‘Welcome Home’: Near-Death Experience Rekindles Atheist’s Faith

‘Welcome Home’: Near-Death Experience Rekindles Atheist’s Faith
Maria Han
Nancy Rynes lived a life of material science in which God did not exist because she didn’t see proof of His existence. She feared death—until a near-death experience enveloped her in love and changed her forever.
“About two and a half years ago, I was an atheist,” said Nancy Rynes in a video recorded at the 2016 International Association for Near-Death Studies conference.
She was raised Catholic but in her teenage years, she turned from that faith for various reasons. “As I went into my university years, I studied the sciences—geology and archaeology, which are both very physical sciences. So I realized that if I couldn’t see it, if I couldn’t measure it, and if I couldn’t knock on it, it didn’t really exist. And so for me, God didn’t exist,” said Rynes.

A Horrible Accident

On a January morning in Colorado, Rynes was out biking when she was hit by the driver who was texting and driving. She was dragged a considerable distance by the SUV.

“I noticed I have full memory of every millisecond of that crash,” she said.

Rynes described her first near-death experience: “Partway through that crash, I noticed that my consciousness separated from my body ... My higher self or my soul took off from my body and witnessed the whole accident happening from out in front. But the interesting thing is that I was still conscious in my human body.”

The accident left Rynes with serious spine injuries, a concussion, broken ribs, a cracked sternum, and a broken collarbone, but fortunately no injuries to her internal organs.

“I don’t even know that the doctors could count the number of broken bones,” she said.

To give Rynes the ability to walk again, the doctors had to perform surgery on her spine. During the surgery, her body reacted strangely to the anesthesia. Her heart stopped, her breathing stopped, and her blood pressure dropped to zero.

“I found this out later from my doctors. They didn’t ‘fess up at the time,” said Rynes. 

A ‘Beautiful Meadow’

“I was expecting to go off to that gray place of nothingness that we all go to when we have surgery. You may wake up in the recovery room and everything’s fine. Except I woke up in this beautiful meadow surrounded by mountains and these beautiful clouds in the sky and a warm, kind of silvery warm light all around me,” Rynes said.

“My first thought was, ‘How come I’m here? I don’t believe in you.’ I don’t believe that this could be for me because I’m an atheist. And the answer I got back was, ‘You’re my child. Welcome home.’”

As someone who had given up her faith in God, to receive that kind of boundless love was almost unbelievable. It’s difficult for humans to accept betrayal, Rynes said, but this divine presence welcomed her back with open arms.

“The fact that the divine presence could accept me back in without hesitation with such love and compassion was astounding to me.”

She felt she had been welcomed home and she realized that everything she had believed as an adult was wrong.

After several moments alone, a female entity, exuding compassion, approached her. Rynes understood that this entity was to be her guide for the rest of the journey.

“She welcomed me home. And I had the impression that I knew her from a long time ago. And it was so moving that I probably spent the first 10, 20 minutes with her crying and sobbing. I couldn’t believe that I was here. I thought, as a Catholic girl, I'd end up in hell for being an atheist and here I was in this beautiful, loving, peaceful place,” said Rynes.

The female entity took her on a tour that felt like it was months long. They visited many beautiful places. They visited a pond where Rynes reviewed most of her life. As they visited different locations, the being taught Rynes different things.

“She told me, ‘I want you to understand how to bring all this back to your life on earth.’ Because the point of all this was for me to bring heaven into my own life and into the lives of the people around me and to anybody else that wanted to listen.”

Rynes responded that there was no way she was going back.

“I threw a temper tantrum when she was going to send me back,” she recalled.

The being responded that Rynes had to go back but before she did, she would be healed.

“So she laid her hands on different parts of my spirit body and I didn’t really feel anything except her touch. But later during my recovery, I had no pain in those areas. I had no pain in my collarbone. And I’m told that those hurt a lot when they broke. I never had any pain in my rib cage either and I had five broken ribs.  I had a crack, up here in my pelvis. I never had any pain there,” she said.

Accepting a New Reality

For the first few months after returning to her body, she simply basked in the rays of the love she felt.

“I was in this blissed-out state. Everything was great. I loved everybody. I loved all the nurses that came in. I would just be grateful for being here and I could just feel divine love all through the hospital. I just laid there and bathed in it,” Rynes recalled.

Another change she noticed was that she had no fear of death anymore.

Her meeting with the divine beings had changed her to a point of no return. She quit her job working for a defense contractor. She couldn’t continue making weapons, she said.

She remembered that in her meeting with the divine being, she was told to bring heaven back to her own life, as well as to anyone who would listen.

Letting Go and Embracing Love

After her near-death experiences, Rynes said, she could still speak with the divine being she met, who Rynes refers to as her guide. Her guide told her, “See love, feel love, be love.”

Rynes began a habit of looking for kindness and feeding that kindness so that it spread further.

She realized that through small steps like this, she learned to relinquish the control of her life that she had so desperately held onto before.

“It was finally saying ‘You know what, God, I think you’re smarter than I am. And I’m just gonna let you take over and guide my life.’”

Nancy has taken her mission seriously. She is the author of “Awakenings from the Light: 12 Life Lessons from a Near Death Experience.” The Colorado artist and writer is a popular speaker, she has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and the Netflix series “Surviving Death.”

Maria Han is an arts and beyond science writer.
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