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The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press
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July 11

The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press

Over the past few weeks the People of Praise has received a great deal of attention in the press. Here, we aim to correct the record and provide clarity on a few important points.

Mercy for a Thief

By Chris Meehan

After the Lord saved Beth Boyle (Servant Branch) from the theft of her Christmas cash, she saw a chance to pass along God’s generosity to the thief.

Confronting a thief was the last thing on her mind as she strolled into the entryway of the Cub Foods grocery store the Saturday afternoon before Christmas. All she wanted to do was polish off her Christmas shopping by picking up some made-in-Minnesota specialty items for her South Dakota relatives. She was carrying some extra cash in her purse to make the purchases.

Beth Boyle

The store was jammed, and so were the carts in the covered entryway. Beth stopped to help a woman untangle her cart. Then, as she stepped inside the store with her own cart, she noticed a display of Minnesota-grown Honeycrisp apples to her immediate left. She turned to get a better look.

“Suddenly, I had a strong nudge to turn around and check my cart,” she says. “Definitely from the Holy Spirit. A man, standing alongside my cart, quickly turned away.”

Suspicious, Beth turned to check her purse. Her wallet was gone.

She looked up at the man and caught his eye. “Excuse me, sir, have you seen my wallet?”

“No, ma’am,” he replied. “Are you sure you didn’t leave it in the car?”

“Yes . . . I checked it as I was getting out of the car.”

The man began walking toward the store exit, but Beth followed.

She caught up with him, then summoned up a boldness she didn’t know she had. “I’m sorry, but can I check your coat?”

The man didn’t reply and he didn’t run, so Beth patted down the front pockets of his heavy wool overcoat. Unable to find anything, but still not at ease, she moved into position between the man and the exit and asked if she could summon the manager for a more thorough search.

“My mother’s waiting for me,” the man said. “I can’t wait for him.” Then he brushed past Beth and ran out the door. Disappointed, Beth watched him run.

Suddenly, a voice called out from behind Beth, “Run after him!” It was the woman she had helped with the cart.

Encouraged, Beth darted after the man, who was sprinting across the parking lot toward the street. “Police! Help! Theft!” she yelled as she ran.

Abruptly the man turned around. “I’m going to get rid of this,” he said, as he ran past her. He tossed her wallet through the store’s front doors, then ran off again.

Beth saw that her money was still inside, so she went over to the woman who had helped her out. She hugged and thanked the woman and her mother, calling them “the angels in my path.” “We’re praying for you,” the woman said.

After the conversation, she saw that the man was in custody.

A policeman came and began asking Beth if she wanted to press charges. He said that the thief had freely admitted to taking her wallet. Beth thought about it for a moment.

“What was going through my mind was that God was merciful to protect me and give me back my wallet. So perhaps I could turn around and be merciful—it was a bit of the Christmas spirit.”

She told the policeman that she would not press charges, but agreed with his suggestion that the man be banned from entering that store in the future.

“I left the situation with a grateful heart, and a strong desire to pray that it be a life-changing experience for him,” she said. “I felt God’s presence every step of the way.”

Responses

  1. Nancy Grams says:

    Beth, what courage and confidence in your hearing the Lord to follow through to the end! Praise God for all He wants to do in that man's life through your mercy.
    Nancy Grams/Servant Branch

  2. Maria Elliott says:

    You were brave; this brought tears to my eyes. I was impressed that you were so responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. After more thought, I realized that your kindness to the woman struggling with the cart was integral to the recovery of your wallet. It's another confirmation that "no one is an island" and we must support one another.
    How good also to extend your blessing to the one who wronged you!
    Maria Elliott/ NoVA Branch

  3. Anne Brewer says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Chris Ubanski says:

    Beth,
    What a powerful example of being led by the Spirit!
    Chris Urbanski

  5. Beth Pingel says:

    What a beautiful story of the Lord's mercy.

  6. Kristine Dailey says:

    Thank you for sharing how God helps us in everyday life.

  7. Robin says:

    Bless you for seeing him with the eyes of Christ and showing Christ mercy.

  8. Annie Putzier (indy campus) says:

    This is a great story, your bravery is inspiring! Praise God! I'm sure he was very blessed and grateful for your mercy.

  9. Chuck Wood says:

    I am going to find a way to use this story in my preaching at the parish in Portland where I serve! Your example, Beth, is a wonderful story of being "merciful as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).

  10. Kandace Krause says:

    Love your story...& your picture in that beautiful garden, too ! Thanks much ! : ) Hug !

  11. Pam Seale says:

    Amen to all these comments! I'm encouraged in faith, mercy, and spontaneity!

  12. Eileen Cramer says:

    Wow Beth! I often run errands at night and am always wary of something like this happening! I will not take unnecessary risks, but it reminds me that the Lord is in all things and always by our side! I am grateful you were safe and I will be praying for this man!

  13. Rita Kottkamp says:

    Glory to God! Such a powerful thing in a world filled with fear! Good for you, Beth, in listening to the prompting of the Spirit. You are an inspiration for the rest of us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit's prompting. And you are a great witness to courage and trust in the Lord.

  14. Lori Twining says:

    What a great story of Christ in you, Beth. I believe that your prayer and your actions toward this man will be truly life changing for him. Glory to God!

  15. Frances Gauthier says:

    I am thankful that nothing bad happened to you, Beth. However I have to remind myself often to not leave my purse in the cart while shopping, as it is so easily accessible and may be a temptation to someone who may be struggling with the lack of money or goods.

  16. Kim Doffing says:

    Dearest Beth: I praise God for your bravery, responding to the Holy Spirit nudging you, sticking with it to the conclusion with the Police. It warms my heart that a stranger acted like a friend bringing consolation to you!

    Tell the story, bring forth the good news and those around us will hear and repeat them over and over from generation to generation!

  17. Jocelyn D'Eon says:

    Thanks for letting the Holy Spirit speak to you and work throught you.

  18. Karen Heintzelman says:

    Your story reminds me of the book Les Miserables. I was so touched by the priest who didn't report the theft of his silver-just like Christ himself. May this man be touched by your Christ-like forgiveness!

  19. Gloria Murphy says:

    Dear Beth,
    Your prompt response to the Holy Spirit was very inspiring. You were bold and decisive! What a gal. Your photo was great too and brought back many happy memories of your stay with us on Angela. God bless you.
    Gloria Murphy

  20. Heidi Clymer says:

    I was sent to your story from God. I am so grateful for you taking the time to share it. I have been struggling with an issue of theft myself. I had a garage sale. A woman fell in love with a valuable in price and in my heart item that I had. She did not have the money for it. She went home and researched what it was worth and found my price to be 90% off and then came back pulling me aside telling me a sad story about her grandchild and asking if I would accept $10 now with a promise to bring back the remainder after the 1st of the month when she got her welfare check. I felt a strong urge from God to lovingly accept her offer. All people are equal and we all run into bad times... I like to help. I have sent her a simple photocopy of her own handwritten I.O.U to remind her at the end of each month just before she gets her check. To make a long story short... now several months later I have received nothing from her. Not any money nor even a note asking to put payment off. As friends and family who know the story keep telling me to pursue her... I think I have found the answer. I know where she lives... but have not gone there. I know her phone number... but have not harassed her. I know her email ...but have not wrote her. I know her facebook page... but have not commented. We live in a small town... but I have not spread her name and what she did all over it. I see on her facebook where she does not live the life of a welfare person. All this is hard for me to see BUT, I am so hoping that she sees the good in me... and it changes her. I was thinking about my story again and had 99% decided that God wanted me to drop it. So I turned on the radio to get it off my mind. The first song that played was from Francesca Battistelli... "Motion of Mercy". It spoke to me and I was in awe of the timing. This was God talking with me. I went to youtube to listen to it again. I questioned my own complete understanding of the word mercy, so I searched for its definition. Still questioning if it could be used in my situation where the thief isnt even asking for mercy... I put the words "mercy for theft" in my search and up came your message. I feel a peace with this now. Yes, it still really bothers me that I was taken and something very special to me that I shouldnt have even had in my sale is being enjoyed by a thief. But, I think I can better deal with this now. Hopefully one day she send me my money... but from this I can live with knowing that I did the right thing. THANK YOU so much for sharing your story. God Bless you! Here is a link to the song... http://youtu.be/eBuyL2mGHyU

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