From Ryan, a recent gun donor:
This Winchester Model 61, a slide-action .22 caliber rifle, was passed to me by my father, after being passed to him by his father. All three of us Nazarene ministers. All three of us captured by the teachings of Christ, seeking to follow him.
I grew up in a gun-owning family culture, where hunting, and gun safety, and target shooting was normal. I received my first guns in early adolescence, instilled with a sense of respect for firearms, firearm owners, firearm handling, ammunition and maintenance. I have hunted, albeit sporadically, to the present day.
The stock on this rifle is broken. It symbolizes the breakdown in my family and in me.
I learned to love profoundly from my grandfather, from whom I received this firearm. I learned to love, mostly as he went about loving me. And my sister. And my wife. And my daughters. But there were veins of fear in him. As there are in my father. As there are in me. He slept with a handgun next to his bed. I don’t do that, but I sleep with a mind that is just as fearful–far more often than I want. Intentions that are violent. Actions that are selfish. Thoughts that are hateful.
One night, my fun-loving uncle burst into my grandparent’s bedroom while they slept. He surprised them with one of the spark-shooting toy guns. My grandfather reached for his handgun, thinking my uncle was an intruder. My uncle saw this and yelled out. Unbelievably, no one was hurt.
I have experienced a profound dissolution of fear, deep within, by the grace of God. It began 12 weeks ago this weekend. A transforming entry into Light and Love…into The Christ. Emerging from a claustrophobic tunnel into a bright and spacious land.
Others all around me,
To this earth and the created order,
To an imagination full of transforming peace that continues to heal the fundamental anxiety in me and in my human brothers and sisters.
I submit this metal and wood to be renewed.
Tilling our soil instead of firing bullets.
The tool emerging from this firearm will remain at Emmaus Road. I am submitting another rifle that will become a garden tool used at our home.
To the Christ, I offer myself–broken like this gun’s stock–that I might be remade into something beautiful.