Daily Archives: April 26, 2014

If Christ can forgive a thief so can I

Christ to thief today Paradise

Three days ago my wife, Karen, and me, became the victims of cyber crime. The security program we were led to believe would protect us didn’t. We would learn through a Microsoft Systems Engineer that the criminal was given an open door, because  on April 1st Microsoft stopped coverage with Microsoft Essentials for those who have Windows XP. I clicked on what I thought was a legitimate email from Yahoo. It wasn’t. Within a short time I am receiving many phone calls that our computer is hacked. I relive the pain of that invasion into our lives as I repeat my story.  I don’t want to answer our phone. I grow weary of saying the same thing again and again. My frustration digs deeper.

After changing my password and security questions I notify as many people as I can, only to find that the cyber thief removed all of my email addresses from my Yahoo account. I scan my sent emails to assemble as many email addresses as I can, so I can inform as many of my contacts as possible, not to open any suspicious emails alleging they come from me.

This is the email I sent out.

ATTENTION: My Yahoo account was hacked. All my contacts were removed from my account. I have changed my password. Please ignore this or any email asking you to send me a loan to get me out of trouble or anything that you deem suspicious. I clicked on what looked like a legitimate email from Yahoo. It is a scam to extort money. This is the email that is circulating. My apologies for any inconvenience this has caused. -Kevin

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I Hope you get this on time, I made a trip to (Turkey) and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and personal effects therein. The embassy has just issued me a temporary passport but I have to pay for a ticket and settle my hotel bills with the Manager.

I have made contact with my bank but it would take me 3-5 working days to access funds in my account, the bad news is my flight will be leaving very soon but I am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let me leave until I settle the bills, I need your help/LOAN financially and I promise to make the refund once I get back home, you are my last resort and hope, Please let me know if I can count on you and I need you to keep checking your email because it’s the only way I can reach you.
Thanks,

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We awake after over 20 hours of dealing with this intrusion with an emotional hangover. We feel like people who have had their personal belongings stolen by a thief robbing theirhome. We are wounded inside. There has been a rape to our souls. It is a violation of our privacy. We feel like someone filled with darkness and evil has sought to dampen the light of Christ within us.

I admit that my first thoughts are anger and then  rage. How dare this cyber criminal invade our lives! I say to Karen fuming, ” I’d like to have just five minutes alone with this person!” I am hurt inside that this disgusting email has been sent out to all of my contacts, my sister, Valerie,  many friends and fellow colleagues among them.

The gnawing stress causes me to forget the new password for both my Yahoo and alternate Gmail accounts. I say to a Yahoo computer technician, “This invasion into our privacy has unravelled us.” He says with a caring heart, “I do understand that.”

A loving Christian brother writes a private message to me on facebook that really makes me think. “Blessing brother. We know that these are frustrating issues as there are always those who will seek to steal. We love anyways!”

I immediately find myself asking God to give me the willingness to forgive and carry out that forgiveness in my heart., The image comes into my mind of the thief who rebukes the other thief for offering scorn and ridicule to Christ.

My thoughts about this are shared in an email from a safe account with a dear friend and Christian woman, who possesses a beautiful life-inspiring faith and a passionate love for her Lord and others. This is an excerpt from that email.

I expressed to a Christian brother that I was really ticked off about the whole experience. I think he was making a reminder for himself in saying we need to pray for these people. Somewhere along the way they took a path that led to this criminal activity. Perhaps, when I have had time to pray about it and calm down, I will be able to write an open and real piece about my feelings, and my call to forgive those responsible for hacking our computer.
I am reminded of Frank Abagnale Jr., who was portrayed in the movie Catch Me if You Can. A teenager who wrote millions of dollars in phony cheques, was a confidence trickster and impostor is caught and becomes a consultant in cheque forgery for the F.B.I. He then went on to have his own security consultancy business.
We should never say that even the vilest offender can’t be redeemed. Jesus said to the thief hanging on the cross with Him that when death came, he would be going to Heaven.

” One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”  But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”  And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43, NASB).

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If Christ could forgive a thief who robbed from others, who killed the innocent child within them, then so can I. Have I arrived at fully forgiving the cyber thief? No. I’m still hurting inside. I’m still feeling that rape of my soul. The inner child of joy within me has been attacked. That child has been abused all over again. Memories of a dark time in my life resurface. My schizo affective father’s abuse causes me to put emotional walls around myself. As a young man my trust is abused by some Christian leaders and friends I believe in.

I thank God for those who have always been supportive of me. They love me enough to say the hard things I need to hear. These mentors are helping me grow fully into the man of God my Lord wants me to be.  I am a man of God under construction.

I could put myself on a pedestal. I could say that I am better than the cyber thief, but I am not.  I am a sinner. I am deserving of Hell for my sins. In the pain of recovery from my abuse I have said hurtful things to people I care about. If there was an erase button for all those terrible things I said, I would press it. Here is the wonderful news for me, the cyber criminal and all of us! We have the gift of God’s grace wrapped in the red bow of Christ’s redemptive act of death on the cross.

Let me be perfectly clear. All thieves deserve punishment. If the F.B.I. kept Frank Abagnale Jr. in prison instead of offering  him the opportunity work as a consultant in check forgery to learn that conning people was no game, that he was hurting innocent people, what good is accomplished?  Frank lived a lie. With his sharp intellect, possessing a photographic memory and the fact that he looked ten years older than his age, he was able to play the roles of being a lawyer, doctor, multi -millionaire and an airline pilot. Frank knew that he would be caught. He says at his numerous speaking engagements, “The law sometimes sleeps, but the law never dies.”

Frank has gone on in his life to be a blessing to many. There are videos on you tube where he speaks about how you can protect yourself from identity theft. He has saved companies billions of dollars He shares his knowledge of how to protect them from fraud and embezzlement. Frank has given inspirational speeches at many venues charging nothing for the sharing of his thoughts about his life, family and what it means to be a man.  He credits his wife, Kelly, who he married in 1976, with saving his life. He and Kelly have three sons, Scott, Chris and Sean.  He  started his own company, Abagnale & Associates, which educates others on how to avoid becoming fraud victims.

Quoting from his biography on the web site for Abagnale & Associates:

“Mr. Abagnale has now been associated with the FBI for over 35 years. More than 14,000 financial institutions, corporations and law enforcement agencies use his fraud prevention programs. In 1998 he was selected as a distinguished member of “Pinnacle 400” by CNN Financial News – a select group of 400 people chosen on the basis of great accomplishment and success in their fields. In 2004 Mr. Abagnale was selected as the spokesperson for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). He has also written numerous articles and books including The Art of the StealThe Real U Guide to Identity Theft and Stealing Your Life.”

I could continue listing his numerous accomplishments, but then that would be shrouding what is his crowning achievement. Frank has become an honest man.

Listen to Frank Abagnale Jr. share his heart about how sorry he is for his actions. It takes a great deal of courage to stand before others and say I’m sorry for how I have hurt others.  It takes an inner honesty and strength I admire, to say you can never do enough, to make up for the harm you have caused, in killing the child of innocence in others.

I offer this prayer to all of you. Loving and merciful Heavenly Father, help me to forgive the cyber criminal who invaded our privacy. Convict all who harm others of how destructive their actions are. Forgive us for the damage we have done to others in thought, word or deed. Mend the wounds that are inflicted on people’s lives. Bring all those who commit crime to justice, which always includes Your mercy. Father, help us to forgive ourselves for how we have hurt others. Tell us what we can do to bring healing to those we have injured. We thank You that we can all be forgiven through the greatest act of forgiveness of Your Son’s death on the cross. Through Christ’s atoning act of love we can repent of all the awful things we have done in our life. We can embrace a new life of hope, love and a radiating joy!  Amen.

The con artist has the hope of being rehabilitated. We can all become caring and forgiving people. If Christ can forgive a thief, He can forgive you.

Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/frank-abagnale-20657335#imprisonment-and-later-life&awesm=~oCDVxusXBNuSoK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Abagnale

http://www.abagnale.com/aboutfrank.htm

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