How would you feel if you could look your assailant in the eye? What would you say? Would it be an opportunity for vengeance? Or would it be a time for compassion, perhaps even forgiveness? We’re about to find out.
Our church was broken into five times over the Christmas holidays—all, apparently, by the same intruder. Thankfully there was no vandalism. But there was damage, and there was theft. Six hundred dollars in cash was stolen, along with a computer and some cheques received as Sunday offerings. Our repair bills ran into the thousands. The staff was left feeling nervous and insecure. So we are now beefing up the security of our buildings, a project that will cost us over $15,000.
The intruder was caught and arrested. He was well known to the police, his face showing up on the after-hour surveillance videos of several local businesses, and his rap sheet including (we are told) upward of fifty previous convictions. He will have his day in court and then, presumably, he will be back in the hood.
Some of us are exploring what it would be like to make it personal, to meet our thief, to ask him why he did it, and to offer him a restorative relationship. Once we better understand the process, we are considering making a victim impact statement that would include the possibility of our being part of his rehabilitation. What do you think about that? How does it feel? What would you say?