A Billings pastor went to court Thursday to offer forgiveness to the man who stole his pickup last November.

Jose Angel Flores, 33, has admitted that on Nov. 7, he stole a Ford F-150 pickup belonging to Fred Rodda, who is pastor of Living Water church at 4119 Clevenger Ave.

Two days after the theft, Flores was arrested in Brookings, S.D. When confronted by a sheriff’s deputy there, he claimed to have bought the truck from a “young black man” for $200, according to court records.

Dressed in a jail jumpsuit and wearing handcuffs, Flores appeared in Yellowstone County District Court for sentencing Thursday. Before Judge Mary Jane McCalla Knisely sentenced Flores, Rodda took the witness stand and read a statement.

“Mr. Flores, I want you especially to know that no matter what the outcome of these proceedings, I forgive you and I would welcome getting to know you in the future,” he said. “I hope and pray that you are able to meet the Jesus Christ that I know, and that your life would change forever.”

The pastor mentioned he recently finished teaching a four-week series on “the real F-word,” which he said is “forgiveness.”(Is it is best to say forgiveness instead of having people thinking interchangeably about a cuss word and having people think you are talking about a cuss word from the get go)

“So therefore Mr. Flores, I forgive you. I hold no grudge or ill will toward you.”

Karen Kay Damron, another defendant who was sitting in the courtroom and had just pleaded guilty to robbing or attempting to rob five local casinos, wept as the pastor spoke.

Knisely, noting that Flores has a 14-year felony history as an adult, followed the sentencing recommendation made by Flores’ defense counsel and the state.

She sentenced Flores to three years with the state Department of Corrections, and ordered him to pay $5,932.95 in restitution to Rodda’s insurance company for damage done to the pickup.

Flores, looking straight at the pastor, agreed to meet with him and apologized for stealing the truck.