Forgiveness was rewarded last week.
The sign on the marquee in front of Slidell First Baptist Church reads, “To those who robbed us we forgive you.”
On the morning of Friday, Feb. 14, pastor Bobby Cates discovered someone had broken into the church and stolen more than $10,000 in electronic equipment and the church van. The van was discovered later that day, but the rest of the items remain missing.
A story on the burglary ran in the Feb. 15 edition of the Messenger. By Monday, the story was picked up by a Metroplex news station and was syndicated on stations across the nation. Not long after, Cates said he started receiving calls from people wanting to donate to the church to help replace the stolen property.
“We’ve had tons of offers,” he said. “We’ve even had several companies offer to install security systems in our church.”
Calls came from as far away as Houston and Florida.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Cates said. “In the midst of dealing with difficult people, we quickly realize how many other people have good intentions and are willing to help others.”
One of the items stolen from the church was the sound system. “When we had service last Sunday, I had to ask the congregation to move closer to the front so they could hear me,” Cates said. “We just try to focus on what we have and not so much on what was lost.”
The forgiving and positive nature of the church and its members seems to have prompted others throughout the nation to help them replace what was lost.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the burglary.