Excerpt from The Proselytizer

It was a breezy spring afternoon in the coastal city of Chania, island of Crete, and the year was 1956. My teenage son Demetrios and I had just finished getting the church sanctuary ready for the Sunday morning service and it was now time to walk back home.

      As we stepped outside, we greeted a man who was sitting in front of a small cafe right across the cobblestone alley from our church entrance. Agathangelos, notorious for his war exploits, feuds, and vendettas, nodded warily.

      Moments later, Demetrios and I were turning the corner at the end of the block when we heard the distinctive sound of Agathangelos’ footsteps. Looking back, we saw Agathangelos some thirty yards away following us with a limp—an unfailing reminder of his war injury.

      Farther along, as Demetrios and I were engaged in the discussion of a passage of scripture, we looked over our shoulders again. Grim-faced, Agathangelos was steadily gaining on us, and Demetrios warned me that the man appeared to be carrying a weapon under his belt—it turned out to be a hatchet.

      Moments later I stopped to face Demetrios—as I habitually did during “walking Bible discussions”—in order to emphasize a point. Agathangelos, now less than twenty yards from us, froze in his steps.

      As we resumed walking, we looked back once more to see whether Agathangelos was still following us, only to witness a most peculiar sight: not only was Agathangelos not following us, but he was hobbling like mad in the opposite direction as if pursuers were at his heels. Demetrios and I reckoned this to be God’s intervention.

      Following the Sunday morning service the next day, Agathangelos came to our church to find me.

      “Please, reverend Zachariou,” he said to me on his knees, “do not let those giants hurt me—”

      “What giants?” I said, as I helped Agathangelos to his feet.

      “Those two big giants that came to join you when you stopped—remember?”

      “Oh, those giants!” I said, as I marveled at God’s angelic protection.

      “Yes, reverend Zachariou, they suddenly turned around and—and they came after me. It wasn’t my idea, you know,” Agathangelos said as he confessed that he had been instructed to harm me. But as I explained to Agathangelos, God had sent his angels to protect us; and that they would not hurt him as long as he asked God to forgive him.

      And so it turned out that, through God’s intervention, the man who hours earlier had sought to harm me was now letting me lead him in a prayer for the forgiveness of his sins.

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