Monday, October 26, 2009

"There's A Man With a Machete in Our Church!"

Well, I just figured I would share the most memorable night of our Fall Challenge Week (revival). People usually remember revivals because people come to know Christ; or marriages get saved; or passion is rekindled in their spirits; or God moves in a spectacular way. But we will remember this one for a totally different reason.

FCW goes from Thurs night to Sun morning. Thurs night was fairly normal revival, good attendance, good worship, good movement of God upon His people, and a great start to our week. But then on Friday about halfway through the speaker's message, a man somehow ended up in our building. He was really drunk, and he had one of those strap-on deer-hunting flashlights on his forehead. AND he was carrying a big machete!

For a few minutes he walked up and down the back hallway screaming and beating on the doors with his machete. One of the doors that he knocked on was the door to the nursery, where the women and children were, and they opened the door to see this guy with his machete looking back at them. Needless to say, they were terrified! Slamming the door they began to text message several people out in the church for help.

Well, it was church, and so everyone's phone was off or on silent. So they were trapped. Not good, with a possible deranged killer loose inside the building. Eventually this guy found his way into the back door to the choir loft behind the pulpit, and he stumbled right in to the worship service with his light and machete, about 10 feet from the pulpit. Needless to say, this was unnerving to lots of people. And Erika was elbowing me and punching me, telling me to "do something!"

The light on his forehead distracted most people from the large machete, and so most of them didn't see it. So nobody was panicking yet (except Erika and the ladies in the nursery). After I decided that this wasn't a skit to go along with the message, I found the biggest guy in the church, and told him to come with me. (I needed someone to tackle him that was bigger than me)

We went to the hallway, and told the man to come to us out of the sanctuary. He wouldn't! And he wouldn't give us the machete. So, I did what any brave pastor would do--I told my big deacon to watch him real close, told the other deacon to go check on his wife, and I went to get my gun from the truck and call the cops (not necessarily in that order).

By the time the deputies got there (less than four minutes, but seemed like forever, kudos to all my boys and the TCSO), the man had changed his mind, given us the machete, come out of the choir loft, and said he needed to find a restroom. And right before they arrived, one of our men in the church, who happened to be a neighbor to this guy, came back to fill us in (where were you the last ten minutes!!!!).

He said that this guy was like the town drunk, lots of substance abuse issues, and probably just needed a ride home. And so we said, you go and see. And so he went into the restroom, and talked a bit, deputies arrived, and we got that guy a ride home. Not in handcuffs, much to dismay of my nursery workers, but out of our church all the same. What a night! And I stepped into the sanctuary just in time to pray the closing prayer as if nothing happened, like anyone believed that!

It makes me smile now (because I don't believe that this man's intention was to hurt or scare anyone), but then it was really scary. None of us wanted to be on the news the next day. In our day, you just don't know. Don't think many people remember much of the sermon. But we did learn how ill-prepared we were for just such an event. And there are many changes to come about how we handle things like this, and much preparation is in order. We are also very grateful to God for His mercy upon us. For even though this guy was very drunk, and very confused, this could have gone really bad. We are encouraged that Satan us using strategies like this to distract us, and trust that something big in the Kingdom is on the way.

Please pray for us as we continue to deal with the after effects of an event like this. Pray that we forgive, fix our eyes upon Christ, refuse to live in fear, and prepare in wisdom for future events. Hopefully we never have to deal with such an event, but in my short pastoral ministry, this has now happened twice in six years.

Help us, Lord, to live and handle situations like this in a way pleasing unto You!


  1. reminds me of something that happened at Living Stone. What is with you attracting this kind of craziness!?!

  2. This man is an immediate family member of mine. I do thank you for the grace, goodwill, and mercy your congregation showed him that night.

    I am so very thankful no one was injured, and God Bless.