Angels are described in the Bible as “Messengers” simply that. The Old Testament Hebrew word most commonly used for these beings is Malak which means a dispatched deputy or ambassador. It is the New Testament Greek word that is used to describe these being that we get our word for these creatures, the word Anglos which means messenger, or one who brings a message. Most of the time in Scripture when they appear it is not the classic winged other-worldy creature we usually associate with angels. No super being with wings. They usually appear (unless you’re a prophet having a vision) as normal humans, there at the right time and then simply vanish. Sometimes figuratively and sometimes quite literally.
I’ve had a few encounters with beings that I would later think were angels. These were people who were there at the right time but simply vanished from any record as if they never existed. One drove in a gold car and taught me a lesson that I shall never forget. He didn’t have to say a word. I just knew. Other times it takes a while for it to sink in that something is not quite right… and you realize you might have had an angelic visitation.
Such was the time when I was Pastoring in
He was an African American man who looked as if he was in his sixties with in old fashioned brown 3 piece suit and a black bowler on his head. An old pocket watch hung from his vest. He pulled it out and looked at me with a smile. I’ll remember that smile forever. There was just something about it. “I thought the Church would be closed by now, it’s almost supper time. I guess I’m lucky you were here.” He said as he walked forward to shake my hand. He told me his name was Jonas Robertson, and that he stopped by this way once in a while. I told him I was the Pastor and although I never wore a clerical collar or a suit that day he just shook his head while still smiling that effervescent smile and said, “Oh, I know that.”
We started talking and he told me of the history of the church and the people that went here long ago. How that the people back then just served the community out of love and accepted everyone. They even named the church intentionally to show its all inclusiveness. He gave me a knowing glance and said, “Those days are long gone now.” And proceeded to talk about the issues the church was going through without being specific to any incidents. But he hit the nail on the head. “It’s tough to see a good church die. And some just want to keep the corpse around just to show it off. But it always gets to stinking things up.”
He stayed about an hour, and the time flew. He talked to me about faith in the dark valleys of life and how God will be there even when it’s the darkest when we are all alone. Things I knew as a minister of course, but need to be reminded of. During our time he walked over to the piano and played a church hymn that I had never heard before. It was beautiful and of an old style, but to this day the exact music eludes me. All I remember is being very comforted. Just before he left he told me to just be careful. There were going to be dark times up ahead, and even though I might loose those closest to me I’d have to rely on God’s grace. Even if I refused it, the love of God would always be with me. Especially when I was alone, he emphasized. He repeated that so many times I thought that he was having an emotional moment himself, but he never let a tear slip from those deep brown eyes. Finally he shook my hand and walked out the door, saying his ride was waiting for him.
After he left, I waited just a split second and then quickly followed after him to get his address or phone number. I opened the door. But he wasn’t there. In fact he was nowhere to be seen, and I had a panoramic view of a few miles in every direction. No Mr. Robertson to be seen and no vehicles on the straight road that the church was on. It didn’t feel spooky to me, it felt oddly comforting. Later that week I asked all of the older members of the church if they knew of this Jonas Robertson since he seemed to know everyone so well and the detailed history of the church. No one had ever heard of him.
But there were the little things that made me wonder as well as the mysterious disappearance and the fact that no one in the church knew about him but he knew so much about the church. It was his clothing. It was as if he had just stepped out of the turn of the last century. About the same time the church had been formed. His shoes especially, they were a shiny black loafer that I had never seen before. And the bowler hat he wore. Who wore bowlers in the 1990s? I briefly thought that perhaps it was an angelic visitation but just dismissed it as foolish coincidence and my overactive imagination.
But then the disasters he warned me of began to happen.
Within a month I was divorced and out of a job. The Christian and Missionary Alliance does not allow divorced ministers to serve in a church. So not only was I going through a devastating divorce but I was out of a job and to top it off since I lived at the parsonage I was soon to be homeless. I basically had no money since the church paid me in free will offerings. And that had become smaller and smaller over time until I was making little more than $25 a week.
Those same board members who wanted to choke me for wanting the country band to play in church came to pay me a visit when they found out about the news of the divorce. For almost an hour they stood in my driveway, yelling at me and blaming me for all the troubles in the church and throwing deeply cutting personal insults at me. A spirit controlled their words that day, but it was not God’s. For those of you who think that the judgmental spirit of that church as I described it previously was but a normal human disposition would have a slight change of heart if you could have heard what those ‘caring and compassionate Christians’ said to me that afternoon. In the lowest moment of my life, it was if the hounds of hell came to have a feast on my wounded spirit.
Even fellow Pastors who I counted as friends shunned me because now I was a ‘pariah’, a divorced Minister. I had a spiritual mentor who was a good friend for many years after my conversion and always called me by my first name. After I became a minister he always called me “Pastor Swope” instead. But a month after the divorce I met him at an evangelical meeting and he called me “Mr. Swope”. No first name friendly basis, no ‘Pastor’ even though I still held the title.
Those were dark times.
I never saw the events that led up to the divorce coming, and I never thought that I would have been abandoned by so many friends because I was going through a divorce. But I had been warned ever so subtly by Mr. Robertson.
And I remembered his encouragement. I held tight to my faith and grew through those dark nights of the soul. I did not like going through those times, but I was wiser and a more compassionate person in the end. I became a better minister of faith and understanding because of those black days. And whatever you may think I know in my heart that Jonas Robertson was a Messenger from God. An Angel. He was sent to warn me and encourage me, and prepare me for the tough road ahead.
Thank you Jonas! Wherever you are now.
I know the dude abides.
Sometimes Angels can come in simple human form to warn us or encourage us. Sometimes they stop us from making stupid mistakes and guide us.
That is the theme of my book just published, “Walking with Awanu”.
In this book we follow the life of a man at the end of his rope. He has lost his job and going bankrupt. He is about to lose his house and has lost the respect of his family. Thinking the world would be better without him, he tries to commit suicide. But this attempt is interrupted by a messenger from God.
Through the book the messenger teaches him five eternal principles to deepen his spiritual life, which in effect brings his life back in order with the Cosmos.
He begins to see a world that he never thought existed. A world of Spirit and wholeness.
We journey through his triumphs and failures; all the while the messenger Awanu stands with him and gives ancient wisdom to encourage his weary soul.
It's a book for those who consider themselves 'Spiritual' but not 'Religious'.
Here’s a link to the book if you’re interested. Just click on the book cover below or the Amazon link at the top right of this page:
“Walking with Awanu” is like a beginners guide to Spiritual Disciplines that is compatible with any faith or belief system. It incorporates what I have learned through Theological and
I hope it can help. If just one person is helped by my work, I am blessed beyond measure.
Anyway enough of this shameless self promotion!
Next time we will resume our normally scheduled programming with a strange paranormal Missionary story I have just received in the last month.
Until next time,