After my evening’s English teaching was finished around 8:30 PM, I was asked to be the last one out of the building and to lock up. But last night, when I set the automatic locking and alarm, it just didn’t work. The door didn’t lock. I was alone outside a building full of expensive equipment, located in the midst of a low income housing project in a high crime part of my city.
I phoned my boss to tell her what had happened. It went to voice mail. I looked around outside the building to see any familiar face from the school or the students. There was no one around except a tall African American stranger in his twenty’s, talking on his phone 10 yards away. I asked him if he lived in the housing complex or knew who was in charge. He was friendly but told me he didn’t. I basically was at a loss as to what to do. I felt I couldn’t just drive off and leave all within the building open to anyone who would wander in overnight.
I talked a bit more with the African-American guy, the only person anywhere around. At length he offered to phone the city emergency number. I ended up explaining things to the police. They told me they could notify police that patrolled that part of the city that there was a door opened. But beyond that there was nothing they could do. I was really on my own and it was getting later. I phoned my very elderly parents to tell them why I wasn’t there by now and about what had happened.
As it got later and later, I introduced myself to the guy who was still there and had made the call for me. He said his name was Dontre. I was counseling with him and asked what he thought would be any idea. So he said I could try to go to the housing complex office and see if anyone was there. I was getting desperate and I told him I could try that. Dontre said to walk about 50 yards one direction, then go to the far end of that parking lot, turn right and farther down that way was the office.
I headed out, 50 yards in the dark, left turn and another 70 yards, turn right and I as I walked on, I could see the office up ahead. Then I heard a voice.
“Hi Mark!” No, it wasn’t the audible voice of God. But over on a bench in the dark was one of the teachers who teach in the English school I work at. I nearly dropped my teeth. I went over to her as she was for some reason outside in the very late evening alone, on her cell phone. It turns out she lives there at the housing complex. She knew how to get hold of the maintenance guy in order to find some way to lock the building up.
She and I walked back to the unlocked door. I’d only been gone barely 5 minutes but when we got there, Dontre was no longer anywhere to be seen. He’d been there on his cell phone for around 45 minutes right there before that but then he was gone.
“Mark, is that all?! You call that a miracle?! That was just happenstance, a coincidence!”
Oh, yeah? If you’d seen this in a movie, you’d roll your eyes and say, “Sure, sure; that’s so totally unlikely that he’s going to meet up with a woman teacher from his school out in the parking lot 200 yards away from the building in a high crime part of town late at night!”
For me it was a real act of God and His love and providence. I was in a fix and felt torn between my responsibility to my parents and my responsibility to see that the building was locked up. So that was one heck of a “coincidence” that I’d run into one of the main teachers in the school in the late evening so far away from where I’d been. She was able to take over getting the maintenance crew there to safely lock up the school and I could drive home.
And it’s funny how Dontre just disappeared like that, no? Angels do that. OK, I’m not utterly sure he was an angel. But if not, he sure was used of God at that time to really be a help to me. At one point I asked Dontre, “So what do you think I should do?” He immediately answered, “You should think about your family, always put your family first.”
I am certain that the Lord miraculously led me last night to get out of a difficult and dangerous situation. As for Dontre, it’s like the Bible verse that says, “Don’t forget to show kindness to strangers for by doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13.2) And the whole event last night reminds me of another verse about angels. “The angel of the Lord encamps around them that fear God and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7)