A non-denominational church in my old home town of Greenville, SC, Redemption World Outreach, had an unusual service this weekend. They are one of the largest churches in the largest city in SC, so they see some strange things, but nothing like this.
Sunday morning a “young man of Arabic descent” came to the sanctuary and demanded to give the congregation “a word from Allah.”
“He didn’t get specific about the word. He called himself a son of the kingdom,” said Rick Smith with RWO.
According to church founder Ron Carpenter, after the man was stopped from going to the stage to give his message, “he became unraveled. He began to scream vulgarities out.”
The church security team escorted Iyad Abed Alnazli from the building. Then they found he had left a briefcase in the foyer and backed his car up in a church worker’s spot near the children’s wing of the church building.
At first they thought they were merely dealing with an unstable person (he had recently been treated for mental illness), but then he began to use what Carpenter called “terrorist language.”
According to Carpenter, Alnazil said, “I want to do my job. I want to go back to my homeland.”
The police and bomb squad was called, which blew up his briefcase, but found no explosives. They also investigated his vehicle but found nothing in it either.
The over 4,000 people inside were unaware that any of this was going on inside and outside their sanctuary. A member of the church called in to the local talk radio station this morning, to say that she had no idea about the situation on Sunday during worship.
She also explained that the church has had to have a security team, some of which are armed, in the service and protecting the founder and his family because of numerous death threats.
That is something that I am not used to. I grew up in and attend a small church out in the country and have never heard of a church having a security team.
I talked with a co-worker who attends one of the areas largest Southern Baptist churches and he said they had armed security guards in their church. He said, back when video poker was a big issue in our state, his pastor was one of the leaders in the fight against it. That lead to him receiving several death threats.
I have driven by the RWO church many times. It is on the busiest road in Greenville, right across the road from the main mall and right behind a LifeWay Christian bookstore and a Baby ‘R Us store (both of which my wife visits often).
Several questions, do churches that you attend or know of have armed security teams and guards? Also, does this make you concerned that terrorists are planning attacks on Christian churches?
This certainly caught my attention and made me a little more concerned for my region, not my church neccessarily because the terrorists could never find it.