Durham church trailer stolen en route to Mexico-Texas border, supplies returned by the truckload

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thieves nearly spoiled a Triangle church's trip to the Texas border.

Congregants at the Cole Mill Church of Christ in Durham had planned to deliver warm clothing to migrant families stuck at the US-Mexico border this holiday season.

Except when they made a pit stop in Houston, crooks rolled away with their fully-packed trailer.

RELATED: Church van en route to help immigrants stolen in Texas

"We had hope in our mind," said Luke Smith, who helped organize the clothing drive and drive down to McAllen, Texas. "Let's think about the wise men that took gifts to baby Jesus."

He was waiting for his wife to fly in and while they were at the movies at a Houston mall, the truck was stolen. Luckily, the father of Ben Fike-- senior minister at the Durham church-- preaches at a church in Houston and was able to help.

"They put an appeal to members from their church and just the larger community down there in Clear Lake and in Houston," Fike said. "They just let them know the story-- that this is what happens and to see if there was they could get more clothing donations."

Donations poured into that church by the truckloads and Luke and fellow congregants were able to drive down to the border with more things than they initially had.

"I think it's just brought out a lot more awareness to those families and to some of the needs that are there," said Fike. "You intended this for evil but God intended it for good-just one of those reversal types of stories. There's the theft that happened but there's this goodness that came in response to that that has even overwhelmed the feeling of the theft."

The initial idea came from Fike's sermon about John the Baptist.

"The sermon that day was about how we should look outside of the walls to people who are not always at the manger scene," said Luke Smith. "We thought about the immigrants at the border."

Houston Police found the trailer and the truck-- the donations had been rifled through but were still there. The church said it hopes to get the supplies delivered to the border as soon as possible.
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