of Acts records miracles.

    Your next point intrigues me more. Why would God allow someone to profit from an experience like this? I must admit that I don't know what the Burpos have done with proceeds from this book, or where exactly the money is going now. Is to their church? Is it to a charity? Did they keep some of it? Sufficed to say, I think the author has done his due diligence in sharing his son's amazing experience with the rest of the world, and to the glory of God. I am still forced to ask myself - what is the fruit of this book? It seems to me the fruit has been reminding America that Jesus still exists as a living Savior today, in addition to the events that happened 2,000 years ago.

    - Jon

  3. Jon,

    Thank you for responding to my inquiry. I agree with you about the reason for Paul's thorn in the flesh. I was referring to his comment in verse 4: "...was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." You have given me much to think about in referencing Revelation (and I thought about the throne scene of Isaiah in chapter 6 as well).
    I suppose I'm like doubting Thomas. I have a hard time believing it - if I haven't seen it or experienced it for myself. I have an easier time just reading Scripture and believing God than I do with men's experiences (they seem so subjective). There have been so many charlatans peddling the Gospel throughout the centuries (even Paul talks about them in 1 Thessalonians 2) - that I tend to be leary and skeptical. Maybe I need to lighten up a bit about the whole thing. Maybe their experience was real and genuine.
    I'm like the father of the demon-possessed son who said: "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Thank you for making me think. And, thank you for being one of those tender and gentle souls who sees the good in others. Many blessings to you, your family and your ministry.

  4. i am young i am really ispierd by this wonderful book...

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  6. I had read the book just now, and was astonished! I know you all knew that today people would always say "To see is to believe." and that most always say that faith should shows great miracles in our lives. That book will be one of those great books that remind us that GOD do exists. I don't really mind where the money is or who is enjoying it right now. I'm just so happy and blessed because of God's grace and mercy for all of us. We are living in a new generation and Satan offers things that could easily deceive each one of us. My point here is, if Satan can do things such those, of course our God can do more great things! I'm not saying that what happen to that kiddo was good, but I must say that meeting Jesus with your own eyes was the best ever gift you could ever have in your whole life!- That kiddo was used as an instrument and as a living proof that heaven, Jesus, and hell exist.

  7. Thank you Hannah and Lake for your comments. I would agree, this book is helping to point people to Jesus. From any religious or spiritual document, what more could we really ask for?

    I wonder about all the experiences out there from other people who have been touched by God. I hope more of these types of books are on the way.


  8. Shameful! I don't even know where to start! How dare you do this in the name of God? The truth will come out sooner or later. Everything this kid said was fed to him by this evil dad of his. It's one thing to love God and want to bring people to him, but to fabricate things and put it in a child mind is something else. Shameful!

    1. Hello there,

      I was wondering what evidence or updates you may have come across that would direct you to think it was all fake. I know this book is being released as a feature film soon, so maybe more information has come to light. As of now, I'm still of the mindset that this young man had an insightful encounter with Jesus!



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