Me: Hi Prodigal what are you standing beside today?
Prodigal: It is my sand alligator. Do you like it?
Me: I love it! It seems to be guarding you or about to eat you?
Prodigal: It is guarding me so don’t worry about me, this alligator doesn’t like pork.
Me: I do have a story about guardians, do you want to hear it?
Prodigal: Of course I do, I am all ears!
In 1980, 25 year old Dave Carr of Bangor, Maine, started to feel one of those inner urges that defy logic and reason. He had a strong impulse to open a gathering place for the homeless or people down on their luck. “I thought of providing them with a soft drink or coffee and something to eat, along with a hug and some words of encouragement.” Dave says. “Most important, I wanted them to learn about the Bible, and hopefully to accept Jesus into their hearts.”
This “heavenly nudge” grew stronger over the next several years. But Dave argued with it. How could he open such a place? True, he had always lived a life of service and had helped on similar projects through the church. But he was a truck driver, not a minister or psychologist, and he had a young family to support, with nothing left over for rent on a drop-in center. The whole idea was impossible. But Dave continued to think about it. Street people led hard lives, he knew, not only were they hungry and often cold in Maine’s hard climate, they were vulnerable to threats from those stronger than they. Recently a man had been murdered in the middle of the night and thrown over the bridge into the Penobscot River. The police had not found his attackers. And without some kind of safe oasis, Dave thought, such a thing was sure to happen again.
Finally Dave drove to downtown Bangor about 10:00 one September evening. It wouldn’t hurt to at least look at possible sites. “I need nighttime hours to think quietly, and I thought it would be easier to check out storefronts without being distracted by traffic,” he says. He parked and walked through the neighborhoods, looking at abandoned buildings. Some possibilities, but nothing definite.
At 1:00 am Dave was ready to call it quits. But he hadn’t investigated Brewer yet, the city that lies across the Penobscot River from Bangor. He would look at a few sites there, then head home.
The street was deserted as Dave started walking up the bridge. Then a car approached from Brewer. As its headlights caught him, the car slowed. Uneasily Dave realized that there were three men inside. Despite the cool night air, their windows were rolled down. “Let’s throw him over!” Dave heard one of them say. The car stopped, its doors opened, and all three jumped out and came toward him.
Horrified, Dave suddenly recalled the murder of the street person. It had been on this bridge! Had these men done it? He would be no match for them, he knew his only option was to pray that he survived the icy water. But as he looked down, he realized that the tide had gone out, and only rocks and dirt were directly below him. “God, help me,” Dave murmured.
Immediately he felt a presence near him, something unseen but definitely there. A warm safe feeling flooded him. His fear vanished, and knew, without knowing quite how he knew, that he was not alone.
Now the men were almost upon Dave. All three were large, muscular-and leering. “Get him!” one shouted.
Suddenly they stopped. “They all stared at me, then looked to the right and left of me,” Dave says. “They seemed terrified. One said, “Oh, my God!” They turned and began shoving one another to get back to the car.
And when they sped away-it sounded like they tore the transmission right out-I could still hear them cursing and yelling, “Run, run!”
Dave stood for a moment on the deserted bridge, basking in the warmth that still surrounded him. What was it? What had the men seen? Whatever it was, it had shielded him from certain death. “Thank you, God,” he whispered.
He felt exalted, so buoyant that he decided to go on to Brewer and finish his search. As he crossed the rest of the bridge, Danny, a friend of his, drove by, honked at him, and kept going, unmindful by Dave’s narrow escape. Dave waved, still surrounded by peace.
A while later, Dave came across some derelicts standing on a Brewer street corner. But as he approached, they all fell back.
One put his hands over his eyes. “You’re shining!” he whispered. “It hurts to look!”
“I can feel the Holy Spirit all around you!” said another, as he inched away.
Dave was awed. It was heaven’s glow surrounding him, it had to be! But he wasn’t absolutely positive until the next day, when he ran into Danny again.
“Sorry I didn’t stop for you last night on the bridge,” Danny said, “But I had passengers and I never could have fit all of you in my car, too.”
“All of us?” Dave asked, puzzled.
“Those three huge guys walking with you,” Danny explained. “They were the biggest people I had ever seen. One must have been at least seven feet tall!”
Dave never resisted a heavenly nudge again. He opened and funded a Bangor coffeehouse in 1986, which is still running today under a friend’s management. At least 100 people are fed every night, with coffee, hugs–and the word of the Lord. Written by Joan Wester Anderson.
The thing I like about this story is all the people that are involved to this account. The men who wanted to hurt him, saw something and ran to the car. The derelicts on the corner could not look at him. Danny saw three guys walking beside him. Finally Dave felt the presence of God without knowing all the details. This story is truly amazing because it could have stopped with just one sighting. The Lord really can protect us. If you believe the Lord can really protect you…how would this change our fears, anxiety in our daily walk. Just imagine that?
2Samuel 22:3-4 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. 4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
Jennifer Van Allen