While he was experiencing a vision that let him know his son was in trouble, his son was rescued by an invisible hand at his back.
- Posted on Sep 24, 2018
“I’ve got a really good story for you,” my editor told me the other day in the office kitchen.
I was a newspaper journalist for 25 years before coming to Guideposts. There’s not a whole lot that surprises me. But this, she assured me, wasn’t the usual fare. “This guy’s done a video,” she said. “Watch it. You’ll see what I mean.”
It had been shared to the Mysterious Ways Facebook page by Karen Byerley Knutsen. A cell phone video of her father, Kenneth Byerley. I pulled it up online. Ken was an older, affable-looking man in a faded yellow T-shirt that read Clowning to Children. He sat in a brown armchair with a sheaf of papers in front of him. This guy…a video star? Curious, I hit Play.
“I’m going to talk about the love of God,” Ken said slowly. “And when God talks to us, we better listen.” Then he launched into a story about a vision, both fascinating and perplexing. I saw what my editor had meant. I had to know more about Ken and his startling experience.
I gave Ken a call. I recognized his voice from the video at once. Engaging, full of Midwestern charm. He laughed easily, and yet there was a certain shyness to him. It was impossible not to like him.
“How are things in Clinton, Wisconsin?” I asked. Clinton’s a small town an hour south of Madison. Population: 2,100. A place of neatly trimmed lawns, where $4.65 will get you a meat loaf sandwich at the Sun Down Café. Ken’s lived in Clinton most his life. “Since my family moved here in ’45,” he told me. And he’s become a local celebrity of late.
“People will stop me on the street, saying, ‘I saw your video,’” he said. “Or they’ll ask ‘When’s your next video coming out?’”
In the background, I could hear his daughter Karen chuckling over the speakerphone. She’s one of Ken’s eight kids. She looks after him and films his videos recounting the various miracles in his life. The story I’m interested in happened back in 1987. Ken’s been talking about it ever since. But only recently has it gained a wider audience.
“Tell me what happened,” I said. “The day you had…the vision.”
“Well, let’s see,” Ken said, matter-of-factly. “It was Friday, a payday, and I was on my way to the bank….”
At the time, Ken was a welder at the Chrysler plant, just across the Illinois line. He’d worked there almost 10 years. Past two o’clock in the afternoon, the lanes at the bank were backed up with cars. Just as Ken reached the teller window, he spotted someone familiar pull up beside him in the adjoining bank lane. It was Bo, his son David’s boss. David, then 21, had been working the past year for the local grain dealer, whose massive corn silos constituted the Clinton skyline.
Bo gave Ken a friendly wave, and the two of them went on with their business. Ken deposited his paycheck. The second before he pulled away from the window, though, something very strange happened. He saw Bo again in the lane next to him. This time, though, his car window was rolled down. His expression, sorrowful. “I’m sorry about David,” Bo said.
“David?” Ken said, startled. “What about David?”
“He was up on one of our silos,” Bo said. “He fell off the top, 40 feet to the ground. He got killed. I’m sorry.”
In the next instant, Ken snapped back to reality. He looked up to see Bo’s pickup pulling away from the bank. The conversation had never happened. And yet…it felt so real. Ken shook his head, chastising himself. What in the world am I doing, thinking such a bad thing? he wondered. He tried to brush the vision, whatever it was, aside.
“Wait a minute,” I interrupted Ken on the phone. “You have this odd vision about your son and you just dismiss it?”
“Well,” Ken said, a bit sheepishly. “I try to be a positive person.”
“Okay,” I said. “What happened after that?”
Ken pulled out of the bank just before three o’clock and headed home. His route took him past Bo’s massive corn silos. As he drove by, something else happened.
“I heard a voice,” Ken told me.
“A voice?” I asked him. “What kind of voice?”
“A small voice,” Ken said. “It said, ‘Pray for David.’ I thought, Why do I need to do that? David’s fine!”
Ken put the thought out of his mind. First he was seeing things. Now he was hearing them too. Maybe he was just tired after a long day at the Chrysler plant. He still had to cut the lawn when he got home. He couldn’t be worried about things that weren’t real.
But the voice came back, even more insistent. Pray for David! This time, it was even clearer—direct and commanding.
“I thought, Okay, I’m supposed to do this,” Ken told me. So he said a short prayer, asking God to watch over his son. But even then, it wasn’t a deeply felt plea. More like a grudging response. “I said, ‘Lord, you know what this is all about,’” Ken remembered. All these years later, I could sense him still shaking his head at the memory.
Ken arrived home, mowed the lawn and didn’t think too much more about the vision and the voice. Until that evening, when his son walked through the door.
“Dad,” David said. “I almost didn’t make it home today.”
“Why? What happened?” Ken said.
There’d been a lot of chaff on top of the silos. So David had been asked to go up and hose it off. He climbed to the top of one silo, started the hose and—
The water pressure sent David flying back. The force blew him straight to the edge of the silo. But he didn’t fall off.
“I felt something—someone—firmly pushing on my back,” David said. “It kept me in place long enough to collect my wits and shut off the hose.”
Ken couldn’t believe it. “David,” he said. “What time did that happen?”
David paused. “Guess it was about three,” he said. “Why?”
Ken told David about the vision, about the voice.
“Dad, you must’ve saved my life,” David said.
That wasn’t how Ken saw it. Not then. Not now. “God did what he had to do to save you,” Ken told David. “Not me.”
I got goose bumps at those words. And yet there was a question I couldn’t help but ask him. The journalist in me still needed to make sense of things.
“What was the point?” I asked Ken. “Why did you have to pray for David? God surely would have saved him either way, right?”
Silence. Finally Karen piped up. “I think it was about his faith,” she said. “God told him to pray and he did.” Unlike me, Ken wasn’t bothered by the question of why. It was enough to know it happened.
Ken told the story of the silos so often, it became part of family lore. It got so no one thought much about it. Other miracles happened. Like the time Ken accidentally got hit in the head with a hammer. “One inch over and the doctor said I’d be dead.” Not to mention when God told his son Randy to duck out of the way of a flying piece of metal.
In 2015, Ken had a stroke. He thought God was calling him home. His family felt helpless to comfort him. Then an idea came to his daughter Peggy. “Dad,” she said to Ken, “tell me about the day you had the vision.…”
She recorded the story on her phone and posted it to Facebook. More than 200 people liked it. It was the spark Ken needed. He pulled through. Except, he didn’t have the strength he once did. He couldn’t drive. For years, he’d been active in a clown ministry, dressing up and visiting the hospital once a month. Now he couldn’t even do that. Karen and her family moved in to help care for him. She noticed her dad feeling down. His one favorite activity? Watching pastor Charles Stanley on the television.
“One day I heard him say, ‘Everyone who knows God’s love needs to share their testimony,’” Ken said. “I told Karen, ‘Why don’t we post more videos to Facebook?’”
They’ve been posting them regularly ever since—the miracles of Ken’s life—at Ken’s Ministry on Facebook. People in Clinton can’t get enough. The whole thing has given Ken a new lease on life.
“What do you take from all this?” I asked Karen. This time she answered right away.
“I know God is real,” she said. “I don’t have any doubt at all.”
And maybe that’s the point.
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