Angels Unawares?

I’ll just tell you what happened and you can decide what to do with it.

Doctor Jim is my dentist, but he looks like a weight lifter. He married the campus beauty, Celeste, right out of college, and they are the parents of two outstanding children. Their youngest, Eve, will turn four in a couple of days. This story is about her.

A couple of weeks ago, Celeste’s grandmother died at the age of 86. A photo of her on Celeste’s office desk shows a lovely white-haired lady with the two grandchildren adoring and being adored. Prior to her death, Celeste spent a lot of time ministering to her, and Dr. Jim was back and forth across the state with the children. A few days after the funeral, the three-year-old Eve said something that stunned Celeste.

“Mommy, I saw Aunt Barbara.”

“No, honey,” said the mother. “You saw Aunt Wanda, grandmother’s sister.”

“No, I saw Aunt Barbara. Bar-BRA!” As only a small child can emphasize it.

Celeste’s aunt Barbara, one of her favorite people, died when Celeste was twelve. She has never mentioned her to her child. So, this was puzzling.

“When did you see Aunt Barbara, honey?”

“I saw her in Grandmother’s room, standing by the bed.”

“What was she doing?”

“She wasn’t doing anything. Just holding her hand.”

Then Celeste said, “What did Aunt Barbara look like?”

“She had long blonde hair.”

Not only had Celeste never mentioned her aunt to the child, Dr. Jim says she had never even told him the beloved relative had long blonde hair.

“Honey, how did you know it was Aunt Barbara?”

As only a three-year-old can do, Eve said, “I don’t want to talk about it any more.” And that was that.

My longtime friend Ann Allen tells me this one. Recently, our mutual friend Holly and her husband and three children went to Mobile to visit her inlaws. While there, grandpa wanted to take them all sailing. Holly thought it was too windy, but the men assured her everything was fine. Grandma kept the one-year-old, but the other two (twin boys, age four) excitedly went along.

At the dock, Holly’s husband asked his father if there were not too many people for the small boat–a sister and her boyfriend were also along. “Everything is fine,” he said.

On the river, before they made it to the bay, the person at the wheel turned the boat sharply and it capsized, flipping everyone into the water. Fortunately, the four-year-olds were wearing life jackets, but the adults were not.

The whole group was in the water a half hour before another boat happened by. They took the party to shore and from there, they rushed to the hospital. In the emergency room, the twins each had body temperatures of 85 degrees. The boys were not traumatized, and Holly thinks the cold water might have helped with that. It was she who was scared, particularly that little Caroline might be orphaned. She prayed fervently the whole time.

Several days later, Ian, one of the twins, said, “Mama, do you remember the angels?” She asked what he was talking about. “The angels in the boat.” Again, she asked what in the world he meant. He said, “Mama, don’t you remember the angels on the boat that came to get us when we were in the water? They were right there, Mama, on the boat.”

Ann adds, “Guess that boat didn’t just ‘happen along’ after all.”

Is it only small children who see angels?

Ron Satterwhite is the new pastor of a church outside Jayess, Mississippi. He and his wife have a daughter, Amber, who was featured in the Florida Baptist Witness a couple of years ago, and that’s how we came to know each other. I wrote to them, and later they moved to New Orleans where Ron finished his seminary degree.

Amber had had convulsions all her life, but at that time, she had one that would not turn her loose. In the Intensive Care Unit at the Spartanburg hospital, where they were living and pastoring at the time, the doctors prepared the family either for her death or for a Terry-Shiavo-type existence. Ron, his wife, and their son Jason lived at the hospital for many days.

One day when Jason was staying in the ICU room with Amber, he decided to walk down the hall for a coke. That’s where he met Joy, a volunteer with the hospital who noticed he seemed burdened and asked what was troubling him. After hearing about his sister, Joy said, “Would you like me to go with you and pray for her?”

In the room, Joy and Jason held hands and she offered up a prayer for Amber. Before she left, she handed Jason a ten dollar bill.

A little while later, as Amber began to stir, the parents arrived. Jason told them about the lady named Joy who had come in and prayed and given him ten dollars. As Amber continued improving, they began to seek out this marvelous hospital volunteer whose prayer God was surely answering.

“We have no volunteer by that name,” the hospital told them. Even after searching their files, the officials could find no hospital worker or volunteer by that name. And they never saw her again.

Somehow, it sure seems fitting for an angel to be named Joy, doesn’t it.

I have drawn no conclusions from any of these stories, but leave it for you. Those who read this article on our website ( will be interested to read your thoughts and conclusions and I hope you will feel free to leave them there.

I will say this: there is more that goes on in this world–seen and unseen–than any of us realize. And the spirit world is not “way out yonder somewhere,” but right next to us.

My standard for interpreting these and other similar angel-appearance-events is always the Word of God. As Paul said in Galatians 1, “Even though an angel of the Lord (says something other than what is in the word)…let him be accursed.”

If you have a similar story, please leave it with us at the end of this article on our website.

18 thoughts on “Angels Unawares?

  1. God sometimes choses to reveal himself to us in ways that are unique. Oftimes we are not sensitive to see or hear him speak. If Jesus can appear to his disciples in different ways after his ascesion then he can do so in simiar ways today. God bless you.

  2. We had a similar experience as the boat one. It was 7 years ago, my youngest child was one month old and we went out in our boat with two friends. We got out in the middle of Lake Houston and our boat wouldn

  3. Hello Joe! I thoroughly enjoyed your piece on names and name changing. I especially liked the last part. Thanks!

    The young woman you and Margaret met a few years ago whose name was Auburn and who had sisters named T’lane and Cornell. My parents knew their parents. Her mother was a native of Tangiphoa Parish and Amite. I remember as a child they would come to Amite to visit relatives, they traveled in a school bus convert into a mobile home. During the summers they would travel all over the country in this bus. I never knew any of them but do remember seeing the bus numerous times when they came to Amite.

  4. I,too, believe in angelic appearances. I personally have had at least two.

    One in the ICU in Little Rock after brain tumor surgery. I awoke and he was sitting at the foot of my bed.

    I believe the angel was evidence of the prayers and the struggle for life that had just taken place. I had a moment in time when I was aware of a spiritual dilemma regarding my life or death over which I had no control. I remember clearly weighing the possiblities of staying with my family or going to be with the Lord, but having no control or choice in the matter; just wondering how it was going to turn out. Then I became aware once the struggle was over and that I was going to stay on earth. After that is when I awoke to find the angel on my bed.

    We communicated without words. It went like this:

    “MY, you look so tired!” I said. “Yes, I am. It has been a very hard battle.”

    “Here, let me move my feet. Sit there and rest a while.”

    “Thank you, I will.”

    He remained until the nurse came into my room.

    The second angelic appearance happened after I prayed silently for an angel when a girlfriend and I had a flat tire in a rainstorm in New Orleans. We managed to pull into a parking garage when suddenly, w/o sound, a man appeared grinning from ear to ear asking if he could change our tire before we could even open the trunk. Cathy and I were so startled we were speechless. He had to repeat himself. After changing our tire and refusing payment, he silently began to walk away. Then an old white van conveniently came through the front gate of the garage, picked him up and kept going. I remember thinking, I didn’t know an angel would be a guy in ragged jeans, long hair and earring and a radiant smile.

    And, no, there were no cell phones involved.

    Our youngest son fell into a ditch at such an angle at age 2 that I was convinced we would be dealing with a broken neck. When I asked “Daniel, are you sure you are not hurt?” he replied,”No! An angel caught me, Mommie!”

    I think he personally had a legion of angels protecting him througout his life. I have often wondered if any of them were ever tempted to resign their commission, he was so accident prone.

    Thanks, Joe, for your weekly inspiration. We look forward to it.

    Mary and Steve

  5. Some years ago when our youngest daughter was four, now twenty-one, we visited the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe New Mexico. During our visit, she sat quietly in a pew near the front of the Chapel and remarked, “Mommy and Daddy, do you see the angels?” To this day, she remembers the angels and a few other sightings which we give Glory to God for her “vision”!

  6. This story is true. No names have been changed to protect the innocent. This senior adult trip was sponsored by the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans and included participants from 17 BAGNO churches.


    by Joy Shelton

    It was the ninth day of our trip and we were in the midst of a very hot Texas desert. The group of senior adults were on their way home from a trip to Senior Adult Conference and were planning to stay overnight in San Antonio before traveling home. Our trip had been plagued with bus problems from the start. Here in the middle of nowhere the bus slowed and rolled to a complete stop. The efforts of the driver to restart the bus were of no avail. As we looked at our surroundings there was not a house or building within sight and the traffic on the road was nil in each direction.

    Immediately the men and women began covering the windows with newspaper to keep out the scorching heat. The temperature continued to rise. As leader of the group, I went to the microphone and told the passengers,

  7. Our priest told a wonderful story a while back about angels. When he was in college he and his room mate and their girl friends were going on a picnic. The decided to try a new place someone had told them about that overlooked a beatiful lake. On the way they drove though an older neighborhood. They went past a house where they saw this little old lady struggling with a lawn mower. About 1/4 mile down the rode they stopped, looked at each other and decided they had to go back and help this lady. It was hot and the old lady was about to faint from the heat.

    They took over the mowing. The lady was all alone now that her husband had passed away some time back. They also trimmed her shrubs and generally raked up the yard. The lady made them ice tea and they shared their picnic lunch with her. As they were leaving she asked them for their names. Our priest name is John. His room mate was named Gabriel, the girls were named Mary and Ruth. The lady was fablergasted. She said “Oh my, are you angels?” They told her no, they were just regular people. John said it was the best picnic they had ever had.

    They went back about two weeks later intent on cutting her grass again. The house was locked and a neighbor saw them and asked what they wanted. They learned the lady had died about a week back. The neighbor had been away for some time but had come home just before the lady died. He said she was a dear person having known her for many years. He also said she could not stop talking about the angels that she said had cut her grass.

    Moral of the story. You might be an angel of the moment and not be aware of it yourself. This do unto others business is important. What we do unto others we do unto the Lord. Lets be careful out there.

  8. Dr. Joe,

    I am convinced that a friend of ours that passed away almost 2 years ago was visited by angels before he passed. He had cancer, which had spread to his brain so he was dilerious towards the end. Hospice told his wife he possibly only had 24 hours to live and they would be back in the morning. The next morning our friend told his wife he felt much better since the two nurses had come in and they told him he was going to be fine. So he told her not to worry any more since he was going to be okay. She told her husband that she had called the nurses and they were on the way but had not arrived yet. He adamently disagreed and told her they had already been there. He passed away within the hour before the nurses were able to get there. When he passed away, the wife told us that the front door blew wide open as if someone had come in to take her husband away. I think the angels (or “nurses”!) came to ease his pain and anxiety and to take him home. It was also such a comfort to his wife to know the “nurses” gave her husband a peaceful passing through the gates of heaven.

  9. I think you may be right, about children mostly seeing angels. Three of my 4 children (the youngest is just 2 and cant tell us about them yet) have told my wife and me about angels in their bedrooms that comfort them at night. Once, during a tornado on which my wife and then 3 kids found themselves right smack dab in the middle of, in their minivan, the oldest child calmly told my wife (I wasnt there, I was at work) that Jesus told him not to worry that they would all be safe. He said Jesus was right there with them (he say Him) and would protect them. And yes they escaped unscathed, even as debris, road signs and utility poles crashed around them. I always pay attention when the kids say the angels are right there and “dont you see them Daddy?”

  10. When I was seventeen, my father passed away from cancer. Even though I knew my father was in heaven, I was overcome with grief and was really struggling. A few weeks after his death, I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom crying. Suddenly my father appeared before my very eyes. I felt so much peace and comfort until it hit me that he was not suppose to be there. That very minute he disappeared into thin air. I fully believe that God allowed me to see my earthly father for comfort and reasurance that he was fine. I will never forget the complete peace and gratitude I felt to see Daddy one last time.

  11. Great stories in the Angels Unawares article. I serve in West Monroe, LA at First Baptist West Monroe. We lost probably the sweetest, kindest 17 year old young man in a tragic auto accident. He was traveling east on I-20, and a many driving about 100 miles an hour heading west lost control, began to flip, and the momentum put his vehicle into oncoming traffic. The vehicle landed right on Jason’s vehicle as he and his girlfriend innocently drove along.

    Our church staff was in Dallas at a restaurant, finishing up our meal as we got the call about Jason’s accident. The group I was with was 20 strong. We had arrived as a lively, laughing up ministry team with our spouses relaxing and having a great time. We left a broken group of folks filled with questions for God and each other.

    The group all left before me, so I paid the bill with my church credit card. The waiter brought back the card and bill for me to sign. What happened next just blew me away. He leaned down, and stared through my sould, as he spoke the words “I am going to pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will show his purposes to you all in this loss.”

    This was a man of about thirty, with wild eyes, a pierced ear, and a shaved head. His eyes just cut right through you. In that moment, though he became a ministering angel to me and the group. I find it interesting that this timely word was a word spoken by a servant – one who waits tables.

    I will never look at a waiter or waitress the same again. What a model of the compassion of Christ that young man was as he entered into our suffering.

    With the news of Jason’s death, we thought “Where are you, Lord?” Then with the words of that waiter, the Lord said “Right here, Dwight, right here.”

    God is good – all the time.

  12. Bro. Joe,

    As we drove by a cemetery one afternoon when my son John was 4 years old he asked if I knew what happened to your body when you died. I played along with him just to see where his 4 year old understanding was going with this. He sweetly said…your body goes into the ground but you soul goes to live with Jesus. I was floored! I asked him where he had learned this. He said he had heard it on a tape at daycare. Also during this same week, on several occasions, he would come running into the house asking me to tell lady with the white dress on to quit flying behind him. Little did I know that the Lord would call our 6 month old daughter home the very next week. Shortly after the funeral I shared John’s story with the daycare director and told her how thankful I was that he was able to hear that before my daughter’s death. The daycare director told me that he had not heard it there because they were state licensed and she could not play anything regarding religion at the daycare. I am convinced that the “flying lady” was an angel and that she was preparing John for the death of his sister by telling him the story of what happens to the body upon death.

  13. My sister told me about an incident related to her by her co-worker(Cynthia)in a public library.

    There was a patron who would bring his small son with him to the library. One day the wife, son, and daughter were involved in a horrible accident and the little boy was killed. The death was very hard on the father, and he kept trying to understand why this tragedy had happened. He told Cynthia that the morning of the accident, he was preparing his son’s breakfast and urging him to get dressed because he had to go to work. The son kept talking about the angel that was in his bedroom and wanted his father to come see. Otto, the father, dismissed the thought but said if there was time after breakfast they would go see the angel. That evening as the wife was driving home with the two children in the rear seat, she turned left in front of a vehicle which was moving too fast to allow her to make the turn safely. The impact struck the portion of the car where the little boy was sitting.

    When Otto related this story to Cynthia, he asked her what she thought about the angel story. She said her reply without even thinking was, “So he wouldn’t be afraid when the angel came to get him” She told my sister she had no idea where that comment had come from, but my sister said she did. She believed that message of comfort for Otto came straight to him from God through Cynthia.

  14. When my mother died, we gathered at my parent’s home in Mississippi. Two of my sisters had the same story to tell. My mother died about 4 AM. When their small children awoke the next morning, two of the little girls told their mothers that Grandma had come to their beds and kissed them during the night. My sisters were staying in different homes that night and each of two girls told their mothers that story as soon as they awoke.

  15. Stories of visitations by departed relatives and friends to folks who are dying are so common that the palliative care team at the University of Rochester Medical Center (Strong Memorial Hospital), use them as indicators that persons are near death. As a chaplain, I sat in on team meetings where sophisticated doctors and nurses would ask those assigned to a particular person if they (the patient) had experience any visitations. Often a dying person during the last few days, even weeks of their lives, will see and hear someone who has gone on before them. The presence of this person seems to always bring joy and reassurance to the dying person. I could share many stories of these kinds of visitations. Some medical people see these as brain phenomena produced by the chemical reaction in the person approaching death. I see these as gifts from God.

    In working with bereaved adults, I have heard stories of children encountering visitations around the time that someone they loved died — similar to the story that Joe shared.

    This year, I also heard a story about what may have been an angel visiting incognito. Debbie, a staff person here at Fairport Baptist Homes, where I serve as chaplain, shared this story with many of us this year. Her mother-in-law, who was dying at Strong Memorial Hospital, was extremely frightened. On one of her last days, Debbie was lying in bed with her holding her hand and praying silently for her. The sixth floor hospital room was full with several relatives. The group became fascinated with a window washer outside the room, standing on a harnessed pulley type platform. They all began to smile and wave at him. He smiled but looked around the crowd to the patient in the bed, Craning his neck so that he could see her. The group even began to laugh and even mime his cleaning movements, but he just smiled and continued to focus on the mother-in-law. Someone suggested that they

  16. We were having band practice on Wednesday night after prayer meeting when I heard someone pounding on the front door. Our church is located in a neighborhod known for crime so the door is kept locked after regular services.

    When I went to the door there was a well dressed, young African American woman looking through the glass. She was smiling and indicated she would like to come in. I opened the door and she asked if we were having church. I explained to her that prayer meeting was over and we were practicing music for our Sunday service. She insisted that she wanted to worship with us. I will never forget her exact words: “I want to come into your sanctuary”. I kept trying to convince her that we weren’t having a worship service, but she kept repeating that phrase as she looked intently into my eyes. I finally agreed and asked her name and where she lived. She told me her name and said she was staying “in the area”. I led her into the auditorium and introduced her to our band members who hadn’t heard our conversation.

    As we played the music we would sing Sunday, she sat on the second pew and sang every song. I noticed that she sang the words to the praise choruses from memory. She raised her hands and it was obvious that she was truly worshipping.

    About halfway through our rehearsal she stood up and walked to the piano where I was sitting. She quietly said, “I’m leaving now. The next time someone comes to your door please let him in. He may be a lost soul who needs your help”. I looked into her eyes and felt that she was no ordinary visitor. I took her hand in both of mine and held on, not wanting to let her go. As she left my eyes filled with tears and I felt that something strange and wonderful had just happened. For several weeks I looked for her on the streets, thinking I might catch a glimpse of her in our neighborhood. I never saw her again, and I believed that I had talked with an angel. I knew from scripture that if an angel had appeared to me God must have a message for me. I wondered what that message was. I searched my heart asking God if I was unwilling to open myself to needy strangers. The memory of that night still remains fresh in my mind. Since that night four years ago, I have pondered it many times and finally believe I know why she came.

    My husband has pastored our church for many years and one of our struggles has been to go out into our community and reach peoplefor Christ. Our members, including me, have been reluctant to walk the streets of our neighborhood where drug activity and drive-by shootings is not unusual.

    This spring the Lord laid it on the hearts of several of our members to “adopt” the blocks surrounding our church. We have been involved in prayer walking, cleaning up and ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of our neighbors. The Lord spoke to me about heading up the ministry and it has been a real joy in my life and in the lives of those who are committed to this ministry.

    Just the other day it occurred to me that we are doing just what the unusual visitor urged me to do – opening our hearts and our door to lost souls.

  17. I’ve always believed in angels. There are so many unexplained things happening all around us all the time. One of my favorate angel stories was told to me by a fellow church member. She has a granddaughter who was born with one arm deformed. It stops at about the elbow. But the little girl is very independent and wants to do everything her brother and sister do. When she was about 5, she was trying very hard to learn to tie her shoes, but with only one hand, she was having a great deal of trouble. One day, she was at her grandfather’s barber shop. While he worked, she was trying–over and over, but unsuccessfully–to tie her tennis shoes. A man walked into the barber shop. He saw the little girl struggling to tie her shoe. He sat down and said, “Would you like me to show you how to tie your shoe with one hand?” In just a few minutes, the man taught her how to tie her shoe using her only hand. The little girl was so excited! And then the man walked back out of the shop. When the grandfather went to the door to look for the man, no one was in sight in any direction. That family thoroughly believes that was an angel who was sent specifically to help their little granddaughter. When I heard their story, it confirmed the fact that God cares about even the smallest details and desires in our lives.

  18. Several years ago I was working as a substitute teacher in between regular jobs. I mostly worked in Special Ed in an innercity school in a large midsouth city.

    Christmas was a few days away, and the children at my table at lunch were excited about Santa. One young lady who had missed two years of school because of medical concerns stated that she “never did believe in Santa Clause.”

    “Do you believe in Angels?” I asked her.

    She said that she did, and told me about an earlier life-threatening event requiring surgury. “They said that I would be asleep, but I wasn’t. After they put the mask on my face two men angels came over to my bed and held my hands.” She paused, then asked, “do you think that means I am going to die soon?”

    I answered, saying, “I don’t know, but I believe they were there to comfort you. I believe they will always be there for you when you need them.”

    She looked at me quietly and said, “When it’s time I am not afraid. I hasn’t been a bad life.” This was from a young lady who rarely had a day free of pain and would spend her entire life in a wheelchair dependant on others for every basic need.

    The conversation at the table had moved to other matters, and we rejoined the others. When lunch was over and the children were returning to class, she looked at me and smiled.

    Clinically, I could discount her story as anesthesia-induced hallucinations. But my life would be so much less for that, and from faith and hope alone I choose to believe her, to believe in her.

    That was my encounter with an angel.

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