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After church VBS robbery, kids learn power of prayer


NORTH SPARTANBURG, S.C. (BP)–“It’s an amazing thing. Even the police are surprised,” pastor Mike Hamlet said after recovering every item that was taken in a late night robbery at First Baptist Church, North Spartanburg.
“If there’s ever been a case of ‘they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good,’ this is one,” Hamlet added. “The kids in our Vacation Bible School and our members prayed.”
And God answered their prayers, he asserted.
Thieves broke in July 20 through a temporary construction wall after the second day of the church’s Vacation Bible School. In addition to electronic equipment — VCRs, television cameras, televisions and microphones — they took everything that was on stage, including a four-man tent, cooler and sleeping bags which were part of the “Mt. Extreme” VBS’s opening assembly.
“They even took a sack of toys and went through the VBS’s lost and found box,” Hamlet noted.
The next morning, Hamlet and VBS workers told the kids what had happened and urged them to pray for the items to be returned, and for the robbers.
On Wednesday evening, at the weekly meeting of Sunday school workers , Hamlet assured more than 300 present, “Folks, I’m disappointed and upset. But this has reminded me what we’re all about. Our greatest asset is our people, and this Sunday, you won’t see anything different in our worship. We may have lost some equipment, but our mission has not been deterred.”
“The people were wonderful,” Hamlet shared, noting they also were urged to pray for the return of the church’s property.
Police officers who dusted for fingerprints explained to church officials this was a difficult case, because usually, stolen electronic goods are sold very quickly.
That evening, however, police followed up on a tip when someone noticed a suspicious truck and some men camping in what appeared to be the stolen tent.
Thursday morning, Hamlet was called by the sheriff’s department to identify the church’s property.
“We got it all back. Everything. Every last bit of it,” he rejoiced.
“When I told the VBS kids at 11:30 a.m., they went wild. A lot of them were quivering. They cheered about getting the equipment back. And we told them that the power of their prayers made the difference.
“The robbers messed with the wrong people,” Hamlet quipped. “I’m not talking about me or First Baptist Church, but hundreds of children praying.”
At VBS commencement, the robbery and the result of the kids’ prayers became an opportunity for VBS workers to share Christ with parents who are not Christians, Hamlet said.
According to Hamlet, the sheriffs said stolen goods typically are almost never fully recovered this quickly. They also anticipate the arrest may lead to solving a number of cases, since one of the alleged criminals is on South Carolina’s most wanted list.
Hamlet asked to speak with one of the suspects, and police officers brought him to First Baptist. Sitting in the patrol car, Hamlet shared about the importance of having a relationship with God.
“I wanted him to know that we were not angry, and that we care about them and their relationship with God and that their lives are not over because God can change a lot of things.”