This letter may be reproduced in full or in part by Ron Wagner in his history of Gleanings for the Hungry, a Youth with a Mission base. Mark Schaufler may reproduce it as he desires. I respectfully request no other reproductions without my written permission.
It’s funny, one would think if you saw angels the date would be stuck in your mind forever, but with the passing of time and all the events in one’s life, the day seems much less significant, and the overpowering event becomes much more important.
I have been to Gleanings For The Hungry several times. I have gone as both youth leader, and as a member of an adult team. This particular time I had come as part of a youth team from Lacey, Washington, under the leadership of Mark Schaufler. We had been there before, and we had a great team of kids with us as usual. We had worked in the line and also laying fruit out for a couple of days, so we had the fruit-stained fingers and sticky clothes that processing fruit creates. The day was near end, and after our nightly devotions in the recreation room, our entire group was getting ready to settle into the girls and boys dorms for a night of much needed rest.
As it happened, I was waiting for the girls to finish their showers and head to the dorm, so I was wandering to and fro visiting with them, and encouraging them to get settled in. The boys were also taking some time to get settled in their dorms. It was a very warm night; I can remember the smell of the sulfur from the sulfur houses and the sweet smell of the fruit still clinging to our t-shirts and shorts as we waited for our turns in the showers.
There were still several boys waiting outside the shower area, and I struck up a conversation with Zach Lucas, one of our teens who visited with everyone and was very well liked by all. Zach had a zeal for life and a real heart for God – he worked hard at Gleanings, and usually had the biggest smile as we worked as a group. Our goal this year was to fill a semi-truck trailer with those white five-gallon buckets of dried fruit. We were well on our way to accomplishing our goal.
Zach and I were talking about how warm it was and how satisfying it was to see the rows and rows of pallets laden with fruit laying stretched out in the fields. We had worked together for quite a while that day unloading fruit trays onto the field, and were feeling pretty great about how much all our team had processed. We walked out towards the edge of the concrete slab next to the sulfur houses and looked out over the field.
Suddenly Zach stopped talking and his jaw dropped open. He pointed over my shoulder towards the field behind me and a look of fear and delight all mixed together came over his face. He began to sort of hop about, never taking his eyes off the field behind me. To tell you the truth I was a bit fearful at that point! I thought Zach had breathed in a bit too much sulfur!
Zach said “Look, Look, LOOK! Do you see what I see? Is it real? Look at that!”
I thought to myself, “My goodness, what is he so scared of?” and I was very reluctant to turn around. “Zach,” I said, “What is it? What is wrong? Zach? Zach? Zach, STOP! What IS it?” But Zach was speechless, he just kept pointing and he began to laugh, but there were tears rolling down his cheeks.
My heart was beating wildly with fear, but I forced myself to turn and look at the field. Since we were in the light cast by the building’s floodlights, it took a moment for my eyes to focus. Zach reached out and took my forearm, continuing to jump, laugh and cry all the while. We were far enough from the shower house then that no one else was really paying attention to us, and they were continuing to head for their dorm rooms. It felt like we were on a deserted island and only we were there, yet only a few yards from us there were two dorms buzzing with our friends!
As my eyes focused on the far end of the field, I rubbed them a little. Zach kept asking me, “Do you see that?” I thought at first that it was some kind of low fog out there. But there seemed to be some kind of form to the fog. I stepped a bit closer to the edge of the concrete and looked across the field from one end to the other at the fruit, and noticed again; something seemed to tell me something/someone was there. I turned and looked at Zach, then looked back at the field.
It was as if someone cleared my vision, like when you wipe a mirror with a soft cloth after it’s been fogged up. I saw then what Zach had been looking at. There were angles in the field.
They stood side by side, and while they were not like looking at flesh and blood, they were clearly there. To me they looked maybe 8-10 feet tall. They stood with a spear in one hand, elbows bent and hands nearly touching their middles, shoulder to shoulder, well more like elbow to elbow. Their feet were shoulder width apart and I got the distinct feeling they were well planted right where they were. They had no “face”, yet I knew they were facing me. They had on pointed-top helmets, and their chests had a shield-like appearance. The biggest impression I got from what I saw was incredible strength and protection, but I did not fell threatened in any way by what I saw. I began to cry and laugh like Zach and looked at him in total disbelief. “Do you see it Cheryl? Do you see it?” Zach cried. I nodded my head and turned back to see the angels again.
It was then that I noticed they encircled the field and I knew immediately that they circled the entire compound. How I knew it I do not know, but I was instantly sure of it. Zach still had my arm, and I pulled it away and grasped his arm then.
I began singing one of my favorite choruses, “This is Holy ground, we’re standing on Holy ground…” and Zach piped in with me. Then we went right on to sing “We are standing on standing Holy ground, and I know that there are angels all round…” Somehow it felt like it was exactly what we were supposed to do at exactly that moment.
I did not want to move, nor did Zach, but we kept telling each other, “We need to go get Pastor Mark” and I am not sure about how Zach felt, but I had enough fear in me I didn’t want him to leave me and go get Mark, and I didn’t want to leave him to go either! Mostly I was afraid that if we left, we’d never see those angels again. I am not really sure how long we were out there looking at the angels, but I would guess close to an hour. Zach kept laughing and crying, and so did I. We’d start to back away towards the buildings but then go back to the edge of the concrete.
Finally we stepped back and talked. “I’m going to go get Mark!” Zach said. I knew by now that Zach and I were probably the only two left awake, and I could only image the uproar we would create if we started waking people up to talk about seeing angels, so I told him to wait until morning. I thought to myself – “I hope Mark won’t be mad at me for not waking him, but I am hardly believing this myself!” We walked towards the dorms, then walked back out to the edge of the concrete again, I couldn’t see the angels anymore, but I knew in my heart they were still there.
Zach looked across the field, and seeing nothing either, said, “Did I imagine all that? Was I just looking at the trees out there and seeing things in a weird light?”
I thought for a moment, “Well, I THOUGHT I saw angels, but maybe I didn’t.” But inside I knew that what I saw was real and it was definitely out there. “No Zach, you did not imagine it. We saw angels!”
We stood there looking for a few more minutes in silent awe. (I am only now realizing, all these years later, that Zach and I never talked with each other what the angels looked like. I wonder if he saw the same shapes that I did?)
“Zach,” I said, “we have got to go to bed. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow!” We went to our separate areas, and I crawled onto my bunk, un-showered and sticky with fruit, and laid there and thought of what I had just experienced. I thought of something I’d heard several times…..angels appeared over and over as recorded in the Bible, and they almost always said “Be not afraid” or “Fear not!” I understood why they said that now.
It took a long time to calm myself and drift off to sleep. I laid there for a very long time, half-expecting a troop of angels to come dancing through the dorm at any moment, but finally fell into a deep sleep.
The morning arrived sunny and warm, and I was only up a few moments when Mark came to me and asked me to tell him what I had seen the night before. Zach had told him and he wanted to know what I saw. I relayed to Mark what I saw, and he got the biggest grin and joy filled his face. He went to see Wally Wenge (sp).
A short time later Mark returned to me and shared with me what happened when he shared my and Zach’s story with Wally. As I remember it, Wally told Mark that there had been a person at Gleanings who had been causing a division within the staff to the point of him having to ask the person to leave Gleanings. As the staff, they had been meeting and praying for God to heal their hurts and restore their unity, and “to place a hedge of angels around the compound” as they worked to repair the closeness of their staff. Our vision was confirmation for them.
Our vision of the angles blessed Zach and I. For me, it confirmed that God is real and He loves all of us enough to meet our needs. For the staff of Gleanings for the Hungry, it confirmed God was in their mist and answering their prayers.
Needless to say, that night there were 75+ students and leaders standing at the edge of that concrete at bedtime, but God had already completed what He wanted to accomplish for the staff at Gleanings for the Hungry. They knew He is with them.
I’ve made some bad choices in my life since seeing the angels, and I have grieved God, yet He still loves me and He has restored me to the ministry I love most. Zach, I hear, is in full-time ministry, and Mark has since traveled world-wide as an evangelist and writer. Gleanings will always hold a very special place in my heart, and I am thankful the blessings I’ve received while there. I know God uses this ministry world-wide and I am thankful to have been a worker in the field.
And, oh yes….. I believe in angels