Remember to entertain strangers. By being hospitable…we may entertain angels without knowing it.  You and I have read that message many times while studying Scripture.  Obviously, angels may appear in many forms; such as a person speaking into our lives; maybe a near accident that was avoided in a split second.  I’m confident you can recall when someone or something happened in your life…and afterwards…it became clear that God’s angel had intervened.

With this article, I would like to share my first (to my knowledge) encounter with an angel. I believe there have been many others that I did not recognize at the time.

However, my “first” known encounter with an angel was in 1965 when I was in Chattanooga headed to Atlanta. The following is some background.

I was 17 and determined to be a radio announcer.  Keep in mind that I was probably the most bashful young man in the world at that time. Imagine wanting to be a radio announcer…however, I knew there was a person inside me who wanted to talk, share conversations and participate in normal interaction with others.

I wrote in a previous article how my goal was set at the age of six…and for 11-years I practiced to be a radio announcer…too bashful to tell anyone except Mother and my first grade school teacher, Mrs. Alice Foster. Back then, an aspiring DJ had to have a Third-Class License to operate the station equipment. I was promised a job if I got a license.

I grew up in Smithville, Tennessee…and for my entire life until 17 had never ventured beyond a seven-county area; never outside the Volunteer State. But, being determined to get a job in radio (a mail-in application was not an option) it meant passing an in person test with the Federal Communications Commission.

I recall purchasing a roundtrip bus ticket on a Monday afternoon from Smithville to Atlanta for $29.50. There was one hitch. There was to be a layover in Chattanooga for two-hours before heading further south.  That ordinarily would be a simple task…but not for me…a shy, bashful kid.

Time passed slowly inside the Trailway bus station. Those two hours seemed like an eternity. Whether my nerves played tricks on me…or the intercom system was muffled…I don’t know…but finally I approached the clerk and softly asked, “When will the bus for Atlanta leave?”

The lady snapped, “That bus departed 30 minutes ago.” She must have seen the tears welling up in my yes…because she told me to show my ticket. She stamped it…and told me to walk to the Greyhound station a few blocks away and it would be honored.

Chattanooga was as large as New York City in my eyes as I headed out the door trying to remember her instructions. Apparently, I must have walked in circles. The Greyhound station was nowhere to be found. 

I had heard that in the big cities panhandlers walked the streets trying to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers. So, I was on guard. I prayed, “Lord, please help me. I’m lost in this big city. I need a miracle.” Seemingly from out of nowhere, a shabbily dressed man appeared begging for money to get a hot meal. 

Afraid to open my wallet in front of him, I promised to help if he would tell how to find the Greyhound station. Not only did he tell me…but walked me to the front door. Quickly I pulled a bill from my wallet, I think it was a $5…and handed it over. I mumbled a thank you…glanced at the door…and then turned back around to give a better “thank you”…but he was not in sight.  I knew The Lord had answered my prayer. He was an angel; not how I thought an angel should be. 

Made it to Atlanta; sat in the bus station until 8 o’clock the next morning; quickly washed my face and headed out the door. I had always been told that when in a big city…get a taxi. There was one parked in front of the building. I approached and asked if he would drive me to the FCC Headquarters in the Merchandise Mart on Peachtree Street.

The taxi driver said, “It is right over there. Have you ever ridden in a taxi?” Of course my answer was NO. He said, “Get in…I’ll drive you where you can have the experience.”

I walked into the Merchandise Mart and announced to the elevator operator (they were manned back then) that I was headed to the FCC Headquarters. They were expecting me (16th floor if I recall correctly). Riding an elevator was also another first.

I took the test; was told I would receive the results in about two-weeks. Sure enough, the letter arrived. I cried when reading the results. I had aced it. The next day, I went to WJLE Radio and showed station manager Tony Glenn my good news. As promised, I got a job working odd hours that other employees didn’t want.  But, I began living a dream that lasted for the next 21 years.

I trust that my simple story will cause you to reminisce about when an angel (unaware at the time)…rescued you. Thank The Lord right now for His love and grace and for His angels.

Ralph E. Vaughn

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