GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) — After their van was stolen, the pastor of a Belmont church decided to offer forgiveness to the thief.
The Gaston Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/Jcwgvm) that the gesture by Upper Room Pentecostal Church appears to have paid off. The van turned up 13 miles away at a church in Gastonia.
Pastor Michael Brewer said church members had attended a conference in Belmont last Sunday. The next day, the white van with purple lettering and a cross painted on the side was gone.
Brewer said the church wanted the thief to know it held no ill will. He posted the sign which said, "To whoever stole our church van, we forgive you."
"We've been forgiven for so much that we feel like we need to forgive as well," Brewer said.
The pastor started getting phone calls from passers-by who'd seen the sign. He told them whether or not the church got the van back, forgiveness was the right response.
"We feel like, especially this time of year, the Christmas season is really all about forgiveness and compassion. And that's what we ought to show," Brewer said.
Brewer posted the sign Monday afternoon. That evening, someone spotted the van at another church. A neighbor to the church noticed it parked by the road and called Bethlehem Church pastor Wavey Williams.
When no one came to claim it on the second day, Williams called the Belmont church.
"They'd completely given up hope," Williams said. "They'd been calling scrap yards, thinking it'd been scrapped already."
Brewer was shocked and thankful to hear the news.
"We're very thankful we're getting it back," Brewer said. "God really does answer prayers."
Information from: The Gaston Gazette, http://www.gastongazette.com