NewsLocal News

Actions

Virginia church's story of forgiveness inspires international support

Virginia church's story of forgiveness inspires international support
Posted at 6:20 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 18:20:41-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- It's been a month since a Chesterfield church bus was targeted by vandals. Instead of pressing charges or getting angry, the church community responded with positivity, inspiring people across the globe to step up and help.

“Aw man, love is winning," said the pastor of M3 church in Chesterfield, Wade Runge.

Amid shattered glass and broken windows, a testament of hope remains: a sign displaying the phrase "Love Wins."

“What the enemy thought he was going to do to us, God’s turning it around for our victory," Runge said.

That spirit transcends any negative feelings Runge could've had toward the people who tried to attack his ministry.

“We’re forgiving those who did the crime," he said.

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers first caught up with the pastor in October when he discovered vandals had busted out the windows of his church's bus, which he called a devastating blow.

“It was very personal when the bus was vandalized, because that's a thing that we use to help people," he said.

Those outreach efforts include delivering meals to people who live in hotels and getting them groceries.

Despite feeling hurt, Runge never wanted to press charges. Instead, he publicly forgave the unknown vandals and even invited them to join him at church. The way he responded sparked a movement.

“I believe the whole community is seeing what God's love looks like, what God's grace looks like, and what forgiveness really looks like," Runge said.

It caught the attention of Budget Glass Company, located on Hull Street, which offered to fix all the broken windows for free. It also led people around the world to donate to the church.

“We even had people from Australia and Canada," Runge said.

Thanks to their generosity, M3's Thanksgiving feast, which was at risk of being cancelled due to the vandalism, will go on with a bang.

“We're not only going to be able to serve who we thought we were going to be able to serve, we're probably going be able to serve more people," Runge explained.

That includes 150 people in total, many of whom are homeless.

“We just love them and meet them right where they are and just show them God's love and no strings attached unconditionally," he said. "We're going to have it all and we're going to have turkey to ham, even have some fish and some salmon.”

Then in December, their giving will only continue.

"We're already planning and launching into our Christmas season," Runge said. "We will be giving away toys to more than 500 at risk children."

Runge said he's extra thankful this year for the community, their kindness and for the CBS 6 Problem Solvers for getting involved.

“I’m really grateful for you for picking up the story, because that was the answer to my prayers," Runge said. “I was reminded that God hasn't forgotten us and I was reminded of how good people can really be.”

The pastor believes the bus will be back on the road in the next three to four weeks. In the meantime, other local churches have allowed M3 to borrow their vehicles for outreach needs.