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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Eddie Contreras

A Quarter of and Inch From Death

Last September, an agitated 20-year-old man walked into a Friday night meeting at Walnut Park Asamblea de Dios in Garland, Texas, as Youth Pastor Eddie Contreras preached about keeping the faith in turbulent times. Moments later, Contreras lay unconscious from a .38-caliber bullet wound. The alleged shooter has been charged with attempted murder plus aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is awaiting trial. Contreras, 39, recently spoke with Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy about the shooting and its aftermath.

evangel: This happened during the regular Friday night youth and college and career group gathering?

CONTRERAS: Some of his family members were active in the church, and his sister was in the service. When I was preaching, my wife received a call from his mother asking if it was OK to bring him to church for prayer. He opened the door and had 3-year-old twins with him. I was preaching about Paul and Silas being incarcerated and beat up, but how they never stopped praising the Lord.

evangel: Some of the attendees thought you had incorporated this into the lesson for dramatic impact.

CONTRERAS: I sometimes do skits to keep it interesting. He started screaming, “You guys are a bunch of fakes. I don’t know why you believe in God.” When he started cursing, people realized this wasn’t a skit. Then he pulled the gun and started waving it at the youth. Then he shot me.

evangel: How close were you?

CONTRERAS: He was about three feet away, and he aimed the gun at my head.

evangel: How did you keep from being killed?

CONTRERAS: I believe God allowed me to raise my hand at the last second to make the bullet take a different path. The bullet came through my palm, went into my left cheek and came to rest in the right side of my neck. I fell on the floor.

evangel: He didn’t shoot again?

CONTRERAS: My wife, Nora, was in the back of the room and saw this man lean over my body with the gun. Nora told his mother not to let him shoot me again. His mother pushed the gun away. I was in the intensive care unit for three days.

evangel: Did you sense imminent death?

CONTRERAS: I thought I was going to die. I was weak, but at peace and conscious. I prayed, “God I was just preaching about Your power.” I started feeling stronger. I prayed out loud for this man’s life and soul. Blood was coming out of my neck and cheek. I was in great pain.

evangel: An ambulance took you to a hospital.

CONTRERAS: I had surgery on my neck and hand for eight hours at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

evangel: Did you sustain any permanent damage?

CONTRERAS: Healing is a process. My voice gets raspy, but it doesn’t bother me. The doctor said if the bullet would have moved a quarter inch either way I would have bled to death.

evangel: What has been the impact on the young people who witnessed the shooting?

CONTRERAS: It impacted their prayer lives tremendously. The unity of the youth has been amazing. This generation has a hunger for God.

evangel: What lessons did you learn from all this?

CONTRERAS: God has a purpose for my life. One of the main blessings has been that the shooter wrote a letter of apology to his sister for rebellion against God and the church. He told her to tell me he was sorry for what he did. He gave his life to Jesus in jail, and now understands that Jesus loves him.

We may make long-term plans, but we need to make sure we prepare as if Jesus is coming back at this moment. We need to live in holiness; there may not be time to repent.


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