The man, who introduced himself as Joel, claims to have briefly died due to nitrogen gas poisoning in 1973. During the incident, which occurred when spraying down a wine tank from the inside, Joel stopped breathing and his colleagues thought he had died. The so-called near-death experience (NDE) left Joel with vivid memories of flying down a dark tunnel with a bright light at the end of it.

Joel believes his experience was real and indicative of there being an afterlife.

He told the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF): “This tunnel seemed to be very long, like miles, yet it didn’t seem to take any time to go through.

“There was a bright light. It was drawing me to it.

“I felt like I popped out of the tunnel and fell into this white light, yet I wasn’t really falling, I was more like floating around inside of the light.

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“It seemed like a container of light but without any end or borders.

“I felt very much at peace and I liked being there in the light.”

Joel then felt a presence within the light, which he identified as Jesus Christ.

Jesus was dressed in a white robe “that was dripping with gold”.

Even years after the encounter, Joel remembers in great detail what he saw and how he felt.

They describe a sensation of experiencing their deceased relatives

Dr Sam Parnia, NYU Langone School of Medicine

He said: “I felt so safe, so warm and I did not want to ever leave His presence. I felt like I was home.

“Then He spoke to me and told me about my life and what was yet to come. He told me that I had to go back.

“I argued with Him about staying but He said that it was not my time to be with Him yet and that I had many more things to do in my life.

“He raised up his hand and pointed back to the tunnel and I was immediately travelling back through the tunnel that I had arrived in, only a few moments before.”

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Joel’s next memory is of waking on his back, with two men crying over him.

He quit his job after the incident and has come to believe the world was created by a single Creator.

However, most medical experts agree NDEs can be explained through non-supernatural means.

NDEs often share common elements such as memories of seeing dead loves or out-of-body experiences.

Dr Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City, told an Oz Talk: “People describe a sensation of a bright, warm, welcoming light that draws people towards it.

“They describe a sensation of experiencing their deceased relatives, almost as if they have come to welcome them.

Some experts believe these could be hallucinations triggered by a lack of oxygen in the brain during a moment of trauma.

Another theory has proposed the body naturally releases the psychoactive chemical dimethyltryptamine (DMT) when dying.

A third theory suggests NDEs are hallucinations caused by dying brain cells.

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