A Tennessee pastor is urging several women to repent after they used prayer as a ruse to steal money and credit cards out of an older woman's purse.
According to CBN News, the incident occurred before an evening worship service at Hilldale Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, on February 9. Surveillance footage shows one woman stealing from the purse of a 78-year-old church member, who was unaware of the theft, while another woman prayed for her.
"We had a couple of women who came at about 5:40 and said they thought the service started at six, and I directed them in this direction (the sanctuary)," Senior Pastor Larry Robertson told the congregation at the start of the service.
"One of our ladies came early and was here. And long story short, they robbed her. One asked, 'Will you pray with me?' While they had their eyes closed and heads bowed, the other girl got into our church member's purse, and we've got it all on video ... got credit cards, cash, everything. Closed it back up, and amazingly, that's when the prayer finished," the pastor said.
Robertson, who was clearly upset by the situation, contended that God will ultimately avenge the elderly church member. He proceeded to quote from Deuteronomy 32:35, which reads, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay sayeth the Lord. The Lord knows who they are and where they are."
He also encouraged church members to pray that the suspects would repent and turn to Christ.
"I want to pray that the Lord will awaken something in these young ladies and realize the error of their ways and ultimately, come to Christ," the pastor said. "The reality is there's not much the police can do at this point. We want to pray for those individuals, especially Ms. Linda. People know that Christians are kind and trusting, and the devil knows it too."
Photos posted by the Clarksville Police Department show the two women caught on camera committing the theft and two other women believed to be accomplices.
"There were a total of four (4) females together at Hilldale Baptist Church, and you can see three (3) of them exit Sam's Club after they used the victim's credit card shortly after the theft. The Clarksville Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in identifying these female suspects," the department wrote on Facebook.
"It is so disappointing and shocking when it happens in a church building to a senior adult widow, [a] lady who just came to church early to pray. That's hard to swallow," Robertson told WTVF News.
"My prayer is that if I had the opportunity to encounter them again, that I would be faithful to and kind enough to them to share the gospel with them in hopes that they would trust Christ as their Savior," he added.
Photo courtesy: AEJ Images/Sparrow Stock
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.