Atsu and the Angel: A Father’s House Story

Archangel Gabriel

This is Part of The Father’s House Stories


Here is a true story about a little boy and his encounter with an angel. The only parts I took license with to make it a better story where the parts about how his day started, and what he did before the meeting where he encountered the angel. The rest of it I was an eyewitness too.

Atsu and the Angel

Like all the boys in his village Atsu was small for his age. Malnutrition will do that. He and his mother were among the poorest in their village. They were always hungry.

He awoke that day like every day to the shouts of the fishermen and the heavy pounding of the surf. He knew the men in their dugout canoe were rowing hard against the waves, looping their net far out into the sea.

He rose and drank from the water pail, and hurried out to where the men were holding the long ropes of the net. The boss would let him help, and gave him some of the small fish if the catch was good. If he pulled all day he might even bring home a small bowl full of tiny fish.

Some of the men were always mean to him, and they laughed at him when he pulled hard on the rope. Atsu always tried to find a place away from one man who would cuff him or kick him away. Most of the older men knew he was trying hard to be a man, and were kinder to him.

He found a place to grab onto the rope, and settled into the chanting rhythm as they pulled against the tide.

He was happy that day. The church people would be coming to the big house they were building. That meant a big party with his friends, and lots of food. He liked Jeremiah, the young man who would tell them about Jesus. Later when his mother called him he ran to her. They started walking and his mother never had to tell him once to keep up. He was very hungry.

The houses they walked past were made of cement blocks with metal roofs. Most had one room. Some only had walls of woven palm leaves and roofs of palm fronds. All around the houses the sand was always swept clean by the woman inside. Beside every house there was an idol. They were made of concrete and had shells for eyes and teeth. Atsu was afraid of them.

He and his mother were taking the long way around. She did not want the voodoo priest to see where they where going. Everyone was afraid of him. He put curses on people and then bad things would happen, and he hated the church people.

They walked under the mango trees. He and the other boys had been beaten many times for sneaking  mangoes from the trees. They all belonged to the old lady in the village. Atsu was afraid of the man who watched the trees for her. All but the oldest boys would scream in pain if the watchman caught him. The mangoes were impossible to resist though, especially when their sweet smell filled the air. He was looking up into the trees as they walked under them but saw his mother watching him.

She laughed. “That’s right. You better look away! The whole village heard you screaming when the watchman caught you last time!”

Atsu’s mother was in a good mood too. Since she was a ten years old she could not remember anyone preparing food for her. Today they would have rice and the nice smoked fish that had lots of meat on them.  She had never eaten rice before, but the church people had it for them every Sunday. She liked the rice very much. She was an idol worshipper like everyone in the village. But she knew the god the church people told them stories about must be a good god.

Never before had white people come to their village. They were helping build the men build the big house. Atsu had watched it being built for a long time. Everyone talked about it.

Sometimes the voodoo priest would take all his witch people and march around the house singing to their god and putting curses on it, but nothing ever bad ever happened to them. Atsu believed this God they served must be very strong.

As they walked out of the trees they saw the big house. There were already many people there. There was no roof, but the walls were all up.  Mothers and children filled the courtyard in front. The men were on the beach holding the nets.

There were white men there that day. Two young men and one who might have been their father. There were white women too. Atsu always stared at the white people. They were helping Jeremiah and the others.. There were so many people there they were being divided into different rooms for their meeting. Atsu went with the older boys, but he was the smallest.

The room was big enough for all of the boys and seemed even bigger with the open sky above. There were not enough benches, so he and his friends stood around and talked. Even the teasing was friendly that day. The bigger boys would not be mean to Atsu on those days.

Jeremiah said the two young white men were named Paul and Russ. Paul began to pray. Some of the boys were still talking but Paul did not seem to mind. Atsu got into a corner and watched. When the young man lifted up his head he began to talk to them. Jeremiah interpreted. As the young white man spoke to them Atsu looked up at the sky. He felt very peaceful. He looked around the room and saw everyone listening to Paul and Jeremiah.

The young white man was telling them about Jesus and how the Holy Spirit was going to touch them that day.

Atsu began to wonder why there was golden light in the room. He looked up at the sky and then around the room. The air seemed to have light like someone had lit a fire somewhere. He wondered if it was something the white man brought brought with him. Then he saw a very tall man standing in front of him. Atsu had never seen a man like this. He looked like there was light inside him.

Atsu was afraid.

The glowing man held something in his hand. Atsu watched as the man stretched his hand out towards him. Atsu saw beautiful gold in the man’s hand. It looked like it was on fire. He did not know why the man was giving him this gold and watched as the hand went right into his chest. When it did, he felt a fire light inside of him, a good fire. He was suddenly homesick for a home he had never known.

Then the man was gone.

Atsu began to cry. He sat on the floor and hid his face in his arms as deep sobs shook him. He did not know what why he was crying.

He felt a big hand on his back and wondered if it was the shiny man again. He hoped it was.  This crying felt so good. So did the hand when it touched him. He sat for a long time and felt something so warm inside. He wondered about the shiny man with the gold. He had heard Jeremiah one time tell them a story about a shiny man. He said they were called angels. He did not move because he wanted the the hand to stay on him. Then he heard Jeremiah asking if anyone saw or heard anything from the Lord.. He sat and listened to some of his friends say they had Jesus talk to them. One of them saw a big white dove in the room.

Jeremiah squeezed his shoulder.

“Atsu. Can you tell us what happened? Why are you crying? Did you see something?” He opened his eyes and Jeremiah was kneeling in front of him. The other white man named Russ had his hand on his back. He wiped his eyes and nodded his head.

Jeremiah helped him stand up. “Come with me Atsu. I want you to tell Paul what happened”.

Atsu felt very small in front of Paul. He felt so shy he looked straight down at the floor. When he could speak he said “An angel came and put gold in my heart.”

The white man said something to Jeremiah.

“Ask the Holy Spirit why the angel put gold in your heart”.

Atsu didn’t really know who this Holy Spirit was, but he knew Jesus must be a good God. He closed his eyes and whispered to himself,  “Holy Spirit why did the angel put gold in my heart?”

The two men waited while he listened.

Inside himself Atsu heard “The gold is there so you can forgive those who have hurt you.”

Atsu felt the tears come again.  The men put their hands on his shoulders gently and waited for him. Their hands felt good too. When he was able to speak, he whispered in Jeremiah’s ear “He said the gold is there so I can forgive all the people who have hurt me.”

Jeremiah had tears in his eyes and laughed. He bent down and said, “Atsu. Jesus sent that angel to you. He is in charge of all the angels. He is a good, good God and he loves you very much.”

Atsu still could not look up. He watched his big tears going making a wet spot the floor. Paul and Jeremiah and Russ put their hands on him. They prayed and Atsu felt even more warmth fill his chest. He thought he might float up into the sky. He felt so much love. Even for the men who had hurt him.

Later his mother brought him his big bowl of rice and fish. He sat and watched everything around him happily. The two white men came and sat by him and his mother. He wished he could be with them all the time.

Later that night he lay on his mat and felt again the pounding of the surf far below on the beach. His chest felt warm and light inside. Quietly he whispered “Jesus is my God.”

And he was very happy.

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