I am a Baptist pastor- we don't tell many stories like this, or if we had them, we keep them to ourselves. My story is basically very simple. I was in church praying, presumably all alone, when a middle-aged man strolled in with a thick Irish accent asking if I knew a certain person. He startled me because I did not hear him come into the building even though all the doors were locked. I can usually hear if anyone is walking around. I did not think my prayer was so intense that I blocked out the sound. Anyway, this man is standing by me. He is friendly and then addresses me by name. "How is it that you know my name?" I said, incredulously. "I know we've never met before." "Ah, but we have. But no matter. It's alright lad you needn't be afraid of me. I've known you, your father, your grandfather; in fact I've known your family back for generations. Since the 1700's. "What? What are you talking about?" by this time I am starting to get angry, thinking this guy is deranged, or drunk, or both. "that's right."

"If that's the case, then who was my father and where was he born?" I tested him, half expecting him to fumble with that one for a while. When strange Irishman named my dad, it sent a chill down my spine because my father was born in Ireland though he never remembered it because he came to America as a small child. I never met my grandfather- died when my dad was young. "Lemme see now. You dad was born in Ennis County Claire, as his father before him." "This is weird," I said. "How could you have known my grandfather. He died back in the 1930's of a heart attack. There's barely anyone alive now who remembers him in my family." "True, how true."

"So why are you here and who might you be?" I asked, still half angry at this character for the intrusion and for the mysteriousness. I thought I might be having a vision or in a trance of some kind. "Son I've looked after your family for generations. I've kept them out of trouble when they've listened to me. I've helped them when they needed it. I've shielded them from danger when I could or when they would let me. When it was time for them to go I take them back." He began to tell me how my family came to be from a progeniture who was fathered by an English aristocrat on a large estate. The mother, a domestic servant, was driven away when it was learned that she was pregnant. When the baby came, she married a soldier to keep a roof over their heads. On and on the story went, til my grandfather's time. How he fought and was nearly killed in the 1916 uprising, going into hiding and meeting my grandmother (he was 30 years older) finally leaving the country and coming to America, and settling down. The couple had my uncle and then my father. Then he died. "So, have you come to take me?" I asked. "If you have, I'm ready!" "No, not today. It will be a while yet."

I never asked him if he was an angel. I was half afraid of the truth or perhaps, a worse revelation. "You son need to keep looking to the Lord by faith. Your'e starting to lose faith in Him and trusting more in yourself everyday. I've seen it. I'm very disappointed. Yet you do wonderful things for God, and other people. People love you, yet you do not trust them, why?" "How do you know these things?" I asked bitterly. "Go mind your own business and leave me be." "Ah, but it is my business, Jeff. You are such a fearful and insecure person. Why is it that you fear so many things." "Its true. Probably because people have done some pretty rotten things to me. They've hurt me so bad." "Yes, and the more you focus on them, the less you trust in God."

Then the man went away and I haven't seen him since. But I have often thought of the encounter. He never told me his name. How I wish he would come back. I feel guilty for the way I treated him. Well, that's my story. Pretty weird, huh? Was this an angel .. a guardian angel looking over my family? Jeff