The man had a serious looking hunting knife strapped to his side.
My first church was in the heart of metropolitan Los Angeles in a borough called South Gate. The area could be considered inner city, and at times I wondered why God had a country boy like ministering in a place like South Gate, California.
I spent eight years at this church and during this tenure I seemed to encounter a lifetime of bizarre ministry experiences.
One Sunday in our evening service, I intended to interview a few church members about some of the things God was doing in their lives. During the music ministry time a man walked into the service and sat in the back row…at least that was the way it appeared to me from the front of the church. Later, after the dust settled I received the whole story from my Head Usher.
The man who entered the church looked a lot like “Mr. Clean”. He was tall, solidly built and as bald as a cue ball. He was also Anglo in ethnicity, which was a significant detail since our church and the whole area was made up of more than seventy-five percent minorities, mostly Latino. And of course, the fact he was Anglo was another reason that the man looked like the bald white guy on the cleaning commercials.
What I didn’t know was that when the man walked in, he passed by our Head Usher who immediately noticed a strong aroma of alcohol lingering about the visitor. As soon as our usher smelled this, he corralled the man, noticing that he was probably very inebriated, and said to him, “Hey brother, I have a seat for you right here beside me.” The man didn’t resist so he sat in the back row adjacent to where our Head Usher was standing.
Furthermore, Mr. Clean (what I have come to call him) had a very serious looking hunting knife strapped to his side. All of this concerned my usher and he kept a close eye on him.
When the music ministry time ended, I called forward the people I wanted to interview. I was fully captivated by the interview process so I was unaware of what was going on in the back row between my usher and Mr. Clean.
It seems that when I began the questions to my interviewees, Mr. Clean didn’t like some of my comments and he began to be vocal about it to my door keeper. He said, “Who does he think he is saying stuff like that?”
My usher said to him, “Take it easy brother. Calm down,” and moved closer to him to be sure he had him under better control.
A few sentences later into my interview Mr. Clean said, “Someone should go up there and shut that preacher up.”
My usher put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “You stay right here brother. You had better relax.”
Finally, at the moment my Head Attendant turned his head to address another issue, Mr. Clean stood up and began walking down the center aisle with his hand on the knife strapped to his side. My usher didn’t see him until he was halfway down the aisle
I was clueless. I was so engrossed in my interviews I never noticed any of it.
At the same instant that my usher saw the man moving toward the front, the man came to an abrupt stop, right in the middle of the church.
As my Head Usher described it; Mr. Clean was on full tilt toward the front of the church with his hand on his knife, when all at once he hit something. It was as though he walked into a clear three inch thick glass wall. When he hit the invisible wall, he halted, backed up as though he was stunned, turned around confused, walked back to his seat and sat down…completely compliant.
My usher told me, “Pastor, I think he ran into an angel. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen.”
I don’t know if Mr. Clean ran into an angel or not. But that is the explanation I am holding to. I consider it to be the time God’s angel came to my rescue. And it isn’t farfetched from biblical authority. Something similar happened in the Bible in Numbers 22:22-31.
Psalms 91:11-12 says, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
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