Travel agenct charged with stealing from church group

Bond set at $100K
September 10, 2008 4:42:18 PM PDT
A judge set bond at $100,000 for a travel agent accused of stealing money from a suburban church.Parishioners belonging to the Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip say the travel agent they entrusted with more than $21,000 is stole their money.

They rehearsed songs of praise Tuesday night. Members of the Lighthouse Church say they are devastated that their trip to the Ukraine has been canceled and their money stolen. But their faith, they say, is unshaken.

"The money, honestly, was never the issue. We were not worried about how to get our money back. It really wasn't our money. We sow seeds in order to go and reap the harvest our country," said church member Sherri Hastings.

They began planning a missionary trip to Odessa, Ukraine, a year and a half ago. They raised money. Each of the members contributed $1,800 out of their own pockets.

They planned to bring supplies to widows and orphans. They had several events planned. But they learned hours before their flight was to leave Monday, the travel agency Hi-Gate Travel and the agent, Jobe Charles, had allegedly taken their money and never bought the airline tickets and didn't offer a refund.

"The most fearing moment of my ministry was the moment I had to look at that man. He was desperate. I do not believe he meant us harm. I just think he got caught up. I said I can't think about you. I have to think about my flock," said Lighthouse pastor Dan Willis.

Charles is charged with theft. They say they can and have forgiven the suspect.

"God knows best. You know, he knows best," said church member Sandra Holli.

The pastor says that Charles told him he used the money that the church paid to pay off another debt. The church has already forgiven Charles.


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