In what the man of God now describes as a "miracle," a Suffolk County, N.Y., pastor who was four days into a week-long fast with his church found the strength to arrest an alleged drug-addled burglar who surprised him at his office when he showed up to prepare for an early morning prayer meeting last Thursday.
Pastor Mike Jankowski of Lamb's Chapel Outreach Christian Ministries in Suffolk County told The Christian Post in an interview on Monday that even though he was weak and fatigued from four days of fasting during the ordeal, God gave him the strength to subdue the alleged burglar and pray for his salvation while he waited for police to arrive.
"I feel like this guy broke into a building that the church uses but it was the love of Christ that apprehended him and I feel like that needs to be our DNA as the body of Christ right there," said Jankowski, who said he has asked local prosecutors to be merciful to the alleged burglar, whom police have since identified as Brian Cook.
Jankowski explained that about six weeks ago, the church had suffered a similar break-in and he asked his congregation to join him in prayer to ask the Lord to help them catch the culprit.
"When that happened six weeks ago, the next Sunday, I got up in front of the congregation in both of our services and I just said, 'listen, whoever did this obviously is in a bad place. Let's pray that God would bring this person back in some way, so we can help them and minister to them and maybe they would come to know the Lord. And so our whole congregation prayed and that was it."
Last Thursday, it was Mr. Cook who showed up donning a full black get-up, including a ski mask. The pastor explained that shortly after he arrived at his office, he heard suspicious sounds in the church's general office and decided to check it out.
"I probably should have called 911 at that point, I don't know why I didn't but, I went into the office, turned the lights on and I'm face to face with this guy who is sitting at my wife's desk, she's part-time in our office, he's sitting at her desk and he's got a black jacket on, black leather gloves, a black hoodie and a black ski-mask. So all I could see were his eyes," recalled Jankowski. Frightened, both men screamed and the pastor jumped into action and tried blocking Cook from escaping when he was forced to hold unto him.
"As I grabbed him, I just said, 'I'm not gonna hurt you but I'm not letting you go,'" said Jankowski.
A wrestling match ensued between both men during which the pastor managed to dial 911 and scream to the dispatcher on speakerphone that he needed help. Cook blasted through a glass door with the pastor still hanging on to him and both men rolled out unto a sidewalk through the broken door.
"I grabbed him and I'm just praying 'God just give me the strength'. So I was able to take him down onto the sidewalk. He was facedown. I was laying on him. I had my forearm across the back of his neck. I kinda wrapped his legs up and kind of did like a scissor hold. I'm not a wrestler but I just brought his legs into mine and just held him so he couldn't get up," said the pastor.
And that's when Cook began to wail about not wanting to go back to prison and Jankowski was moved to minister to him. "I just started saying '…God loves you and we love you and there's a plan for your life you don't have to live like this. You don't have to make these choices.' I just kept doing that. I asked him his name and he told me," said Jankowski.
"After that he was still wrestling to get up but it wasn't with the intensity that he had before," he added.
A church member and the police arrived shortly after that and provided the pastor with some well-needed assistance.
"I did not expect the Lord to provide an opportunity like this," said Jankowski. "It was like 0-100 in one second. I just want the Lord to be glorified in this whole thing you know. And the last chapter of this story has not been written yet," he added.
In hindsight, he said, things could have gone differently and he is thanking God for protecting him. "I started thinking about my wife and kids and my 3-week-old granddaughter that's when it hit me how bad that could have ended up but God was with me," said the relieved pastor laughing. He noted that he and his congregation prayed for Cook and his family on Sunday and are believing God for his redemption.
Cook was arraigned last Friday on a burglary charge. His bail was set at $5,000.