“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Ps. 91:11, NIV).

Do guardian angels exist? I like how Ellen White puts it: “A guardian angel is appointed to every follower of Christ. These heavenly watchers shield the righteous from the power of the wicked one.”* Indeed, guardian angels do exist, as I learned at the tender age of 13.

Girl in a Strange Land

It was a hot spring, 1972, in the state of Florida, and right in the middle of that school year I was starting my very first year of junior high school.

Immigrating from Communist Cuba wasn’t easy in any way: I missed my friends and family terribly, and adaptation was taking its time. Things were poles apart from what I was used to at my age.

It made me an unusual child in many aspects. Culturally, linguistically, and spiritually speaking , I felt left out. I didn’t speak the language, and to top it all off, I was the awkward outsider who didn’t go by the 1970s’ standards—bell bottom pants, frayed jeans, and midi skirts. I was a Seventh-day Adventist, learning to swim in the choppy social waters of my era in a new country.

Anti-bullying programs and tolerance for kids who were different, slow, challenged, or gifted were non-existent in those days. Schools were deep, dangerous water: you either sank or swam.

Then I stumbled into mean-girl territory, and that’s when the bullying started: packs of four or five girls at a time; sometimes even more. They’d say mean things about me and make unkind com- ments right in my face; they laughed about my clothing and how I looked. Sometimes they’d even push me around whenever we encountered each other.

Last Straw

One day, after our physical education class, something happened that marked me for life and introduced me to the world of angels. I was wearing a beautiful, solid flowery scarf tied around the head with the end hanging down on one side—the quintessential hippie look of the day. It was my newest “treasure” in the land of liberty; a recent gift from Mom. I felt special, confident: I was starting to fit in. In the locker room one of the mean girls approached me from behind. I could never have imagined what was about to transpire. I felt a sudden jerk on my hair as my beautiful headband was yanked off of my head. This girl’s insolence had crossed all boundaries. I heard her laughing and making fun of me behind my back, and without even knowing what I was doing, I turned around and slapped her in the face.

They gave me the death sentence that same day after class.

The girl and all her tormentor friends were waiting for me outside. They threatened revenge, and called me out for a fight.

“Tomorrow morning when you get to school, we’ll be here waiting for you.”

I stood frozen where I was, unable to move or articulate a word, and just watched the girls walk away one after the other, until their silhouettes disappeared beyond the horizon.

What would I do? Run, hide, or ask others to handle my problems? Telling an adult could easily make things worse. It might stop the immediate situation, but I would just be painting a target on myself. What other option did I have?

Angel Help

That evening at home I learned about the power of angels watching over us, and the light of God’s promises transformed the dark perspective on my situation. My heavenly Father gave me a new verdict.

My mom was a woman of faith. She believed her loving Savior watches over us with the deepest affection. She took me to her room, pulled open the top drawer of the small dark-green nightstand at the side of her bed, took her big old Bible out, and began to read.

First of all, a verse from the book of Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and cou- rageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).

Mom’s fingers traveled swiftly through the pages of her much-studied Bible, finding verse after verse of assurance of God’s protection from dangers seen and unseen, reassuring me and imparting light, strength, and courage.

Promises of the Lord’s angels sent to watch over us were the “refuge” where, just as she had done all of her life, I was to hide and find my own com- fort. And I did.

Mom believed in God’s promises with all her heart. She believed in her heavenly Father and His protection for His earthly children, and she passed that legacy on to her daughter that evening, as she made sure I memorized those precious gems.

The promise that God has placed angels all around us opened up such an amazing window to the invisible world of God and His majestic power. Without a doubt, angels of God are com- missioned from heaven to guard God’s children. My best weapon was my faith and the trust I was placing in the care of my heavenly Father.

“Tomorrow when you get to school,” said Mom, “remember that He walks with you.” We prayed about the circumstances, and went to rest.

The following morning the girls were waiting for me just as they had promised. Half of them stood on one side of the door where I had to come in, while the rest stood on the other side. There was no adult supervising, and there was no turning back for me.

I raised my head and reminded myself: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Ps. 34:7, KJV). No evil could approach me without the Lord’s permission. As I entered, something inexplicable transpired.

The girls stood as if in a trance in front of me. Unable to move or even speak, they stood watching me, in silence, as if seeing something—or someone—I wasn’t able to see. I believe they saw my guardian angel walking by my side that day.

Those girls never victimized or bullied me after that. The bullying stopped, and I graduated from junior high school a conqueror in the Lord.

Whatever did happen that day, whatever those girls saw that morning, are questions that will remain with me to the end of my days. One thing I am sure of is that God’s faithfulness is everlast- ing. He is near when we are oppressed with anx- ieties and fears, and yearns for us to cast all our cares upon Him, because He cares for us.

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared” (Ex. 23:20, NIV).

*Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), pp. 512, 513.

Olga Valdivia is a customer service representative at Pacific Press Publishing Association in the state of Idaho.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4, 5).

I still remember when I first encountered Gladys on my jogging route early one morning.

I was sure I was seeing an apparition: an all-white figure against the blue morning sky; small and frail, her body so bent by kyphosis that from a distance it was difficult to pinpoint her small white head that was bent so close to her chest.

I started getting used to Gladys’ uniqueness on my runs through the neighborhood. Neither the curvature of her spine nor her advanced age seemed to detain her. She walked long distances at what I thought was an impressive pace, considering my own small and stark trot.

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I used to say to God, “Lord, You know I’m a failure as an evangelist.”

As our paths coincided Gladys became a familiar, almost necessary figure. I was always happy to see her. Although our eyes never met, I greeted her, waved at her, and wished her a happy day on my quest to reach out. I wanted to believe that Gladys’ apparent unfriendliness had more to do with her hunched-over posture than anything else. How difficult it must have been to lift her head to return a smile or a greeting from a stranger.

Something to Share

One morning as I passed Gladys I felt this tremendous outpouring of God’s love for her. I reckoned how lonely and distressed she must have felt under the weight of her disability. I couldn’t let the prospect of sharing God’s love pass and keep to myself the glorious news of a sympathetic God who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him has eternal life.

Time was running out for Gladys, as it was for me, and for the entire world. So one day, instead of just waving or greeting her as I usually did, I stopped, and for the first time met the “real” Gladys.

Gladys was the name I gave this woman for whom I hadn’t take the time to genuinely care. Her real name was Betty, and as with all of us, she, at times, felt lonely and frightened. Her small blue eyes gleamed as I talked to her about Jesus and how much He loved her.

After that, Betty seemed a different person. Whenever she saw me approach from a distance, she would lift her head (as much as she could) just to greet me.

Grace to Share

We are called to bless others. We are called to strike a chord in the heart of those who feel as if love has abandoned them. Christians are called to share God’s love by words, but also by deeds. It takes telling, and showing, to share the love of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This is the purest form of love—love by grace. In the same way, our love for others ought to be gracious, sacrificial, and truthful, because that is how God loves us. God asks that we love others graciously, because His love for us is gracious.

I used to say to God, “Lord, You know I’m a failure as an evangelist. I don’t know how to give Bible studies. How can I reach this indifferent, sometimes antagonistic society?”

“Just follow My example,” said Christ. “I’m not simply seeking converts; I’m engaging hearts.”

How easy! How fantastic! “Go and make disciples,” said Jesus (Matt. 28:19). But He was really calling us to make disciples, as we live our busy lives, through a kind word, a listening ear, a hug, a smile, a good deed, a prayer, and a sincere interest in helping others.

All too often our evangelism reduces people to projects. As destitute and deprived as they are—as we all are—the good news we have to share is that God’s love as demonstrated in Christ is more than enough to find us and win us for His kingdom.

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! (Ps. 36:7).

Olga Valdivia is a freelance writer and legal assistant. She and her husband, Miguel, have three adult children and three granddaughters.