Twelve years after a man robbed the InterAsian Market & Deli in Nashville at gunpoint, he returned the money with an anonymous letter asking for forgiveness.
The InterAsian Market & Deli primarily handles cash transactions, since it does not accept credit or debit cards. In 2001, the store's owner Keosavanh Xayarath was told to give the money in the register to a man who was pressing a gun to his chest. He did so without hesitation, and never thought he would see the money again. His family was shocked to find that the man had returned what he had stolen in an envelope twelve years later.
"Nobody expects to get robbed," said the store owner's son, Somboon Wu - "but this is totally even more unexpected." The man had stolen around $300, but repaid $400 with hand-written note which read:
"I am a drug addict. About 11 or 12 years ago I robbed this store with a gun. I do not use drugs anymore and I feel I must make amends to the people I have hurt in the past ... when the register opened to give change I pulled out a gun and took about $300 from the register, then drove away in a white car. I hope you will accept this money and find forgiveness."
The anonymous man signed the letter, "Peace be with you" - a phrase seen throughout the Bible, and in particular one that Jesus Christ used to assure His disciples that they did not need to be afraid when He had been resurrected from the dead (see John 20:19, 21, and 26).
The underlying reality of a drastic life-change is likely the most shocking aspect of this story - something must have occurred in that man's life to lead him to return the money and to ask for forgiveness. The note indicates that he is no longer addicted to drugs - an amazing feat in itself. Just how did this man turn from habitual sin and hope to receive forgiveness from the store's owners?
While we do not know that man's story, former Korn guitarist Brian Welch had a similar drastic life-change when he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The rock star was addicted to Methamphetamines, and he knew that he needed help - "I couldn't stay sober...I didn't know how," he said in an "I Am Second" video.
One day, Welch's realtor came to him and said that he had felt lead to read Matthew 11:28 to him: "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (English Standard Version). Welch later came to church with him, and prayed to receive Christ as his Savior. That day, the guitarist came home from church, snorted some drugs, looked up and said, "Jesus, if you're real like that pastor said, then You've got to take these drugs from me. Come into my life, come into my heart ... search my heart."
In that moment, Welch says he overwhelmingly felt the Father's love. "I don't condemn you," he felt Him say to his spirit - "It was so powerful that the next day I threw away all my drugs and I quit Korn ... my heart was changed like that." Welch had been made new - 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
The owners of InterAsian Market & Deli say they are in awe of the former addict's humility - "It's just, it's amazing. It's inspirational really, for somebody to have the courage, to come back and face the person you've done wrong," they said. The man who has turned from threatening violence to offering peace may have received what Jesus offers the redeemed in Colossians 3:15a:
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body."