Unfortunately, many of the stories we see about law enforcement tend to be negative. It’s common to read about hostile confrontations between the police and the people in their communities.
But a young man wanted to change that narrative, to share a heart-warming moment with a sheriff’s deputy he had just met, and now the photo of the two is warming hearts all over the internet.
On September 21, Sgt. Cameron Tucker, Deputy Sheriff of Volusia County, Florida, and his wife Justine had dinner at Zaxby’s restaurant.
While at the counter, the couple had to chat with someone they had never met before: Juan O’Neal, a senior high school student. They exchanged a pleasant conversation, and then parted.
But then the teen went over to their table and asked them something no one expected: he asked them to have a moment of prayer with the couple, to pray for the protection of the sergeant in his service.
“I just wanted to go and encourage them, and just be a light and just share the love,” Juan told WESH 2.
Tucker was shocked, but, as a spiritual man himself, he gladly accepted the stranger’s prayers: “I would not turn that down,” he said. “We could use all the prayer we can get.”
Justine snapped a photo of the two men, their heads bowed in prayer, and later shared it on Facebook, saying that it was an “amazing encounter” and a “reminder of God’s constant love and perfect timing.”
It was more than a moment of spirituality. For Juan, it was a way of letting the sheriff’s deputy know he had some support in his community. Juan’s father is in law enforcement in Georgia, so he knows what officers often go through.
“I just wanted him to know that I see him, and that I appreciate his service,” Juan told WESH 2.
The photo has now gone viral, being shared over 24,000 times on Facebook since Saturday… which took both the teen and the officer by surprise.
“It just kind of blew my mind, honestly,” Juan said. “It really does.”
Juan says this isn’t the first time he’s prayed with a stranger. But for Tucker, this was an extraordinary moment that he will never forget, and gave him the spirits to continue his work.
“I couldn’t be more thankful that he stopped by that day, and gave me a recharge not only with the public but with my faith as well,” he said.