Landon Whitley was in the backseat, riding home from church with his mom and dad, on October 19, 1997, when tragedy struck. “I didn’t see what he was yelling at.
I didn’t see the ambulance coming, but I remember him yelling. That was the last thing I heard from him,” Julie Kemp, Landon’s mom recalled, according to Fox News. The “he” she is referring to was her husband Andy, and the ambulance she speaks of broadsided their car in an intersection.
Landon was just 8 years old when the ambulance, returning to its station, T-boned his family’s car at an intersection. His dad died instantly. Rescuers stabilized Julie but didn’t realize Landon was also in the car.
“They couldn’t see his body because of the damage that was done to the driver’s side of the car and Landon was sitting behind his dad,” Julie explained. When they saw Landon’s shoe, however, they began to search for a child’s body, CBN reported.
They eventually found Landon, but he wasn’t breathing. Resuscitation efforts began immediately, then he was life-flighted from the scene. He died two more times that day. Each time, he was brought back to life, but he wasn’t out of the woods.
“They told me that if he lived, which did not look good, but that if he lived, that he would be like an 8-year-old baby,” Julie recalled. “He would not know how to walk or talk or to eat because of all the brain damage. I was so desperate that that was okay. I would take that just to have him. He was all that I had.”
As her son fought for his life, Julie had to lay her husband to rest. At his funeral, she admits that she felt abandoned by God. “I was very disappointed, heartbroken. And when I’m sitting at the funeral I’m fussing at God.
I don’t understand why this happened,” she said. “I don’t understand why He didn’t send angels to protect us. But in the very next breath, I’m praying as hard to Him as I’ve ever prayed in my life for Landon to live.”
Although Landon suffered massive head trauma during the accident and was left in a coma, hooked up to all kinds of machines to keep him alive, after two weeks, the boy opened his eyes — an answer to Julie’s prayers.
To everyone’s shock, he didn’t have any brain damage. In the midst of celebrations that her boy was finally awake, however, Julie realized she had to tell him that he had lost his dad. “He had scars on his face. And his head was just full of hurt.
And I didn’t want to hurt him anymore,” Julie remembered. “So I asked Landon, I said, ‘Landon, do you know where your dad is at?’ And, he told me, ‘Yes, I know where he’s at. I saw him in heaven.’”
That’s not all Landon saw in heaven, either. He saw family friends who had passed before and siblings he never knew he had. “He looked over to me and he says, ‘Oh mom, by the way, I forgot to tell you. I saw your other two kids.’
And I just looked at him because I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. But I had two miscarriages before Landon was born. And he saw them in heaven,” Julie said. “We had never shared that with Landon. He did not know that we had lost two children before him.”
“I knew that they were my siblings even though no one had ever told me about them,” Landon explained. “Just being in Heaven, I guess you know—you know your own or you know who everyone is.”
Each time Landon died, he said he had a different experience in heaven. During his third visit, he says he met Jesus and was given a message and a mission.
“Jesus came to me and told me that I have to go back to earth and be a good Christian and tell others about Him,” Landon shared. “I just want people to realize that Jesus is real, there is a heaven, there are angels. And to follow His word and the Bible, and life does get better at the end.”
Following the command Jesus gave him that day, Landon and Julie now use their experience to help others who are struggling with loss and are in need of hope. “I know I’m doing it for Jesus,” Landon added.
“I know that He’s real. I know that angels are there. I know that there’s a heaven. I’ve seen Jesus. I know He’s there. He’s asked me to do this and this is what I’m doing.”
“I didn’t understand in 1997, you know, why God didn’t send an angel. But, I know that there were angels there. And, I know that we were protected and we are living out what His plan is for us,” Julie said.
“Instead of staying stuck in grief or instead of staying mad at Him, I was able to use this story to help others not to give up and to keep their faith on their grief journey,” she continued.“
It is a huge blessing that I get to watch my child tell others about Jesus,” Julie added. “He is always willing to let others know that there is a heaven. Cause he’s been there.”
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