New Year’s Eve could have turned into a tragic story when a man entered a church in North Carolina with a gun, intending to commit a terrible crime, but instead he ended up giving his life to Christ.
The Land Outreach Ministries in Fayetteville, North Carolina, led by Pastor Larry Wright, was confronted by a man with a gun and Wright says his first instinct was to tackle the man and prevent harm to others.
“I’m the first person to see him and when I saw him, I thought it was a dummy gun, but then I saw the bullet clip in his hand and the bullets were shining,” he said. Instead, Wright stayed calm and told the local paper, the Fayetteville Observer, that he walked up to the man and said, “Can I help you?”
Wright told the newspaper that if the man was antagonistic, he was going to use his 6-foot-2, 230-pound, retired Army sergeant body to tackle the armed visitor.
The man asked the pastor if he’d pray for him and the night turned into a testimony of salvation instead of night of bloodshed. This would-be shooter ended up listening to the rest of Wright’s sermon. Wright took the man’s weapon and handed it to a deacon.
“I finished the message, I did the altar call and he stood right up, came up to the altar, and gave his life to Christ,” Wright said. “I came down and prayed with him and we embraced. It was like a father embracing a son.”
The unidentified man said he had come to the church intending to do harm, but God had spoken to him, telling him to seek prayer instead.
The man had recently gotten out of prison and was trying to start his life over.
“It’s so hard to describe, to explain the excitement and love of God in the room,” said Wright. “This man came in to do harm and he has given his life to Christ.”
He told the pastor he had just gotten out of prison, had a new job and a new bride. The man looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s, Wright said.
Sylvester Loving, a 67-year-old deacon, told the Fayetteville newspaper that the church was talking about gun violence when the man entered.
“I think that night the spirit of God was definitely in the place,” Loving told the Observer.