Acts 12:7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood there, and a light shined in the prison room; and striking the side of Peter, he roused him saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell away from his hands.
8 And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals”; and he did so. And he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
9 And going out, he was following him, and did not know that the thing taking place by the angel was true, but he was thinking that he was seeing a vision.
10 And going though the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate which leads into the city, which was opened to them of its own accord; and going out, they went forward one street, and immediately the angel withdrew from him.
11 And Peter, having come to himself, said, “Now I know truly that the Lord has sent forth His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jews.”
Years ago I would visit and hang out where men of a city converged to drink and pass the night.
This place had been there forever.
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-religious fashion.
I had been nicknamed “the preacher,”
On that 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 accused me with maltreating 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 little then. 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.
Mary had not begun the brushing but my daughter was screaming in its anticipation.
This guy had walked past my house when this occurred.
“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 explained what had occurred to the fifteen men present. None of them said a word. Many of them I knew personally. Not one came to my defense.
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. 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. My agitators were frozen speechless.
“Get in your car and get out here.”
Then she departed.
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.
And these same ones would say that women don’t belong in the ministry.
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 to thank her. Maybe in heaven I’ll find out that she was St. Peter’s angel.