Staying calm under extreme pressure was the first order, the second, disarm the perpetrator – and then Pastor Larry Wright faced the challenges head on with alacrity. “I asked him, ‘Can I help you?'” asked Wright. “He said, Can you pray for me?” And with that, Wright took the rifle and passed it to a deacon. Once he knew the man had no additional weapons in his possession, he asked God to help him and bless him. “He (the gunman) fell to his knees, and he began to weep,” said Wright. 

It all started just 20 minutes before the new year.

Pastor Wright was preaching to the congregation – when the door to the North Carolina church swung open, and in came the gunman with a semi-automatic assault rifle in one hand, and loaded ammunition clips in the other hand. Pastor immediately stepped down from the pulpit and walked toward the unidentified man in the middle of the church sanctuary – it was then that he noticed his eyes – lonely and withdrawn.

After disarming the gunman and praying, Pastor Wright went back to his sermon. The gunman sat in a pew toward the front of the church for the completion of the service. “It’s so hard to describe, to explain the excitement and love of God in the room. This man came in to do harm, and he has given his life to Christ,” said Wright.

It was later discovered that the man was a military veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD; he was not taking his medication, and under tremendous stress as his wife was just recently diagnosed with a serious illness.

“He got the gun because he was going to rob to get money,” Wright said. “He was going to do what he had to do to take care of his family.”

The following Sunday, the man returned to Wright’s Heal the Land Outreach Ministries in Fayetteville with a request. He wanted to join the church and be baptized. “He embraced me, and I said, ‘Thank God,'” stated Wright. “It could’ve went a whole different way.”

The Next Leap Forward

Godly intentions? Miracle? Fate? Oddly enough, Pastor Wright was talking about gun violence at that very moment when the gunman entered the church. At first the congregation thought the gunman was a prop, that perhaps their pastor wanted to emphasize the point – and then they realized this was ‘real life’.

Let this be a wake up call. America’s veterans are suffering at a larger scale today, more than ever before.

It’s reported that as many as 22 veterans die every day due to suicide. Further, there is not a week that goes by where I’m not talking about veteran homelessness on national radio.

We are failing our veterans!

These are the same men and women who risk their lives and upend their family lives – so that you and I can live in freedom. We must do more to help our veterans – period. No excuse is good enough. Interestingly, this veteran needed to be heard. He later confessed that an inner voice sent him in to the church before he committed any crimes.

The vet had said it was the Lord who had told him to go to the church prior to doing something wrong. To which I say, AMEN!