A North Carolina pastor has described how a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder walked into a church with a high-powered assault rifle and asked the pastor if he could pray for him.
Pastor Larry Wright, who is a retired Army drill sergeant as well as a city councilor in Fayetteville, N.C., told the Fayetteville Observer that he was conducting a New Year's Eve prayer service at Heal the Land Outreach Ministries when the unidentified man walked into the sanctuary with the gun in one hand and an ammunition clip in the other.
"I asked him 'can I help you?'", Wright told WRAL-TV. "[The gunman's] next words were 'can you pray for me?' When he said that, then I knew everything was going to be all right."
Wright took the man's gun and patted him down to be certain there were no other weapons hidden on him. The man was invited to sit in the front pew, then approached Wright after the service.
"He gave his life to Christ," Wright told the Observer.
Police then arrived, and the took the man to a local medical center at his request. He does not face any charges in connection with the incident.
On Sunday, the man returned to the church to apologize for the scare he had caused. He told WRAL that his wife has just been diagnosed with a debilitating illness and the couple are in dire financial straits. The man added that part of his struggles with PTSD come from an inability to afford his medication.
"I saw in his eyes hopelessness, hurt, pain, despair," Wright told WRAL Sunday.
Congregants told the station they have made plans to baptize the man next Sunday, should he return.
"I pray that he comes back and visits us," church member Lucrecia Hall said. "I’m not scared of him, not now."
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