Pastoral Care for Robbery Victims

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I know two families who've recently had their homes broke into. Identification and some electronics were the primary targets. Of course much more is 'stolen': their sense of security and privacy, and their ability to feel at peace both at home and away. The 6-year-old boy from one of the families told his grandma, "Our home was broke down." How have some of you cared for members in similar circumstances? 

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Community Builder

 We have been robbed twice.  Once just the car was broken into and some electronics were stolen.  The other time a person entered our home when we were deep asleep walked past our bedroom, took some electronics and the keys to our car.  The car was stolen and found a few days later.  We were not harmed.  It is an odd feeling.  

I noticed few aspects of our journey through that moment. First, I believe that what it revealed was our persistent vulnerability. Our response was not to make ourselves less vulnerable (get more security features in our home), but to recognize that we had two fundamental values:  a) that to live in community with neighbours means we must be vulnerable. We can not say I trust you and than create secure walls.   I want my neighbourhood to be a safe place because we have mutual care for each other.  How this works can be different in different neighbourhoods, but being a neighbour does mean being vulnerable.  b) that my security ultimately depends on the providential care of God.  No wall could protect Jerusalem unless the Lord was its defender.  No wall needed to protect Jerusalem when God was its protector.  so part of the process was a recognition that our lives were and are in the hands of God.  Second, we need to deal with our sense of attachment to our homes and things.   Trust me I enjoy my home and am grateful for many things.  But to hold things "lightly" rather than "tightly"  is an important part of our spirituality in this world.  The robbery in our life was a reminder. Third, we did ask ourselves: suppose this were to happen again ...  what would be a better place to keep the things that need more security.  I don't leave my keys on the kitchen table anymore.  A little bit more control.  

It seems to me that most often when electronics are stolen people are looking for cash - usually for drugs, sometimes because of desperate circumstances.   That may mean that one response is to notice that there is a need in the neighbourhood that need addressing.  It is not just security.  It may be a place for youth to go and be mentored.  It may be helping to develop jobs for people in the neighbourhood.  I don't know.  I do know that it can't be helpful for the neighbourhood if we go behind our secure walls.  Taking back the public space and developing neighbourhoods requires engagement not retreat.  Maybe part of the healing process is to recognize the need and engage in ministry.  

I would love to hear from others.  

Neil

Community Builder

We've been broken into and had things taken.  You describe the lessons and the feelings well!  One of the wonderful things that happened was that friends came over and prayed with us, including prayers for protection for the house and for my wife when I traveled.  That meant a lot, and the memory is still wonderful and powerful 30 years later.

In our particular situation, we were in a highly fragile and disconnected urban community.  We felt no circle of support from neighbors.  The pastor of our church made it a point to be aware of our situation, and to take it into account when he related to us.  That was very helpful too.