St. Peter’s Angel and my Hang Out


 DISCLAIMER: I won’t disclose places or names of places as to not embarrass anyone who might read today’s blog and recognize what I am talking about.

Acts 12:7  And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise up quickly.” And his chains fell off from his hands.

8  And the angel said unto him, “Gird thyself and bind on thy sandals.” And so he did. And the angel said unto him, “Cast thy garment about thee and follow me.”

9  And he went out and followed him, and knew not whether what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he saw a vision.

10  When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city, which opened to them of his own accord. And they went out and passed on through one street, and forthwith the angel departed from him.

11  And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know in truth that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod and from all the expectations of the people of the Jews.”

I’d  visit a hang out where  men of a city converged to drink and pass the night.

This place had been there forever, or so it seemed.

You’d drive by and see men and women drunk, others reveling , some even stoned.

It had been my practice to visit the hangout, befriend the men and share the gospel in a spontaneous and non-threatening fashion.

I had been nicknamed “ the preacher,”

One night though, things were very different. Some of the men had sniffed cocaine, were high as kites and were very confrontational.

As I mingled, one coked out dude charged me with mal treating my children.

“ I walked past the preacher’s home today and heard one of his kid’s screaming”, he snapped in a heated way.

I knew what had happened. My kids were small in those days. One of my daughters was in the  habit of screaming bloody murder when she did not get her way.

That morning, my wife Mary, had washed her hair and wanted to brush out the knots. Brushing out the kinks of your little girl’s long hair after a bath  can be quiet the ordeal.

Mary had not begun the brushing but my daughter was screaming in its anticipation.

This  guy had walked past my house when this was happening.

“The preacher was beating his kid!”, he rejoined, in a loud voice.

Another coked out dude joined the fray.  “ Yeah, preacher, that’s really bad, what did you do to your kid?”

He began pushing me.

I  expounded on what had occurred to the fifteen men that were there. None of them said a word. Many of them I knew personally.

The loud mouthed and confrontational ones continued  inflaming  the tempers of the others. “ Yeah, we gotta punish the preacher for what he does to his kids!”

One continued to push me around. The others sat in silence, as if their tongues had been cut out.  Not one came to my defense.  I was dumb founded and frightened.

The ring leader retorted, “Let’s hang the preacher!”

With that he found a rope and began to make a noose for my lynching. The other one  kept on pushing me, while several more hurled accusations.

I appealed to the men who knew me the best, “You’ve known me for years! You see me with my children!”

Nothing. The silence was deafening.

Meanwhile the agitator in a corner gleefully continued constructing the noose.

Suddenly, out of nowhere a girl, a teen ager, appeared.  She was a native of the city.

“ Come and follow me”.

She led me past the crowd of the men. Even my agitators were speechless.

“Get in your car and get out here.”

Then she departed from me.

Acts 12:8  And the angel said unto him, “Gird thyself and bind on thy sandals.” And so he did. And the angel said unto him, “Cast thy garment about thee and follow me.”

9  And he went out and followed him, and knew not whether what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he saw a vision.

10  When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city, which opened to them of his own accord. And they went out and passed on through one street, and forthwith the angel departed from him.

And so I did. I never visited this haunt again, needless to say.

This had been Peter’s angel sent to me.

It’s tragically comical that it took a woman, probably the only one in that joint to rescue me. The men who had been friends were cowardly and spineless.

In our global travels, it’s mostly the women who have supported our ministry, while the men have been heartbreakingly absent.

This is one reason I support women in the ministry. It is troublesome that men who argue against their inclusion in the pulpit are sedentary in  the activities of their local congregations.

This story ends on a good note, as with all that God does.

Months later, I saw my noose maker. I said hello, extended my hand and shook his. He stared at me in disbelief, frozen in time, God’s conviction raining on him. Never uttering a word, he walked away. I’ve prayed for him on occasions. I knew he lived in pain.

To this day, I’ve not been able to find my angel who rescued me from the hangout and departed from me to thank her. Maybe in heaven I’ll find out that she was St. Peter’s angel.

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