ARGYRIS MITSIS: “I DIED AND WENT TO HELL BUT CHRIST SENT ME BACK”

We offer our readers a candid story by our contemporary who experienced clinical death and went to hell.

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Christianity

Good afternoon! My name’s Argyris Mitsis. I am from Megali Vrisi of Kilkis District, Greece. I want to share with you what has happened with me after my clinical death. I consulted with elder Kirillos, my spiritual father, and he suggested telling this story to other people. It is quite likely some of you would laugh at me. But even if at least one in a hundred believes me, it will be good enough: maybe, just one soul will be saved. It was quite hard to decide about speaking publicly, but I am willing to take responsibility for my words. If any of you doubt and insist that I “exaggerate,” I can show my hospital discharge papers to prove you wrong.

I lived an unholy life before. I worked nightshifts at a bar, cursed non-stop, and blasphemed the Lord and the Mother of God. There was nothing I held as sacred.

One day, I experienced the onset of a heart attack and ended up at the Papageorgiou Hospital. I have a friend who works there, Dr. Moskaros Lambros, as the head of the Circulatory Dynamics Department. We decided to do coronary angiography to get an idea of what is going on with me.

Even there, at the hospital, I kept cursing and blasphemed the Lord Jesus Christ and the Mother of God. It’s awful even to think about the things I was saying at the time! When the doctors received my test results, they decided to do a balloon surgery and place a stent.

I went into surgery under local anesthesia. They injected epidural anesthesia and I felt no pain at all. My legs went numb and at some point, I blacked out.

I went to a completely different place, wrapped in utter darkness. Other people’s souls surrounded me asking for help and pleading for mercy. The place was filled with hideous stench. Someone hit me hard; it felt as if my right arm got severely burnt.

To give you at least a slight idea of what I was going through, imagine that you are locked in a pitch-dark room. Someone is pressing down on your mouth and nostrils so you can’t breathe. All you can hear around is crying and moaning. You hear voices: “Have mercy on us! Save us! Take us from here!” That’s when I realized that I had ended up in hell. I was still my old self as before, but without a body: no hands, no feet… I lowered my head down to see what I look like but saw nothing. At some point, eyes shining red appeared before me. They stared straight at me. Then, I heard a powerful and loud voice: “Finally, you are here, I was waiting for you. I am ----.” He named himself. I don’t want to pronounce that satanic name. Then, he started beating me hard, scorching my right arm with fire. The pain was agonizing. They grabbed my neck trying to suffocate me. I lived through so much torment that, had I written all about it and you had read it, you would have begged the Lord on bended knee all day and night to have mercy on you. I am not going into too much detail or my story would take too much time. Besides, most of my torment had to do with my previous sins that I can share only at confession.

As I was tormented so terribly, I fell into despair and, for the first time in 48 years, I appealed to God in prayer. I cried out: “Lord, help me! I believe in You! Take me away from here!”

That’s when I saw the light coming from above. The light was moving towards me.

Hope arose in my soul again and my spirit grew stronger. The darkness around me cleared and I saw a Youth standing in front of me, shining-haired, with a soft beard and green eyes. He placed His hand on my head and said: “Do not be afraid, I am here.”

After that, I opened my eyes and saw myself back in the surgery room. My face was covered with a sheet. Three minutes ago, my heart stopped beating and the doctors were discussing how they should inform my wife about my death. I pulled the bedsheet away from my face and said: “Where are you going, guys? I am alive, I am here!” My surgeon Kostas and Georgiou, his assistant, rushed to me and, without saying another word, gave me an injection and proceeded with the surgery. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Later on, I was transferred to an ICU unit... When a doctor visited me there, he said: “Do you understand  that you experienced clinical death?” I replied: “I don’t know if I was dead but I am sure I went somewhere.”

When the anesthesia wore off, I felt strong pain in the right arm and right leg. It was excruciating burning pain. A nurse came to feed me. She looked at my arm and asked, “When did you manage to do this?”

I turned my head and saw that my arm had a burn in a shape of a crown topped with three sixes. Three sixes that I received there, in hell.

My doctor has known me for a long time and he was well aware of the many sins I have committed throughout my life, but I was never involved in satanic cults or things like that. He said that he had no idea where I got this burn. He was a full-on atheist, all he believed in was his science.

I was released from the hospital on the fourth day. I couldn’t lift my hand and it still reeked badly. The burn with three sixes hurt a lot. I don’t think I could have received it anywhere else but in hell.

At the time, I knew a man named Dimitri, a devout Christian. May the Lord bless him for offering to drive me to the monastery! At first, I didn’t want to go: “It’s so foolish! What’s that for?” My faith was still way too weak then.

Yes, I forgot to mention something. While I was still in my hospital room, there was an icon on the wall across from my bed and the saint depicted on it looked straight at me. I always felt that he looked straight in my eyes. I asked the nurse to take the icon off the wall and bring it closer. She took it off the wall and showed it to me. It was St. Paisios the Athonite.

When I left the hospital, Dimitri took me to the monastery (I am not going to share its name with you). The elder listened to my story and then I had a confession, the very first one in my life.

I must say that, as soon as I entered the monastery, I was completely overtaken by rage. I was ready to beat the monks; I just went insane. For three days and three nights, the fathers and brethren of the monastery kept a prayer vigil for me. They were very kind all the time I was with them, and with God’s help we survived those awful days. Every night, the devil would come to them: He kept knocking and charging at the doors, and roared with an infernal growl: “Where’s my Argyris? Give him to me, he is mine!”

But the elder was ready for a battle. He said: “It’s either you get better or I die with you.” He was truly a saintly man, virtuous to the highest degree, and I would never have spoken about him in public had it not been true.

On the third day, I woke up and realized that a mark with the sixes burnt on my arm in hell has almost completely disappeared. A reeking odor remained though, and I still couldn’t raise my hand too high. Dimitri came for a visit and I asked him of a favor: Take me to Souroti, to the grave of St. Paisios the Athonite. I second miracle took place there and I have no explanation for it whatsoever.

Dimitri took me to Souroti and I saw a lot of people standing next to St. Paisios’ grave, more like a large crowd. A small house was nearby and there were a few nuns with their abbess. She called me to come over:

"Come here!"

"Are you asking me?"

"Yes," she replied. –"Are you Argyris?"

"How do you know my name?"

I thought for a moment that maybe Dimitri told her about me, but when would he have time to do that? Just then gerondissa said:

"The holy man told us you are coming. Follow me."

She took me to his grave and said: “Pray at your father’s grave.” I leaned down and kissed the cross. When I was ready to leave the grave, abbess stopped me again. She granted the highest honor by taking me to the saint’s cell where he used to take his rest; his stool was also there. “I wish you knew how much I love him!” I told Gerondissa. To that, she replied: “You will get to meet him.”

Since then, my life has changed a lot. I live poorly but Christ abides in my house and St. Paisios is always with me. Maybe he is just a saint for anyone else but for me, he is like my father. Ever since I felt his presence in my life, I found new life. He guides me and offers advice.

Six months later, I had another heart attack. An ambulance took me to the hospital and the same cardiac unit. The doctor said, “I have to do open-heart emergency surgery, or you will be gone in a couple of days. If we don’t do it, it is sure death; but if you have the operation, there’s a ten percent chance you will survive. You are in a really bad condition.”

I asked him to give me ten minutes to think about it. When I was left alone, I looked at the saint’s icon I had with me and it gave me strength. It felt as if someone whispered softly in my ear: “Go and fear nothing.” Then, I called my doctor in:

"Georgiou, let’s go to the surgery room. You are not going to do it alone."

"What do you mean, Argyris?"

"Your hand will be guided by someone else."

I went to the operating table having a ten percent survival chance. The surgery lasted thirteen hours. Following it, I was transferred to the ICU. When I woke up, I couldn’t breathe on my own. The doctor and the nurse rushed to my bed and installed an oxygen breathing pipe. The doctor said, “The news isn’t too good. Something went odd and the surgery didn’t go as we’d have liked it to. We will keep you here for three or four days and then you will stay at a different unit attached to life support machines for ten days.”

That’s when I lived to see another miracle: my first-ever vision of a saint. I was lying there looking at the ceiling and suddenly I sensed how the air in my room was filled with fragrance. Then, I saw St. Paisios. He said: “Get up, lazybones, enough lying around! Everything’s fine with you. Get up and let another patient stay here.”

I can present my medical release forms as proof that in two days I was disconnected from all life support and took my first steps. My surgeon would confirm the same thing. On the second day, when he visited me, I felt wonderful as if I never had open-heart surgery. The doctor came to my bed, looked at the icon standing at the bedside, and then said: “Is this the father you were talking about?” Now, remember this: He was an atheist, through and through. He went down on his knees, crossed himself, and venerated the icon. I will never forget this moment. I looked at him thinking that it remains to be seen who of the two of us would benefit more from the miracle we have just witnessed…

It all happened on a Saturday. The next day, on Sunday, an elderly monk entered the room to visit another patient. Anyone who stayed in our room would heal and leave the hospital quickly because the saint was there. The monk looked at me and asked:

"What’s wrong with you, my child?"

"I had an open-heart surgery."

"Everyone here receives visitors but you; don’t you have anyone to visit you? Are you an orphan?"

"Yes. I have no father or mother."

Here's what he told me in response:

"My child, the Most Holy Mother of God is your Mother, and the angels are keeping vigil at your bedside. They protect you."

I was discharged from the hospital and kept alive as before. I don’t know what you will make of my story. I was later diagnosed with throat cancer but to this day I never asked the saint to heal me. Every day, I spend time in prayer for the whole world, and also… I don’t know, maybe it is too bold but I pray to the Lord that, when it is my time to depart this life, St. Paisios the Athonite would come to me. I pray he would take me by hand and we depart together…

It is impossible to name all the miracles that have happened to me ever since I found him in my life. Once, I accidentally touched an exposed electric wire with my hand and again St. Paisios saved me. I can’t even describe how much my life has changed ever since this saint entered it.

Of course, I love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ more than anything else in the world. My father confessor elder Kirillos once told me: “Argyris, the Lord truly blessed you! I have lived in the monastery ever since I was a boy, but the Lord never considered me worthy to gain such a precious experience. In all likelihood, that Youth, who saved you from hell, was Christ Himself. He gave you another chance and extended your days on earth so that you could repent of your sins to stand before the Lord with a purified heart.”

I know that my story may sound anecdotal to you, but, honest to God, I told you the truth. I truly lived through all of this. I committed all kinds of sins in my life and God is the only reason I am still alive.

At one time, the Jehovah Witnesses offered me the money to resolve my financial difficulties but I refused. Christ, and only Him, will dwell in my house.

I have shared my story without going into extra details, which would wear you down with their length. The doors of my house are always open for those who want to talk about it. The bottom line is: I don’t know how much longer I am going to live or how much longer my heart will keep on beating. Of course, I am going to die at one point. What I had encountered in hell still haunts me like a nightmare. Sometimes, I jump out of bed in terror in the middle of the night. Those sounds still reverberate in the back of my mind. I am not afraid of death but I am terrified of going back to hell. God forbid, I end up there again! Lord, have mercy and save us!

In conclusion, I would like to add something my wife doesn’t like to hear about. Well, certainly, I have to go through sufferings and pain here on earth, but as my beloved St. Paisios the Athonite used to say: “The earth will be our remedy from all our afflictions.” Thank you for reading!

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