Three weeks before she died, eleven-year-old Ann Kumm told her younger sister exactly what she wanted for her funeral. And she had told others she wasn’t afraid to die. She knew where she was going.
Late in the evening of July 5, 2008, her parents said goodbye to their daughter after a horse riding accident abruptly ended her young life.
“I can tell you the pain we felt was so intense that if I had the power of God, I would have shook the earth and blocked out the sun,” her father Mike wrote. “But in the midst of our sorrow is when God took action.”
As her mom, LaNell, held Ann’s lifeless body in the hospital room, Mike suddenly had a brief vision of his daughter standing before the gate to Heaven. An hour later, when they began their final goodbyes, Mike saw Ann once again, standing at Heaven’s gate and looking at him until she turned to go.
“It’s important you know that she wasn’t sad, crying, or upset,” Mike wrote. “She was excited about where she was, with a look on her face of, ‘Dad, I know where I am.’ She was home.”
Although God has used that last sight of their daughter to comfort them as parents, Mike also believes it was meant to encourage them to testify about the existence of God and Heaven. So it was no coincidence that the day of Ann’s funeral, LaNell was given a Heaven booklet by Randy Alcorn.
“I really can’t wait [for Heaven], but I will do the Lord’s work while I am here,” LaNell said. “I just have to know all I can about Heaven, because that is where my precious daughter is.”
This hope of Heaven has inspired a fruitful ministry for Ann’s family as they reach out to others who are experiencing loss. LaNell felt a special compassion for others who are grieving, and began reading obituaries so she could send a note and a Heaven booklet to those who have lost a child, or Heaven for Kids to children in families who have lost a sibling or a parent. LaNell and Mike also planned and hosted a dinner for bereaved parents, with the goal of offering them a message of hope.
Randy Alcorn’s books on Heaven have been a key part of sharing that message. LaNell, her sister Laurie, and her mother LaDonna have together passed out over 500 Heaven booklets and dozens of Randy’s other Heaven-related books, such as TouchPoints: Heaven, 50 Days of Heaven, and Heaven for Kids. Talking about Ann—the girl who loved horses, reading, and Jesus—is a way for her family to share with others who need the hope of Christ.
“I just pray God puts the people in our path He wants us to give the books to,” Laurie wrote.
It seems God is continuing to honor that prayer. One morning Laurie was at the DMV and thought she was out of Heaven booklets. But when she opened her purse, she found one and gave it to a man she had met and been talking with. Ten minutes later, she had the chance to share about her niece yet again and wished she had a booklet to give. Surprisingly, when she sat down, she found another booklet stashed inside her purse.
“I am convinced God will continue to do great things,” Laurie wrote. “It’s amazing the people He puts in our paths to give them [the Heaven booklets] to.”
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.