This appeared on Friday on page A22 of the New York Times. Summit City Project students taking it to a whole new level:
Queens Thief Didn’t Count on Missionaries
“The thief who snatched a taupe, buckle-covered bag from a young woman with a glossy black ponytail and designer sunglasses on Thursday afternoon in Queens might have thought it would be an easy crime…
He most likely did not expect the firefighter who came sprinting after him, throwing him off balance. Or the two strapping church missionaries, young men visiting from North Carolina, who hurtled into the fray and tackled him to the ground.
One missionary, Andre Aganbi, 19, a student at Duke University, had spent the day on the plaza with his church group peers from Durham, reading the Bible and chatting with passers-by about God. “We were sitting right there, so I just jumped up, and as he tripped, I threw him to the ground,” he said.
Mr. Aganbi, who pounced on the man along with Mark Haywood, 21, from the church group, said he had glimpsed something polished and brown in the pocket of the man’s cargo pants.
“He started slowly reaching for his pocket,” Mr. Aganbi said. “By the time I thought about it, he grabbed the gun, pointed it at someone who was behind him, lifted it up and shot it, and ran.”
Within 10 minutes, the police had roped off the area. On the trash-strewn plaza, which had been cleared of people, behind a barricade of yellow caution tape, a bullet hole and the shooter’s navy baseball cap remained.
And the young missionaries.
Their arms around each other in a prayer circle, they stood by as their two friends were taken aside for questioning by detectives. With an almost eerie level of calm, each of the young people thanked the Lord.
“If anything had happened to Andre or Mark, they would be going to heaven, and they would be rejoicing with our Lord, because they trust in Christ so completely,” said Katharine Batchelor, 18, who was traveling with her peers on an eight-week mission from the Summit, a church based in Raleigh, N.C.
Her voice trembled. “It’s just a beautiful thing,” she said.
Local residents and shop owners were far less stoic… But the missionaries were still cheerful, even as some climbed into a patrol van for more questioning at the precinct. As they headed out, the two young men joked about the tense phone calls they would be making to their parents that night.
“What did you do today?” Mr. Aganbi said, pantomiming the call. “Hung out, chased some guy, almost got shot. Shared the Gospel.”
That’s how our mission teams roll at the Summit Church. Part witness for Jesus, part Batman.