CASTLE HAYNE, NC (WECT) - Pastor Randall Smith at Castle Hayne Advent Christian Church returned to lead the Christmas service, two days after suffering a stab wound.
As he lit each candle on the advent wreath to celebrate the birth of Christ, he knew he had another lesson to teach his congregation; forgiveness.
"This is the season of love. We can't hate. We can't hold bitterness in our hearts and feel the love that God wants for us at Christmas," Smith said.
Two days prior, Smith was stabbed in the stomach by a man who police said demanded money.
"I didn't feel threatened when this guy walked in. In fact, I invited him in. He told me he was cold, and I invited him into the church fellowship hall. And, things just went crazy," Smith recalled about the incident. "I don't know why it happened. I've played it over and over again in my mind, and I hope he gets help. I really do, but I can't afford to stay bitter in my heart and be able to share what I need to share."
Smith said it was important to return to work as quickly as possible to celebrate lighting the advent wreath on Christmas morning, a tradition at Castle Hayne Advent Christian Church.
He said his family and friends are worried for his safety, but Smith said he won't let the incident hinder him from fulfilling God's calling.
"When they told me not to go to church by myself anymore, I said I can't do that. They looked at me and said, 'go in and lock the door'. I said, 'I can't do that either,'" Smith said about the concerns from his family. "If somebody comes in these doors and needs help, I might be in a part of the church where I don't hear them. I would hate to know that somebody was turned away."