CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — The pastor of a Chesterfield County church is leaning on the power of love and forgiveness to use a negative situation to further his ministry's mission. This comes after a bus that church members rely on to help the community was targeted by vandals.
Sunday morning, Wade Runge read messages of hope that cover the outside of his church bus, overshadowing the remnants of a crime.
"We forgive you. The church loves you," he said. "We're praying with you, because no man is perfect."
Pastor Runge leads M3 Church on Old Courthouse Road.
“Our church is all about loving our community and showing God’s love with no strings attached," he said.
He feels a calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Over the past two years, the congregation has used the bus for outreach to help thousands of families in need.
“We feed people from hotels. We pick them up in our bus and bring them here for hot meals and groceries," Runge said. "And during the pandemic, we never shut down.”
Runge said the church has fed about 30,000 people in recent years, and he was also planning to use the bus to bring Thanksgiving dinners to homeless families.
But Friday morning, Runge said he discovered vandals had busted out nearly every single window of the bus.
“I was brought the tears, I mean literally brought to tears," he said. "And by having this bus destroyed, it has impacted our ability to make a difference, because it’s $200 a window, I mean it’s crazy how much it costs.”
After Runge collected his emotions, he said the Lord reminded him of his purpose. He posted to social media saying he forgives those responsible.
“Whoever they are, I’d give them a hug and let them know it’s OK," he explained. "We all make mistakes, and I hope that they would come to church one day, and we’d be able to minister to them and encourage them.”
The pastor's act of forgiveness resonated with children at the church. Runge said he and the youth pastor were the ones behind the banners and balloons, meant to send an important message.
“Love wins, and love will overcome this situation," Runge said. "We believe there’s a good story on the other side of this, and we believe that whatever was intended for our harm, God’s going to turn it around for our good.”
As the church shifts funds to repair the damage, they'll need help to continue their other outreach efforts, especially as we get closer to the holidays. If you'd like to make a donation -- click here.
Chesterfield Police said they don't have suspect information at this time, but anyone with information that could help in the investigation is asked to contact them at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.