One of the great encouragers in my life is Diane Mitchell who was born and reared in Fort Payne, which also happens to be the hometown of the popular musical group, “Alabama.” Diane’s sister serves as the attorney for Randy Owen, their lead singer.  Knowing of my great love for country music, Diane recently showed up at the front door of our home with a gift package from Randy Owen, containing all of his recordings and his autographed picture. In light of this, I have gained a new appreciation for his lyrics in “Angels Among Us.”

“I was walkin’ home from school on a cold winter day. Took a shortcut through the woods and I lost my way.

It was gettin’ late, and I was scared and alone. Then a kind old man took my hand and led me home.

Mama couldn’t see him, but he was standing there. And I knew in my heart that he was the answer to my prayer.

When life had troubled times and had me down on my knees, there’s always been someone to come along

and comfort me,  a kind word from a stranger, to lend a helping hand, a phone call from a friend, just to say, ‘I

understand.’ Now, ain’t it kind of funny at the dark end of the road, someone lights the way with just a single

ray of hope. Oh, I believe that there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come

to you and me in our darkest hours to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the light of love.”

Like Randy Owen sings so beautifully, I, too, believe that there are “angels among us.” Down through the years, I have discovered that even seminary students can get scared and face the darkest of hours. These dark days may come when they find themselves nine hours away from home and their funds are exhausted. Dark days, also, may come to them when they experience unexpected emergencies as their children are hospitalized resulting in unanticipated expenses. Dark days come for a few of our students, even at Christmastime, when they would love to come home for Christmas, but they cannot get away from their much needed part-time jobs. Yet, in the midst of their darkness, the light of Christ always shines the brightest. [caption id="attachment_2338" align="alignright" width="300"]Dr. and Mrs. Karl K. Stegall Brenda and Karl Stegall[/caption] God’s timing is always perfect! I receive in the mail a surprising check from a small rural church, or a Sunday School class in a county-seat town, or a mission committee in a large membership church, or some generous individual. There are notes attached to these checks that say in various and sundry ways, “We just wanted to help ease the burden and make a difference in the life of a seminary student.” With each of these unanticipated gifts that come our way, I always pause and say a prayer of thanks for each donor, being reminded that there are still “angels among us” to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, and to guide us with the light of love. On behalf of all of our 51 seminary students, Brenda and I wanted to thank you for being “angels among us” and wish for each of you a very Merry Christmas! Karl K. Stegall