Volusia County Sheriff’s Deputy Cameron Tucker and his wife Justine were eating at a Zaxby’s restaurant in DeLand, Florida, when a young black man approached them and asked if he could pray for Officer Tucker’s protection.
Mrs. Tucker was so touched by the gesture, she quickly snapped a photo of the two and later shared it on her Facebook account where it went viral.
The young man, Juan O’Neal, a student from the Stetson University and a devout Christian revealed that “I just did what I felt like God was telling me to do” when he approached the officer.
“I felt the Lord was telling me to pray for this man. I know how much police officers go through and prayer changes things.” Juan told Yahoo Lifestyle.
The picture is especially powerful given the onslaught of negative incidents involving police officers and young black men. It’s since racked up over 50,000 reactions and 25,000 shares on Tucker’s Facebook page alone.
“This picture is a reminder of God’s constant love and perfect timing… After crying my eyes out we got to have an amazing conversation with this gentleman. He was on FIRE for God and you could feel His presence in the room. He said that he had felt compelled to talk to us and to pray over Cameron. ” Tucker wrote on Facebook.
Juan O’Neal’s mom, Leisha O’Neal, believes her son’s act of respect was motivated by familiarity rather than difference. “He grew up you know, dad is a police officer, a detective with the Columbus Police Department. So he knows some of the struggles, some of the things his dad had to go through. So for him to see another officer, he had an instant connection I’m sure, so it’s no big deal. I’m sure he was compelled to pray for him for everything that is going on in the world and the community so I think it was something he felt like he needed to do.” She said.
For his part, Officer Tucker called the young man brave for coming up to him while he was in uniform and with his family, “I was moved by it. I connected with him as a parent, a man, a Christian, and a police officer.”
Coming up @WESH 4pm, a picture of a young man, a stranger to him, praying over a @VolusiaSheriff deputy, goes viral. We met both and will share the inspiring, touching story! pic.twitter.com/3OtvV5TIkQ
— claire metz (@clairemetzwesh) September 25, 2019
Speaking to WESH, Juan O’neal, who is planning on joining the U.S. Army in May this year, said, “I really just wanted to let him know that I see him and that I appreciate his service, because … my dad has gone through a lot and I see a lot on the news. I just wanted to go and just encourage them and just be a light.”
In an updated post, Mrs. Tucker revealed, “It’s like Juan O’Neal has been a part of our family for years…What an amazing story being shared in the most beautiful light! ”
Remember to share this article to spread Juan’s beautiful gesture of kindness.