When Isaac Booker broke into his Dallas church and stole $3,000 in cash and thousands more in jewelry, he never imagined he'd end up returning to the sanctuary like the prodigal son.
But, after hearing his pastor's voice on the radio telling the biblical story, he said something inside him changed.
"I just did what I felt in my heart, for my kids that I have to raise," Booker said on "Good Morning America" today. "I needed to be accountable. I've never been accountable in my entire life."
So at the invitation of the Rev. Rickie Rush, Booker appeared before the Inspiring Body of Christ Church congregation to confess. Many church members already knew him from the surveillance-tape image that had been all over the news.
"I was just excited to know that God had opened the door to let us do what we preach to do," said Rush, who appeared with Booker on "GMA." Rush said he knew someone was listening who could identify with someone wanting to return home when he gave the speech Booker heard.
Immediately after his office was broken into, Rush told his congregation and the community he wasn't interested in pressing charges, only ministering to the thief. He asked — without knowing it was one of his congregants — the burglar to come forward and encourage his parishioners to forgive.
"I received a phone call one day. A man said, 'Pastor Rush, I'm [the] one who broke into the church and I want to come forward,'" Rush said.
Booker agreed to sit before the church and discuss what happened with Rush alongside him.
"It was a lot of things that went through my heart. First it was fear," Booker said. But, then seeing the warm and open welcome the parishioners gave him made him feel more at ease, he added.
"You're going to fail — and I am going to tell you why you are going to fall — and that's to see how many people can pick you up," Rush told the congregation.
Among the loot Booker stole were watches donated by Dallas Cowboy safety Roy Williams, who is a church member and was not convinced Booker's ways had changed.
"I forgive you, but I'm still bitter toward you because you broke into my pastor's office," Williams said choking back tears while addressing Booker during his confession. "I broke down and cried in that office and you broke into it."
But Rush encouraged his flock to forgive Booker and help him.
"If we could help to understand the why," Rush said, "I think we should separate the person from what he did."
Booker said he sees his confession as a move in a positive direction.
"I took a big step. I also know it's a process. It's been a big, big experience for me," Booker said.