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A Wild Day In Santurce
We awoke today and it seemed to be another normal Sunday. We took our showers and got ready for church. My lovely wife told me she was going to wear her new shoes that were gifted to her. They are beautiful, but are not made to walk long distances. I decided to wear a pair of loafers, also not made for long distant walking, and surely not made to run in.
The church we attend is in a somewhat bad area of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is in the barrio called Santurce. There is many homeless and drug addicts in this area; that is the reason for Metro Vineyard to be there. After all, we are supposed to go to the poor in spirit and broken hearted. It is a bilingual church and Maggie and I have fallen in love with attending there. The original Pastor, Ed Chilcott and his wife, Pam are back in the United States right now for health issues. Right now, the interim Pastors are Carlos Morales and his wife Carmen Gutierrez who translates the message to English.
Metro Vineyard is a wonderful church and I highly recommend a visit if you are in Puerto Rico. The map at the start of this hub shows the location and below is the link to Metro's website and Facebook page.
Running the Streets of Santurce
We drove to church and parked out on Ponce de Leon Ave. The church is on the forth floor of an old building and we made our way to the door. As we were walking past other church member's vehicles, we noticed a man who was acting very suspicious right near one of the member's van. After we were buzzed into the building, Maggie and I discussed the situation. Neither of us knew whose van it was, but we knew it was a member, since it had a Metro Vineyard sticker on it. I told my wife to go up and find out the owner of the van and I would keep an eye on it. As I reopened the door, I saw the man break the driver's side window and he reached in and grabbed a purse. I yelled for him to put it down and moved towards him. Maggie was yelling at me, but all I knew was this was one of my sister's purse and I had to retrieve it. The man waved a beer bottle at me and in Spanish, told me to stay back. I didn't and he ran. So did I.
The Chase Was On!
Why did I wear these loafers I thought. He flashed the bottle at me again. The only weapon I had was that big Bible I was carrying into church. I saw an empty beer bottle and thought I better at least have some defense too. Here was Froggy, chasing a thief with a Bible in one hand and a beer bottle in the other. There were people out in the streets and I was yelling in English to stop him, he stole a purse. He would take corners and people would point which way he went. Finally, another guy started in the chase with me and a car followed. They were calling police from what I found at the end. We ran and ran and my legs burned. The other guy told me to come and I looked at the Bible and got strength. I dropped the beer bottle and when we hit the next street, I heard sirens. The cops came around the corner and I dodged out of the path of their speeding car and pointed to the next street. When I turned the corner, they were throwing the man to the pavement and cuffing him. He had blood oozing out of his head and one of the cops started speaking Spanish to me. I said I was American and "no comprende". The car that had called the police pulled up and lent me their phone. I called my wife who was enthralled that I was alive and ok. The criminal had broken the window of the car right behind the van too. Maggie and the two sisters in Christ came to where we were. We had run probably close to one mile through twists and turns.
The van's owner was our Pastor and his wife. Carmen translates Carlos' Spanish in every service. Zulma's window was broke too. She is a leader in the church also. Maggie and I didn't hear today's sermon, but we did all have some strong Biblical lessons today anyway. Let me explain.
The Lessons Learned
Before the man was hauled off by the many police who had arrived at the scene, I had an opportunity to tell him Jesus loves him. He told my wife that he was sorry and he didn't know he was doing it to good people. I felt bad for him, but I also thought he should pay for his wrong. One of the police officers told us that they knew of him and that he had escaped them several times. They gave me kudos for the run I made. It wasn't me, I thought, but the power of God's Spirit.
We all had to go to the police station where a decision had to be made. The officers tried to call the phone numbers the man gave. No one would claim knowing him. He seemed truly remorseful and said he would pay for the windows. I was skeptical, as I knew when we are in trouble, we will promise almost anything.
Carmen, Zulma, Maggie and I discussed the possibilities. Did prosecution and prison seem the best answer? I voiced the opinion that I thought he should have to be punished and Carmen looked at me and said, "Where is the grace in that?" It hit me.
It hit me hard!
All the grace that God has given me. My life is full of God's grace and mercy. My story shows some. Many of my hubs show the grace Jesus has given me, along with other people.
The decision was made.
We had to go to a judicial center and we were back at the police station waiting in our cars.
That Right Feeling
The police officer and the man came out.
I went around the car and shook the man's hand. Carmen and my wife invited him to start attending Metro Vineyard.
I saw a tear in his eye.
Carmen had told us what today's sermon was about. We lived out the sermon without hearing it. Read it for yourselves. This is two versions, the King James and an easier to read one, The New Living Translation. The whole sermon is in these words without me adding anything:
1 Timothy 1: 12-17 King James
12And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and insolent: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16But for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for an example to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
17Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1: 12-17 New Living Bible
12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.
15This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.
A Day of Grace and Mercy
This day was not just a day of grace and mercy for that man. It was a day of grace and mercy for us all.
God's Word was alive and in action!
I am still "high" on all that happened and I have been singing and praising our wonderful God!
Let's all sing a praise together for his amazing Grace!
May God keep you and hold you in His perfect love!
© G.L. Boudonck
© 2012 Greg Boudonck