College student prays over police officer in viral photo: ‘I was moved by it’

A Facebook photo of a Florida college student praying over a police officer has gone viral. (Photo: Facebook/Justine Tucker)
A Facebook photo of a Florida college student praying over a police officer has gone viral. (Photo: Facebook/Justine Tucker)

A police officer and a college student prayed together, in a moving photo shared online.

The meeting between Cameron Tucker of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office in Deland, Florida and college student Juan O’Neal, was photographed by Tucker’s wife and posted on Facebook Saturday.

“Tonight was a night that I will never forget,” wrote Justine Tucker. “This picture is a reminder of God’s constant love and perfect timing. Tonight we had an amazing encounter with an incredible young man named Juan. He came up to Cameron and asked is he could pray over him and his protection. 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.”

On Saturday, O’Neal, 21, senior at Stetson University, pulled up to Zaxby's restaurant in Deland and felt compelled to park next to a police squad car.

“Before he was a detective, my father was a deputy who did undercover work with a gang task force,” O’Neal, president of his school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Tucker, his wife, and their 2-year-old son, were inside the restaurant. While ordering food, O’Neal struck up a conversation, asking Tucker questions about his son and his “Woody” figurine from the film Toy Story.

After both men picked up their food and were seated at their respective tables, O’Neal had a striking thought.

“I felt the Lord was [telling me] to pray for this man,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I know how much police officers go through and prayer changes things.”

Officer Tucker was surprised but readily accepted O’Neal’s offer. “I was moved by it,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I connected with him as a parent, a man, a Christian, and a police officer.”

Police work also bonded the two men, says Tucker. “Sometime the family members of police officers are more taxed than those involved in the actual work,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “If you let it, it will suck the life out of you.”

Tucker says his line of work typically invites curiosity but not with such depth. “It was brave of Juan to approach me, in uniform and with my family,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “From what I’ve heard, he’s a wonderful young man.”

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