the pastor's story file
a resource file for pastors/teachers/speakers
THEME: Angels March / 1987
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2
IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE ANGELS Have you ever seen an angel? Dr. S. W. Mitchell thought he had. Dr. Mitchell was a well-known neurologist in Philadelphia. After one very tiring day, he retired early, until he was awakened by a persistent knocking at the door. It was a little girl, poorly dressed and deeply upset. She told him that her mother was very sick and needed his help. Even though it was a bitterly cold, snowy night, and he was bone tired, Mitchell dressed and followed the girl. He found the mother desperately ill with pneumonia. After treating her, Dr. Mitchell complimented the sick woman on her daughter's persistence and courage. The woman gave him a strange look and said, "My daughter died a month ago. Her shoes and coat are in the closet there." Dr. Mitchell went to the closet and opened the door. There hung the very coat worn by the little girl who had been at his front door. The coat was warm and dry and could not possibly have been out in the wintry night.
Have you ever seen an angel? John G. Paton believes he has. While he was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed, terror-stricken, all that night. At dawn, they were amazed to see the attackers just turn and leave.
A year later, the chief of that very tribe was converted to Christianity. Paton then asked him what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them that night. The chief asked Paton a return question: "Who were all those men you had with you there?" Paton told him that there were just he and his wife, but the chief insisted they had seen hundreds of men standing guard — big men in shining garments with drawn swords. Have you ever seen an angel? +++++
Submitted by Joe Bray, Broadway Christian Church, Lexington, KY.
ANGELS ON ASSIGNMENT This happened in 1956 during the Mau Mau uprisings in East Africa and the story is told by missionary Morris Plotts.
A band of roving Mau Maus came to the village of Lauri, surrounded it and killed every inhabitant including women and children . . . 300 in all. Not more than three miles away was the Rift Valley School, a private school where missionary children were being educated and away from their missionary parents. Immediately upon leaving the carnage of Lauri . . . they came with spears, bows and arrows, clubs, and torches to the school with the same intentions of complete destruction in mind.
Of course, you can imagine the fear of those little inhabitants along with their instructors housed in the boarding school. Word had already reached them about the destruction of Lauri . . . there was no place to flee with little children and women. So the only resource was to go to prayer. Through the fear and crying . . . the whole school went to prayer.
Out of the darkness of the night . . . lighted torches were seen coming toward the school. Soon there was a complete ring of these terrorists about the school . . .
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cutting off all avenues of escape. Shouting and curses could be heard coming from the Mau Maus. Then they began to advance on the school . . • tightening the circle, shouting louder, coming closer. All of a sudden . . . when they were now close enough to throw a spear . . . they stopped. They began to retreat and soon were running into the jungle. A call had gone out to the authorities and an army had been sent in the direction of the school to hopefully rescue the inhabitants. By the time the army arrived, their would-be assassins had dispersed. The army spread out in search of them and miraculously, captured the entire band of raiding Mau Maus. Later before the judge at their trial, the leader was called to the witness stand. The judge questioned him: "On this particular night, did you kill the inhabitants of Lauri?" Came the reply, "Yes."
"Was it your intent to do the same at the missionary school for their children in Rift Valley?" The answer was "Yes."
"Well, then," asked the judge, "why did you not complete the mission? Why didn't you attack the school?" Remember that this was a heathen person from the darkness who had never read the Bible, had never heard the gospel story. The leader of the Mau Maus said: "We were on our way to attack and destroy all the people and school . . . but as we came closer, all of a sudden, between us and the school there were many huge men, dressed in white with flaming swords and we became afraid and ran to hide!"
"My God shall give His angels charge over thee ..." +++++
Told by Phil Plotts, son of veteran missionary, Morris Plotts. Submitted by Robert Strand, First Assembly of God, Grand Junction, CO.
MODERN ANGELS In the cartoon "For Better or For Worse" (about family life), a mother is on a plane with two children. Her five-year-old boy is next to the window, playing with the curtain and making a mess with a bag of popcorn. She is holding her baby who is grabbing at a stranger sitting next to her, an elderly man. The stewardess announces, "Put your trays down for dinner, please." Now the Mother is trying to feed herself and the baby on her lap (who is knocking things off the tray) — the boy is yelling, "I can't cut this meat, Mom." The man is looking at them sternly. He calls out: "Miss, Stewardess, will you take this tray?" He hands her his tray, and then turns to the mother. She cringes and looks up in fear. The man smiles, reaches over and says: "Here, let me take the baby for a while . . ." As the man is playing with the baby on his lap, the mother sits back and is eating in peace. She smiles and says to herself: "Now and then, when you least expect it, you meet an angel."
I have been on planes in the same situation. You know: 150 seats and I get the one next to the howling kid or the kid running around knocking into me. I used to be tempted to say, "Sonny, why don't you go outside and play!" I must admit that after seeing this comic strip I have tried to at least be more patient and understanding in similar situations — at least I smile or wave — I haven't offered to hold a baby yet . . . but it's a start! +++++
Submitted by Charles Krieg, St. Joseph's Seminary, Princeton, NJ.
The Pastor's Story File (Copyright 1987) (ISSN 0882-3545) (USPS 738-650) is published monthly for $24.95 per year by Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, California 95070. Second-Class Postage paid at Saratoga, California. Postmaster: Send address changes to THE PASTOR'S STORY FILE, c/o Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, California 95070. To foreign countries — subscription rate is $30.95 in US$ or currency of equivalent value. Phone: (408) 867-4211
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GOD'S SPECIAL MESSENGER In the spring of 1982, I attended a morning prayer group which meets in a town within the suburbs of Springfield, Illinois. I was the speaker for this meeting. Before I spoke, a neighboring pastor shared from his recent trip to Mexico. He, along with several others, had gone there on a preaching mission. While they were returning their van developed mechanical problems. After jacking up the van, the pastor crawled under to check out the problem. The jack collapsed. He suddenly felt the crushing force upon his chest. His companions quickly grabbed the bumper to lift the van. They weren't able to budge it. He cried out: "Jesus! Jesus!" Within a few seconds a youthful looking Mexican came running toward them. He was thin and small in stature. His face was smiling. As he reached the van, he grabbed the bumper and lifted it. The others also joined him and said that it went up like a feather.
As he was freed, the pastor said that he felt his chest expand and the broken bones mend. The visitor then lowered the van, waved to them, and ran in the direction from which he came, until he disappeared on the horizon. It is for us to realize that God still sends his special messengers to protect his people. "The Lord encamps around those who fear him and rescues them" (Psalm 34:7). And more than we may realize it, as we venture through life, we have "entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2). +++++
Submitted by Kenneth Nordvall, First United Presby. Church, Rock Island, IL.
TRAIN STOPS JUST IN TIME The British express train raced through the night, its powerful headlamp spearing the black darkness ahead. The train was carrying Queen Victoria.
Suddenly the engineer saw a startling sight. Revealed in the beam of the engine's headlights was a weird figure in a black cloak standing in the middle of the tracks and waving its arms. The engineer grabbed for the brakes and brought the train to a grinding halt.
He and his fellow trainsraen climbed out to see what had stopped them. But they could find no trace of the strange figure. On a hunch, he walked a few yards further up the tracks. Suddenly he stopped and stared into the fog in horror. The bridge had been washed out in the middle and had toppled into a swollen stream. If he had not heeded the ghostly figure, the train would have plunged into the stream.
While the bridge and the tracks were being repaired, the crew made a more intensive search for the strange flagman. But not until they got to London, did they solve the mystery.
At the base of the engine's head lamp, the engineer discovered a huge dead moth. He looked at it a moment, then on impulse wet its wings and pasted it to the glass of the lamp.
Climbing back into his cab, he switched on the lamp and saw the "flagman" in the beam. He knew the answer now: the moth had flown into the beam, seconds before the train was due to reach the washed-out bridge. In the fog, it appeared to be a phantom figure, waving its arms.
When Queen Victoria was told of the strange happening she said, "I'm sure it was no accident. It was God's way of protecting us."
From Paul Lee Tan's Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times,
(Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishers, 1984), pp. 129-130.
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MODERN "ANGELS UNAWARES" In 1958, my mother introduced me to the world of flowers by bringing me several irises (often called "flags") from Missouri. For years I grew them for their beauty alone, but gradually I began a fascinating hobby of cross-pollinating them and raising my own varieties (such varieties may be registered with flower officials and introduced to commerce).
Among my irises was one tall yellow that proved to be beloved by many gardeners, which I named for my dear mother. A planting of it held a prominent place in her garden for years while she proudly informed visitors that her son had named it for her.
Her entire family was grieved at her passing several years ago. But there proved to be "angels unawares" to sustain us. On the day of her funeral, my brother and I were walking in her garden with heavy hearts when we saw a sight that buoyed us greatly — her iris was in full bloom! We took the many flowers to the funeral and the director arranged them in a container on a small table at her feet. Many people commented on the beauty of these flowers among the many sprays, and the "luck" of having them bloom for the funeral.
Almost exactly one year later, I was in my garden with an artist taking photographs of that flower to later be transferred to canvas in my mother's memory when word came of my father's sudden passing. We were crushed at having lost them both in such a short time. As I drove to my father's home for the funeral, I remembered again and again how that flower had blessed us a year earlier, and now we were reminded again of their love for one another and for us. On the day of the funeral, I looked at that same plant in the garden, now untended, that had bloomed so wonderfully a year earlier, but this time only one small flower bloomed before the plant itself died. That one flower later reposed in the shared container on their gravestone.
Every year my mother's flower blooms profusely in my garden, and I thank God for His "angels unawares." The artist's watercolor hangs in my living room now, and seems to say, "Remember us!" +++++
Submitted by Professor William E. Jones, Oklahoma Christian College, Oklahoma
BACK TO LIFE A 70-year-old lady in a household was the only one who had knowledge of most of the daily operations of her family as well as the operations of a house church. She alone knew where the Bibles were, who the messengers were, who could or could not be trusted. Suddenly she died of a heart attack.
Her family felt lost. She had not been able to pass on the information that was so vital to all. They began to pray, "Lord, restore our mother back to life." After being dead two days, she came back to life. She scolded her family for calling her back. They reasoned with her. They said they would pray that in two days she could return to the Lord. It would take that much time to set the matters straight.
After two days, the family and friends began to sing hymns and pray that the Lord would take her back. The mother's final words were: "They're coming. Two angels are coming." This incident caused the entire village to repent.
From The Church in China, by Carl Lawrence (Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis, MN, 1985), pp. 76-77. Submitted by Nora Ringor, San Jose, CA.
THREE ANGELS See the story in the June, '85 issue of our companion letter, Parables, Etc. [Vol. 5. No. 4] about Dick Hillis and his amazing rescue from China during the invasion by Japan in 1937.
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You think there are no angels any more —
No angels come to tell us in the night
Of joy or sorrow, love or death —
No breath of wings, no touch of palm to say
Divinity is near.
Our revelations come
By telephone, or postman at the door,
You say —
Oh no, the hour when fate is near, Not these the voices that can make us hear, Not these
Have power to pierce below the stricken mind Deep down into perception's quivering core. Blows fall unheeded on the bolted door; Deafly we listen; blindly look; and still Our fingers fumbling with the lock are numb, Until The Angels come.
Oh, do you not recall It was a tree,
Springing from earth so passionately straight And tall,
That made you see, at last, what giant force Lay pushing in your heart? And was it not that spray
Of dogwood blossoms, white across your road, That all at once made grief too great a load to bear?
No angels any more, you say No towering sword, no angry seas divide — No angels —
But a single bud of quince, Flowering out of season on the day
She died, Cracked suddenly across a porcelain world!
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1935-1955, from "The Unicorn and Other Poems" (Pantheon: Vintage, 1956). Submitted by Martha McLean Campbell, Austin, Texas.
WITNESS TO ANGELS Six Soviet cosmonauts said they witnessed the most awe-inspiring spectacle ever encountered in space — a band of glowing angels with wings as big as jumbo jets. According to "Weekly World News," cosmonauts Vladimir Solovev, Oleg Atkov and Leonid Kizim said they first saw the celestial beings last July, during their 155th day aboard the orbiting "Salyat 7" space station. "What we saw," they said, "were seven giant figures in the form of humans, but with wings and mist-like halos, as in the classic depiction of angels. Their faces were round with cherubic smiles." Twelve days later the figures returned and were seen by three other Soviet scientists, including woman cosmonaut Svetlann Savitskaya. "They were smiling," she said, "as though they shared in a glorious secret."
The editor of Parade magazine added this note: "Look at it from their viewpoint — at least they had proof of life in the hereafter." Submitted by Rev. Hardison.
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SOUNDS LIKE ANGELS We so often hear the expression "the voice of an angel!" that I got to wondering what an angel would sound like. So I did some research, and discovered that an angel's voice sounds remarkably like a person saying, "Hurry up!"
Until the time I took over, research had been blocked because it was based on the delusion that the voice of an angel would always be beautiful. The words "Get up" are rarely beautiful, never less so than at 7 A.M. Yet, that is always what the angels say when they are talking to me, as reported in the Bible. I can't think of anything an angel ever said but, "Get up and hurry!" An angel comes to Peter in jail and says, "Rise quickly." An angel says to Gideon, "Arise and go in this thy might." An angel says to Elijah, "Arise and eat." An angel appears to Joseph in a dream, when Herod is slaughtering the infants, and says, "Go quickly." An angel appears to Philip and says, "Arise and go."
Really, the angels are monotonous talkers! They always say the same thing — "Arise, hurry!" But so is a firebell monotonous. If we are to be saved, it will be by monotony, the reiterated command, "Get up and get going!" Listen carefully and you can hear the voice of angels above the contemporary din of the world, a voice that ought to get us out of lounge chairs and comfortable beds. "Arise, go quickly!"
It might be a good idea to allow an angel to occupy the pulpit on Sunday. An irate hearer said to Samuel Barnett when he was canon of Bristol Cathedral in England, "I come to church to be comforted, and you sound like a fire alarm." Perhaps there was a fire.
Halford E. Lucock, in Christian Century. Submitted by Don Cheadle, Blachly, OR.
LOOK — GRANDPA IS WALKING! Everyone in the town thought highly of old Dr. Wang. For several generations his family had lived in the two-storied house surrounding an open courtyard. Trained in western medicine, he had had misgivings at the time of the revolution. But he worked hard to "serve the people," and clung to his hope of a better future. As the hard times came to his province, Dr. Wang treated the sick as he always had, even when many had no money to pay him. Early in the '60s when there was famine all about, the doctor was grateful for a few white turnips a patient might bring, or three eggs tied in a square of dingy cloth. People who were both ill and hungry willingly parted with these in exchange for the doctor's skills.
When the Cultural Revolution struck with its madness, old Dr. Wang was one of the first targets of persecution. Paraded through the streets by throngs of jeering Red Guards, the kindly doctor was mocked by some of the very neighbors he had helped with his medicine. His western training marked him for punishment and re-education, and being a known Christian, his persecution was severe. The result of it all was a permanent injury. It is not known exactly what happened and like so many who suffered much during the late '60s, the old doctor did not talk about it. But the fact was that Dr. Wang could no longer walk. Confined to his bed in a small upstairs room, he was cared for by his family.
One night after all the family had gone to sleep, the wife of his eldest son lay awake on her bed, unable to sleep. Presently she heard the creaking sound of the great wooden gate which opened into the courtyard. Springing up, she ran out on the narrow verandah and looked down just as a white-clad figure entered the house. Could it be a thief? Barefooted, she slipped down the steep stairway and peered cautiously into each room below. No one was there except family members sound asleep.
Meanwhile, in the little room upstairs, old Dr. Wang stirred in his sleep. Suddenly a shimmering light shone down upon him and his eyes opened to a miraculous vision of the Lord Jesus Christ standing beside his bed. "Son," he heard Jesus say, "get up and walk!"
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"I can't," he replied, overwhelmed with surprise and wonder, "I cannot walk." So Jesus reached out His hands and helped him sit up.
"Do you believe in Me?" Jesus asked.
"I do, I do, Lord!" he answered.
"If you believe in Me," Jesus said, "Get up and walk!"
Without hesitation the old man obeyed. He rose from his bed and began walking. The Lord Jesus Himself had touched him. Then Dr. Wang began to laugh out loud with joy. It was 2:20 in the morning and the laughter wakened the doctor's nephew who slept in the same room. "My uncle has gone out of his mind," the young man thought, and he rushed to support him lest he fall.
In another room Dr. Wang's eldest son was awakened by all the commotion. He jumped up, hurried down the hall, and was shocked to see his father standing by his bed laughing. He, too, thought the old man had gone mad. Crying out in fear and grief, he was about to clutch him, when his father said very firmly, "Keep your hands off me! I am not out of my mind. The Lord Jesus came to this room! He healed me!"
Then in order to prove his words, he walked down the steep stairway from his room to the ground floor below. There he turned around, smiled up at his frightened family, and began walking up again, taking steady, even steps. The joy of the family knew no bounds. Excitement woke up everyone in the household.
It was the middle of the night but the news could not wait until morning. The entire
family trooped over to the second son's home on another street. "Look! Grandpa is
walking!" cried a young grandson, as one by one the startled relatives joined the
excited group. Laughing and rejoicing, they gave thanks to God together.
In his joy, Dr. Wang wanted to continue to the meeting place of the Christian believers, but his sons persuaded him to wait till morning. At dawn the family went to see the astonished pastor and from there hurried on to tell the doctor's sisters. Along the way they met his young niece on her way to work. She stared open-mouthed to see him walking, but hearing what had happened, she began praising the Lord, "Oh, blessed be our God," she exclaimed, "He is so wonderful!"
On the following Sunday, the house where believers gathered for worship was crowded out. People sat in every room of the house, even though they couldn't see the pastor. Some stood in the courtyard and looked in the windows. Others filled the alleyway. Vainly a young man tried to keep everyone singing together, but no one watched as he pointed to the words on the wall sheet. All eyes were on old Dr. Wang who was moving from room to room greeting the Christians. Finally, when he began to speak in the center room, a hush came over the people. They wanted to hear every word of his amazing story. Questions flew and he answered them one by one: "Yes, my eyes were open when I saw the Lord Jesus . . . Yes, His face was full of love . . . His face seemed to shine ..." Suddenly the pastor asked him, "Dr. Wang, can you also jump?"
"Can I jump? Of course I can!" said the old man, and with that he began to jump up and down for all to see. Dr. Wang now travels far and wide on his bicycle telling all who will listen about the power of Jesus. And people are not only listening, they are calling on the Name of the Lord and being saved!
Where Angels Tread, Marjorie Baker, submitted by Jim Swanson, Pomona, CA.
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THE PRESENT INHABITANTS OF HEAVEN Of all the supernatural beings mentioned in the Scriptures, it is the angels who are constantly depicted as being identified with heaven. When the angel of God called to Hagar in the wilderness, we read that this call was heard "out of heaven" (Gen. 21:17; also of the angel commanding Abraham in Gen. 22:11, 15). When the angel appeared at the time of the vision which Jacob had at Bethel, he saw a ladder reaching to heaven on which the angels of God were ascending and descending. Often the angels are called "the heavenly ones" (Ps. 29:1) or "the heavenly host" (Luke 2:13). When the angelic host had finished their song to the shepherds, we read that "the angels went away from them into heaven" (Luke 2:15). It was an angel "from heaven" that rolled away the stone at the tomb where our Lord was buried (Matt. 28:2; see also Luke 22:43). Our Lord Himself often spoke of "the angels in heaven" (Mark 12:25; 13:32; Matt. 22:30). Then we have such a phrase as "the angels of heaven" (Matt. 24:36), and in a most interesting passage our Lord said, "Angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10). From Wilbur M. Smith's The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), p. 107.
OUR ARMY IS BIGGER — OPEN HIS EYES! So one night the king of Syria sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city. When the prophet's servant got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. "Alas, my master, what shall we do now?" he cried out to Elisha. "Don't be afraid!" Elisha told him. "For our army is bigger than theirs." Then Elisha prayed, "Lord, open his eyes and let him see!" And the Lord opened the young man's eyes so that he could see horses of fire and chariots of fire everywhere upon the mountain! II Kings 6:14-17, The Living Bible