A South Carolina pastor was stabbed with a pair of small scissors on the campus of his church as he sought to save a 61-year-old stranger nearby who was being attacked. He urged prayers for the suspect, calling him “a very disturbed, mentally ill, and spiritually oppressed person.”
The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, the rector of Church of the Holy Comforter in Sumter, said he “was able to avoid most of the blows, and the only injuries were a couple scrapes to my right arm and one somewhat deep puncture just above my right wrist,” according to a statement he wrote to his congregation.
“The worst part was the 6 or 7 hours spent in the emergency room to get a tetanus shot, some antibiotics, and some bandages,” Kaiser said. “We both are going to be fine, and the assailant is in custody.”
He further clarified, “Given the circumstances, I don’t believe this has any bearing on your safety at church, but rather speaks to a much deeper mental health and perhaps substance abuse problem in our community at large.”
Police apprehended the 31-year-old suspect, a man who identified as transgender and gave officers his made-up name, Zendaya Fox-Smith. Police were able to identify the suspect through fingerprint records and charged him with "first-degree assault and battery, third-degree assault and battery, malicious injury to personal property and providing false information to police," The Sumter Item reported.
Describing the attack, the rector said he witnessed someone attacking an elderly man who was walking a dog by the church campus, and as he tried to defend the victim, the suspect took out a small pair of metal scissors and attacked Kaiser.
The rector said the incident has its upsides.
“As I often say, I don’t get to meet as many non-Christians as most of you do. Yesterday, I spent time with police officers, hospital staff, and others intrigued by the preacher who got stabbed. I’m happy to bear that title if that’s what it leads to,” he wrote.
“Even better, two young ladies drove up to say that they saw what happened. These two wonderful people asked if they could pray for me right there as the police surrounded us and people driving down Main St. looked on. Not only did they pray for my healing, they prayed for the assailant and for the witness of Holy Comforter. That was the only time I cried during the whole affair. God is good all the time!”
Kaiser also wrote the church needed to “pray for our police officers and sheriff’s deputies.”
“They deal with these situations far more than we realize,” he explained. “Pray for those in mental illness and spiritual darkness, and for appropriate resources to help them. Most of all, pray for what I believe is a very disturbed, mentally ill, and spiritually oppressed person. I don’t know what will happen with the legal system, but I trust our law enforcement and public officials to deal with it appropriately.”
The rector ended his note to the church members with a prayer: “Almighty God, whose Son took upon himself the afflictions of your people: Regard with your tender compassion those suffering from anxiety, depression, or mental illness, especially this assailant; bear their sorrows and their cares; supply all their needs; help them to put their whole trust and confidence in you; and restore them to strength of mind and cheerfulness of spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”