Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Religion • Angels Unawares Everywhere

Often it is someone who has unexpectedly come and gone out of our lives. We later think, “Could it be?” Then at other times, there is no doubt that we received a visitation.

Angels are amongst us, some more subtly than others. Sometimes a later second look suggests the answer to the question. One man in particular verified that angels are amongst us. His life was never the same after his encounter.

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Dan Pappy Kerr (L) with Kokomo the Clown (R).
Kokomo the Clown is better known these days as Rev. Austin Miles.

Dan “Pappy” Kerr reigned in the circus world as a very beloved clown, not only to the audiences he appeared before, but also by his fellow clowns in ‘clown alley’, that special area backstage where the clowns congregate, dress and prepare. He was the ideal person to work with and to be around. His mood was always up, he never spoke bad about anybody, never complained, and could cheerfully adapt to any situation, He regularly went to church as the circus criss-crossed America and certainly lived a life consistent with his Christian teachings. There was no question that he loved The Lord.

One day someone mentioned to him how great it was to work with him since he was so easy going, so thoughtful and willing to help others. “I haven’t always been this way,” he responded.“In fact I had a pretty wild life…drinking…cussing…carousing…getting into fights..I was terrible.”
“What happened to make you change?”

Pappy pondered the question for a moment, then began to relate an amazing story;  “When I got out of the Navy, I went to work on the railroad. We were making a trip through a wooded area of North Carolina. A couple of us were up in the cab of the engine cutting up and laughing when we looked out and saw a black man wearing a white suit walking through the woods toward us, waving his hands for us to stop. He had white hair and a beard. The engineer began braking the train. We came to a halt just when the track began to curve.
“We got out of the train to go back where we saw the man and didn’t see him anywhere. We crossed the track to look on that side and he was nowhere to be found there either. So we walked to the front of the train to where the track curved, and as we rounded that curve, our blood froze. Right there was a trestle that had crashed down into the ravine, the one we were due to cross in a couple of seconds. Had we kept going, we would have have been killed.

“We got back in the cab to radio for help. Everybody was extra somber as we thought about the fate that awaited us which was thwarted due to the intervention of an angel sent by God. We had no doubt that this man was indeed an angel. I never said another curse word from that point on, started going to church and pledged to walk with Jesus for the rest of my life.”  And he did.

How many readers have been touched by an angel in some way? Think back on your life. It may have happened more than you realize.
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Dan “Pappy” Kerr was once spotlighted in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for inventing the meatless hamburger during World War Two when he served in the United States Navy and meat was scarce. He made it out of oatmeal and it tasted like the real thing. That was the inspiration for the Veggieburger that is popular today. Pappy went home to The Lord several years ago.
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