Vandals partially destroyed a Virginia church bus last week, smashing 24 windows, ripping out a portion of the staircase, and punching out at least one window frame.
Pastor Wade Runge of Mountain Movers Ministry broke down in tears when he discovered the damage and was immediately heartbroken to see the vehicle in such disrepair just weeks before the busy holiday season.
“I saw it and my heart aches. It brought me to tears,” the preacher told WRIC-TV, noting the bus regularly helps transport kids, families, and single parents in need. “It really upset me.”
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Runge said his ministry has fed more than 30,000 people in recent years. The bus is a pivotal part of the church’s ministry to the community, as it helps bring kids, mothers, and the homeless in recovery programs to attend church and to receive much-needed food and nourishment.
Unfortunately, the church doesn’t have insurance to cover the ransacking, so Runge is encouraging people to pitch in and help. Despite the frustration and disheartening events, though, the preacher is choosing forgiveness — and he’s even inviting the vandals to church.
“I want to let that person know we do not want to pursue charges because everyone makes mistakes and the debts been satisfied,” he said. “Jesus has paid that price already and we just want to let them know and show the world that there’s enough anger and people walking around with bitterness. We as Christians and believers should be the most forgiving and loving people on the planet.”
Runge’s church members are striking a similar tone. The children’s ministry created signs and placards expressing love and kindness and posted them all over the bus in hopes of spreading a positive message to those responsible.
The preacher said in a Facebook post that, despite being discouraged, he “will not quit” and has no plans to back down from the mission he’s been called to.
“There is too much work to be done and lives to be helped. It’s obvious the enemy is mad that we are making a difference. We will not back down,” Runge wrote. “The Marine in me reminds me that the enemy is just mad at us because we are breaking through the enemy’s lines. The funny thing is that I’m more sad at those who did this, but if God places them in my life I’m going to love them and forgive them.”
In the midst of tragedy, Runge’s forgiveness serves as an example to us all.
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