We’ve met some interesting people on this trip. There’s one story, in particular that stands out to me. We met a man named Leroy in Atlanta. He came from a rough background. He showed us seven scars on his body that were caused by bullets. He came to the Lord in a very unexpected way.
This is Leroy’s story:
Leroy needed money to pay his electric bill. He had no job and no real income. So he made a plan to steal a cell phone and sell it for cash to make ends meet.
As Leroy scopes out the streets around his neighborhood, he sees a man in a car talking on a cell phone. The car rolls up to an intersection. The windows are down. Leroy decides to seize the opportunity.
He approaches the car, quickly snatches the phone from the man’s hand (who was in mid-sentence on the phone) and takes off running!
For now, Leroy would get away.
The Fourth Ward, where Leroy lived, had a reputation as a heavy drug-trafficking neighborhood. The neighborhood operated under “no-snitch” policy. Meaning, if anyone was an eyewitness to a crime, no one would tell a soul.
Leroy didn’t know the man he had stolen from. It happened to the son of pastor Paul, who was running an outreach organization in the Fourth Ward called Atlanta Dream Center.
Paul had already built a name for himself among the people of the Fourth Ward. Even though Leroy’s neighborhood operated under a “no-snitch” policy, when Paul started inquiring about the cell phone thief, Leroy’s neighbors snitched him out.
After learning where he lived, Paul made a regular habit of driving to Leroy’s apartment on his Harley. Paul recalls watching the blinds inside Leroy’s apartment peek open and closed while he sat outside calling Leroy out and revving the motorcycle’s engine.
After a week or so, Leroy had enough! His first thought was to try to repay what he had stolen by snatching another phone. Instead, he decided to visit Paul at the Dream Center to confess, believing he would be handed over to the police.
Paul didn’t turn him in. Instead, he offered Leroy a job painting. He worked 40 hours at $10 an hour to pay off the cost to replace the phone. Up to this point, Leroy hadn’t worked a day in his life!
After the debt was paid off, Leroy was given a permanent job painting at Atlanta Dream Center. He tells us he loves working there; that he found a community where he belongs; and how thankful he is for how the Lord has changed his life through this experience.
Leroy’s story is just one example of how love, through forgiveness, can change the course of a person’s life. It opened my eyes to see how forgiveness is a powerful witness of love. Love is an action. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes and endures all things. Even cell phone snatchings.