April 8, 2009
In a time when the world economy has caused a depressing hit on people's lives, two enterprising Oklahoma Baptist University alumni are seeking to offer a reminder of God's messengers of hope.
Richard Cole and John David Finley, who roomed together on Bison Hill more than 30 years ago, have undertaken research and writing for a book about encounters with angels
The longtime friends live on opposite coasts and haven't seen each other in years. But they have a common desire to mesh biblical truths about God's heavenly hosts with firsthand, verifiable accounts of contemporary angel encounters. They hope such a book will be a source of hope and information, drawing people closer to God.
Cole had heard the story of angels personally ministering to his friends following a late-night car accident. Last August, he shared the idea of a book about angels with his former roommate, The Very Reverend Finley, an archpriest in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
Finley, who serves as a field staff member of his church's department of missions and evangelism in Goleta, Calif., has taught about angels before. Cole, founder and CEO of Geeks On Call in Norfolk, Va., has ministered to many people as a Sunday School teacher. They want to pair their experiences in a volume that honors God and helps others.
"We are nothing more than the facilitators," Cole said. "We are gathering the information so that the Lord might be glorified."
The Bible reveals nine ranks of angels, a hierarchy of three groups of three levels, Finley said. The authors plan for the book to explore the ranks' purposes and the messages they historically carry to humanity. They also will seek to answer common questions such as: Do angels exist? To whom do they appear? What do they look like when they appear? What is a guardian angel?
"We will look at the ranks of angels not as independent agencies, but as the invisible army of God," Finley said. "Overall, we're hoping the book is going to be very easy to read - not churchy - but with the plan of salvation woven through."
The authors are asking people with firsthand, verifiable encounters with angels to submit their stories via the book's Web site, http://www.angelbookproject.com/.
In the Book of Revelation, Finley said there is mention of seven archangels of God. Customarily the church identifies the seven angels bearing seven different ministries including the guardian of the faith waging war against God's enemies; the herald of the mysteries of God providing insight or wonder; the envoy of healing; the light-bearer who points the way; the intercessor who carries prayers to God; the glorifier of God, providing strength and courage in extraordinary circumstances; and the bestower of blessings who dispenses comfort from God.
"I'd like to use the themes of those ministries to create chapters of the kind of stories we're looking for," Finley said. "We're going to make the point in this book that these are God's angels to bring glory to God. The angels of God are not just there to save our life or to give us something we want or need. Their ministry is to draw us to God."
Cole noted that while several popular books on the market today reference modern-day miracles, this book will be different.
"This is about God's messengers, among His own people, whom He is sending to call us to Him," he said. "The Bible says we only come to Him as He calls us, and one way He calls us is using His angels."
The authors plan to title the book, "Angels ... God's Messengers Among Us." It will be the first publication for Cole and the second for Finley, who previously wrote, "Sacred Meals," a cookbook and guide about how to build character and pass down family and Christian traditions to children through eating together at home.