Through divine providence, a courageous pastor in Fayetteville, North Carolina, managed to talk down a man with a semiautomatic rifle and a magazine of ammunition who made his way into the pastor’s church on New Year’s Eve.
Larry Wright, pastor at Heal the Land Outreach Ministries, is a 57-year-old veteran who serves on the Fayetteville City Council.
The man with the rifle walked into the prayer service wielding his weapon and was greeted by the pastor, who simply said, “Can I help you?”
The service in progress was attended by some 60 members of the community. They all stood with bated breath, wondering what the man — who so far not been named by Fayetteville police — was going to do that night.
“If he was belligerent, I was going to tackle him,” Wright later told the Fayetteville Observer.
The questions remain: What was going to happen next? And why was the man there?
Thankfully, however, no one suffered any harm and no one had to physically disarm the man who entered the church.
The man, who was recently released from prison and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, peacefully turned over the gun to the pastor.
The man then asked the community to pray for him. In a remarkable turn of events, the man underwent a conversion then and there during the service.
“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.”
“It’s so hard to describe, to explain the excitement and love of God in the room,” Wright told CNN. “This man came in to do harm, and he has given his life to Christ.”
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When police arrived, they took the man into custody. He was voluntarily committed to a mental facility, local news stations have reported.