It was September 1st, 2000, when Tim Ehmann, a drug-riddled, agnostic rock 'n roll musician, overdosed from shooting too many successive speedballs of heroin and crack, collapsed, and died.
But that was far from the end.
In just a few moments, Ehmann found himself transported to a place of complete darkness, pain and terror - hell. Even more shocking - he found himself surrounded by many of the old friends he had played and partied with over the years that had died from their wild ways.
"Hell is like a rock concert - the amplification of everything, of the sound of noise, of screaming, of horror - it is a place of total desolation," Ehmann told the Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "The horror just penetrates your whole being."
But suddenly, Ehmann saw a brilliant white light appear above him, and a gentle hand pulled him from the depths of hell and into a drastically different place - heaven.
"The terrifying sounds of hell faded far off into the distance, replaced by...sweet, melodic music...Peace and love like I'd never known before emanated through me like waves," Ehmann writes in his thrilling new book, "I Met God in Hell."
While in Heaven, God showed Ehmann his love for him and told him his destiny - to share the Gospel with the world. Seven hours later, the party-boy rocker was resurrected and found new life in Christ.
In an exclusive interview with the Gospel Herald, Ehmann, who is today known as a prophetic rock n' roll musician, songwriter and producer, shared the story of his unexpected rescue from eternal death into the arms of God and why he now lives his life to share the Gospel with a fallen world.
GH: Tell our readers a bit about your story. What inspired you to write "I Met God in Hell"?
TE: My story is really about God's love for all people. It's this long story of chasing me, where I'm not even looking or asking for Him; I didn't want anything to do with him. His love is so outrageous-- he protected me my whole life before I even met him. It's about his mercy and grace for all his children in the world. He's calling each one of us home with him, and he doesn't want us to get lost, That's the beauty of it.
It's also about the power of prayer - there are parents out there praying for their children that are lost in drugs and other stupidity, and I want to encourage them that God hears those prayers, and they're very important. It's a story of hope for the world. If God can save me, he can save anyone. That was the basic idea of the book.
GH: In your book, you say, "My story is one of an outrageously determined God who wouldn't stop chasing after me my whole life --- though I sure wasn't looking for Him or asking for any of this." What a powerful statement. Can you talk about that a bit?
TE: I had a $500 a day drug addiction for 30 years, from the time I was 13 years old. I could have died every day, but God protected me. Also, I was in 12 car wrecks, I drove cars into telephone poles, onto bridges, off bridges...I never got hurt. Every day was about self-destruction; causing fights, and walking right out of them unharmed. Every night of my life was a miracle. When I met the Lord, he told me he was the one that saved me out of all of this. I had no revelation of him at the point when I was out there being stupid, and thought I had saved myself in my own power, because my life revolved around me. But God supernaturally protecting me, and I think he does that to all of his children. He protects each and every one of us up to our last heartbeat.
GH: After overdosing on heroin, you literally died and experienced hell. You describe hell in detail and call it a "dreadful atmosphere of horror and terror." But after experiencing hell, you also experience in a sense, heaven. Tell me about that experience.
TE: Well...I don't like really talking about hell. But, It is like a rock concert - the amplification of everything, of the sound of noise, of screaming, of horror - it is a place of total desolation. There's nothing good there. Before I met God, my friends and I would laugh about how hell was a place to be -- you know, the stupid music industry. But the horror just penetrates your whole being. When I speak of being there, I was literally there. It's different than visions you experience when you are asleep and God imparts to you some sort of knowledge.
I think God gave me those dreadful experiences of hell and seeing a lot of my friends there that I thought were much better than me - nice loves, beautiful houses, children - some were even church people. To my horror, I recognized them and their lifeless voices... Hell penetrates your whole being with its horror.
Heaven the complete opposite, because it is full of God's light - He's the father of light. What I experienced in heaven was incredible, I got to see Jesus face to face - he's transparent in his beauty and majesty. He emanates pure love. The pureness of who He is is just peace - it's incredible. There's so much to heaven...mountains, the crystal sea..everything in Heaven has life in itself, even a drop of water has life. The colors are hard to describe - you can describe yellows and golds, but they're actually full of light and life in itself. I got to see several of the old prophets and several of the disciples. There are also so many amazing places there - it's an atmosphere of total tranquility and peace. When I speak of being there, it's just like being on the earth. It's just as real as the chair you're sitting in. Everything you can touch feel and taste.
Those two kingdoms are totally different. One is total horror - the worst horror movie you've ever experienced times one thousand. The other is beautiful - light and peace. It's incredible. There's a river that flows there from the throne room, and there are the streets of gold that John refers to when he describes his trip there. It's remarkable. I know just a sliver of what it really is.
The experience was so priceless that I guard it with everything that I have, especially in these days of false teachings. I can tell if something is off in someone's description of Heaven. People say they've experienced Heaven, but it's just new age stuff. I say that as a warning, because I think God is taking people into Heaven, and I don't know how many, but it's a priceless thing. I think the truth will divide itself on that point. You can tell the sincerity of what it is when a person speaks it. It's something you'll never forget or speak lightly of.
GH: From the time after experiencing hell, God continued to speak to you in a series of visions. At one point, you were still abusing drugs, but in your book you write, "He never once directly addressed my drug use. Apparently it wasn't that big of an issue to him at the time." Can you elaborate on that?
TE: It was the relationship he was chasing after. That was the main point. He wanted that first and foremost, and I think that is the most vital thing in salvation. For me, personally, God did it through the gift of seeing, but he can do it any way he wants. When you have that relationship, you have a piece of the father's heart. He showed me a piece of his mercy all my life and the love that he has for everyone in this world. He kept establishing that he won't let me go.
I look back at my life through the drugs and women, and he's the only place that I ever found true happiness and peace. It's like bringing a child up in his arms; he played with me as a child because truly I was a child. He just showed me who he was - I didn't go to church at that point. That is priceless, because if anything comes out of the relationship, it comes out of that deep love affair that he showed me. Afterward, he just kept pouring love on me year after year - it just took roots.
What can you say to a God that is chasing after you with everything you've ever wanted in your life, and your heart is looking for something and don't know what it is and finally find it? There's nothing you can say but "thank you" and just develop your life for this love affair with him. That's all he wants out of his children.
GH: What would you say to someone who would cast doubt on your story and question whether you actually experienced the afterlife?
TE: The first time I walked into a church, I knew nothing, I thought everyone saw and heard God. It was astonishing to me that they didn't, I thought, "What is going on here?" God is a spirit, so you have to experience him in the spirit. That's why Paul writes about being in the spirit and living in the spirit. He truly knew about it.
I would say, just fall in love with Jesus - he'll reveal what he wants to. He gives each of us a special gift. I think he let me experience hell and heaven so I could speak the truth to the world and stay there are those two realities, whether you like it or not. The gifting isn't important, it's the love affair with him. I think the heaven experiences gives hope to people, and I talk about how much fun it is so people can look forward to it.
GH: What advice would you offer to someone who, like you, is struggling with darkness and sin and desperately searching for a way out?
TE: I would say there's only one way out of any of this, and it's through Jesus Christ. I didn't ask him or seek him, his mercy chased me. I truly believe the best prayer is "Help me God" with a sincere heart, because he looks at the heart. That's the only thing he's looking at. He's not looking at the outward appearance. This God is so incredibly in love with each of us he's going to take care of the situation. A fervent prayer - that doesn't have to be a churchy prayer, just say, "Lord, if you're real, show me" that's another great prayer. I screamed both of those things.
There aren't any other choices of getting healed - they're temporary fixes. There's a point in addictions where you have enough self-will to stop it, but there's a point where there's none of it left. Pray to God, scream at God, and he will honor that. He definitely did me. Each one he will do differently because he made each of us before the world began, and he wants each one of his children to come home. There's only one solution: you get in the presence of God, and your life changes dramatically. You never look back, whatever sin it might be. You just keep your eyes focused on him, and he takes care of the rest. When you develop a relationship with him, those things fall away because you just can't deal with it anymore. You're a new creation.
GH: What's next for you? Do you know what God has next or are you just waiting for his voice?
TE: God is looking for obedience, and that can be found by walking with him every day. One of the last chapters of my book is the Hollywood story, and it starts in Pittsburg. God told me to give my house to a lady who had small children, and once I gave the house away, he said, "You're going to Hollywood." I jumped in the car with $500 in my pocket, and I drove cross country. Once I crossed Hollywood Boulevard, he said, "I'll never leave you homeless here."
Since then, God has provided for me through one miracle or another. For two years I got to minister by myself on the Boulevard and saw hundreds of miracles of healing, from physical to everything else. He was pouring his love onto those streets. I would speak life into entertainment industries, companies, etc. and then, he told me I was going to start a recording company. He opened the door there, and I got to speak into the lives of producers and rock stars and presidents of record labels. It's one miracle after another. When he tells you something, faith is what he's looking for, because he'll take care of it. I had no way of doing any of these things. I had no virtue to open doors that were impossible to get into. I think the obedience is all he is asking.
GH: What do you hope your readers - whether they are Christian or non-Christian - will take away from your story?
TE: Just the power of God's love for each one of us, that each one of us knows that there is a Creator that loves us intensely more than we could imagine or think. He's chasing after you; he's going to chase you until you agree with him because it's a priceless and beautiful gift. Whether it's my story or someone else's, God has many people to speak his words. It's an incredible God that chases after someone that doesn't deserve anything. It's his mercy, mercy triumphs over judgment. That's what I hope someone takes away, that God loves you. He has his eye on you every second of your life, just turn your heart back to him.