A Long Island pastor dealt with an alleged robber in an unusual way last week, praying out loud for the man he found breaking into his church.
Newsday reported Friday that Pastor Michael Jankowski of Lamb’s Chapel was startled when he walked into his office Thursday morning to find the place trashed– and a man clad in all black with a ski mask rummaging through his desk.
“We just scared the daylights out of each other and both screamed,” Jankowski recalled.
Though he is in the middle of a week long fast, the 6-foot-1, 250 pound pastor reportedly tackled the intruder, grabbing him by the collar while calling 911 with his cell phone.
“I’m not sure if the police are coming or not, so I just started to tell him we loved him and God loved him,” Jankowski said. “I said there was a different way to live. He didn’t have to live this way — that there was hope for him. And he was crying and shouting that he wanted to die. I prayed over him — loud. I had a captive audience.”
Jankowski said the alleged robber, now identified as 43-year-old Brian Cook, was clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. Cook kept saying how he needed to leave, and the pastor responded: “We care, but you’re not going.”
The tussle eventually went through a glass door and onto the sidewalk, News12 Long Island reported, the pastor all the while telling the robber that he doesn’t have to live this way and that God loves him.
Suffolk County police eventually arrived and arrested Cook. He was arraigned Friday on a burglary charge, and his bail was set at $5,000.
But Janowski still has hope for the alleged burglar.
“We knew that to break into a church, you’re pretty much hitting bottom…I feel that whatever time he serves he can get help and come out a different man, and it’s a home run for everybody.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.