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Heart attack leads preacher into battle against devil

MINCO, Okla. (BP)–Many near-death experiences have
been documented in which a dying person is drawn toward a
light. That light supposedly is heaven. Few, however, have
admitted being drawn toward hell. Eddie Critchfield was.
Critchfield, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church near
Minco, Okla., had a heart attack July 25 at his daughter’s
home. She gave him CPR; the Minco First Responders aided
him; an ambulance team used a paddle reviver on him; he was
taken to a hospital where he was again revived and finally
transferred to Integris Medical Center in Oklahoma City
where doctors said he would probably die or be brain
But two days later, he awoke from a coma and remained
in the intensive care unit until he received a heart
transplant on Oct. 14.
In the first days in the hospital after he awoke, he
could only communicate through writing because he was on a
ventilator. The first note he wrote said, “Hell is real,
don’t come here.”
“That really scared my family,” Critchfield laughed.
The second note was also confusing. It read, “I have
wrestled the devil for the soul of my buddy and won.”
Critchfield explained he saw something that looked like
the Grand Canyon burning with fire and brimstone.
“There was a fence, and the devil was on the other
side,” Critchfield recounted. “When he said he had the soul
of my buddy, I jumped the fence and began to wrestle with
the devil.”
He said he finally whipped the devil, who said “OK”
about 10 times, then added, “You can have him.”
“The image was very real to me,” Critchfield said. “Two
weeks after I got home from the hospital, I told the story
at my church, and the man I’d been praying for for 20 years
came forward during the invitation and said, ‘I don’t know
what to do, but I want to come to Jesus.'”
Critchfield said his friend didn’t know he was the
subject of Critchfield’s story.
The 61-year-old pastor said he had lived the last six
years knowing he had an enlarged heart.
“I had bypass surgery in 1985, and doctors said I
wasn’t a candidate for another bypass,” he said. “I had
never thought about a transplant.”
However, a transplant was the only option open to him,
he said. After more than 10 weeks in the hospital a matching
donor was found in a 31-year-old Tulsa-area woman who died
in childbirth.
“I am grateful for all the people who prayed for me
during the ordeal,” Critchfield said. “I had great Christian
doctors and people around me who cared.”
Critchfield said his doctor, David Nelson, a member of
Henderson Hills Baptist Church, Edmond, always prays with
“That makes you feel real good,” he said.
Critchfield added he is touched and moved by all that’s
been invested in him in a new heart.
“I’m not worthy, but I’m also not worthy of what Jesus
did for me.”

    About the Author

  • Dana Williamson