Pastor who lost sight in gunfight gains new view on life

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MUNFORD, Tenn. — A pastor who was hurt in a shootout with a suspected car burglar at his north Shelby County home says his faith is stronger than any pain he’s experienced.

“What happened was literally a miracle, for him to not be killed,” said his wife, Diana Frans. “When I heard that first shot, I thought, you know what, it’s over. He’s gone.”

Pastor Brett Frans was at his Covington Pike home with his wife the night of Jan. 14 when he noticed a suspicious vehicle in his driveway and went outside to see what it was.

Johnathan Lee

Police say Johnathan Lee was the man inside that suspicious vehicle. They say he was going house to house, stealing items from cars.

Frans said when he confronted Lee in his front yard, he was holding his gun at his side. He said Lee was very short with his words — and he said Lee fired first, unloading shot after shot.

“If it had been an inch over, I wouldn’t be talking to you today,” Frans said.

He fell back in his driveway and took a bullet to the face, but managed to get up and call for his wife.

“I did not know if I was even going to make it,” he said. “I expected to die.”

Frans lost all sight in his right eye. Doctors said last week his retina is detached and he will not be able to see for the rest of his life.

His wife said she could hardly believe he was alive when he beat on the door. The shooting has changed their lives.

“I’m literally having to read the Bible to him,” she said. “Any of his books to him.”

Two weeks later, the couple made it back to church full of emotion, and each day they use God’s words to teach and help other victims and even families experiencing pain from the other side.

And they are praying for the man who hurt him.

“We are praying for that young man. Every day,” Frans said. “I can’t imagine if that was my child.  … so we hurt for them. Yes, he caused us a lot of pain. He’s changed our lives.”

Frans said he can’t help but hope his story helps not only those sitting in his church seats, but anyone going through similar pain.

“I’m still in pain every day, every night, but you know, I’m here and I appreciate the fact that God let me live.”

And since he’s alive, he knows his words — “We love because He first loved us” — will now carry more weight than ever before.

“God raised me back up to do a job. He wasn’t finished,” Frans said. “So instead of being the preacher that’s supposed to be dead, I told somebody no, I’m the preacher that’s supposed to be alive. God’s not finished with me yet.”

Lee, who police say was shot in the abdomen during the gunfight with Frans, faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, burglary of a vehicle and a weapons charge. Police said he admitted to the burglary but denied involvement in the shooting.

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