Bank Robbery Foiled by...Jesus?

I know I’m supposed to be posting on Catholics in New Media today, but I just had to share this instead. It’s too good.

Nayara Goncalves, 20, was alone in the store in Pompano Beach, Fla., on July 23 when an unidentified man displayed a gun and demanded cash. Goncalves, a devout Christian, calmly said, “You can do whatever you want, but I’m just going to talk to you about Jesus, my God, before you leave.” [foxnews]

What followed was a 5 minute conversation between the woman and the would-be robber revealing what had driven this man to take such drastic measures. He confessed that he needed $300 for his family in order to pay a bill and avoid eviction. And then he even apologizes as he leaves - without taking a cent.

Here’s the video of this totally unexpected ordeal:

I think it’s safe to say that most robbers are probably not quite so open to discussing Jesus Christ while trying to take your money at the point of a gun. In fact, such a discussion may do a better job of making the perpetrator even angrier and more likely to harm you or others. In most cases, I would think it best to just give the robber the $300, call the cops, then talk to him about Jesus while he’s in jail. But every situation is different, and this young woman must have sensed the opportunity or was especially moved to reach out to this man in faith.

How very brave of her! I would hope I would have that kind of courage if I sensed a similar opportunity.

I don’t know if the man changed his ways after that or if he just went home and beat himself up for letting his conscience get the best of him.  Or maybe he just went to the next store down the road and did something else even more desperate and dangerous.

What it does show is the absolute destitution many criminals are experiencing. There is a reason people commit the evils they do. That doesn’t mean they should not be held absolutely accountable. And it doesn’t change the fact that society must be protected from people like this who pose a danger. It may very well be entirely that person’s fault they’ve found themselves in such destitution.

But they can be helped. And if we’re going to help them, we can’t just sit back and demonize them as fools and criminals (though they may very well be). If we truly mean to help them and others, we’ve got to look deeper into their motivations for doing what they are doing and address those issues. They may just need $300. They may need one caring person. They may just need an ear to listen to their problems. Or they may just need a little bit of Jesus.