Roswell arson demands call for grace

Army officer offers forgiveness and invitation to arsonist.

Captain Beau Perez (right) stands near a thrift store truck bearing a message of forgiveness. The truck was damaged in the recent fire. [Photo by Matthew Arco, Roswell Daily Record]

Firemen responded to a call on April 2, 2010—Good Friday—at The Salvation Army’s Roswell, N.Mex., thrift store.

Captain Beau Perez, corps officer, was just beginning his Good Friday address at Mt. Gilidea Baptist Church when he learned of the fire. Perez said gang members had threatened the store earlier in the week.

According to the battalion chief, “Two more seconds and this building would have gone up.”

Damage was estimated at $8,000. The Home Depot donated materials and labor to restore the building.

Perez said he intended to seek out the perpetrator—not for vengeance, but for reconciliation. Making more news than the fire was the letter he wrote to the arsonist.

On Good Friday you tried to burn our building down. Hear me carefully. I forgive you. We—The Salvation Army in town—forgive you. The Lord Jesus Christ forgives you. I know this is true because on Good Friday he said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

You tried to hurt us—hurt us bad. Only a person deeply troubled, only a heart in grievous pain, only a mind confused and tormented, only a soul devoid of wisdom and hope would consider—let alone do—such a thing. To you who seek relief by making others suffer, hear this word. I love you, and I’m coming for you.

Starting today I’m making courtesy calls on every bar, gathering place, hotspot, tent city and under every bridge. I’m coming for you, but not to condemn you. I bring you an offer of forgiveness, reconciliation, hope, and life everlasting in Jesus Christ. When we meet face-to-face, come to Jesus. He is ready to forgive and give you a new life.

I’m Captain Beau Perez. I am The Salvation Army. This message is approved by the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Awaiting your reply, Captain Beau Perez

True to his word, Perez has been visiting bars, tent cities and bridges in search of the vandal.

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