The Story: According to the Athens Review, an atheist who had threatened to sue a Texas county over the display of a nativity scene says he is “completely flabbergasted” that Christians from that same county provided him financial assistance for a medical problem.
“My wife and I had never had a Christian do anything nice for us,” said Patrick Greene. “Just the opposite.”
The Background: Last month Greene, an activist with a long history of bringing lawsuits related to public displays of Christian imagery, threatened to sue Henderson County if county officials allowed a nativity scene to be placed on the courthouse lawn next Christmas. Greene had intended to represent himself in the lawsuit, but dropped the threat when he discovered he had a detached retina and may lose his sight.
“There is no way for me to go up there if I'm blind,” said Greene, who lives in San Antonio, nearly 300 miles from the Henderson County courthouse. Greene said he has no insurance to pay for an operation that might save his sight, and can't even pay for the exam that will confirm the diagnosis. “Why waste the money if I can't do anything about it,” he told the local newspapers.
When Jessica Cry, a member of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens, read on the Internet about Greene's troubles, she felt compelled to help. Cry told her pastor, Rev. Eric Graham, who contacted Greene and inquired about how his church could help with the surgery.
Greene told Graham he had a more immediate need. “I said, if you really want to contribute something to help, we need groceries,” Greene said. [. . .] “I told my wife about it,” Greene said. “They're going to help us?” Karen asked. Greene thought that if anything, he'd see $50, maybe $100. A few days later, the Christians made good on their promise, and sent a check for $400. “I said I can't believe it,” Greene said. “I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.” The money went to help pay the rent, and provide necessities from the grocery store. The contributions didn't stop at $400 either, Cry said. More money is coming in. Greene is so amazed by the generosity of the Christians in Henderson County, he's sharing the story through the media, and is thinking about writing a book. “I'm going to call it the real 'Christians of Henderson County, Texas,'” Greene said. “These people are acting like what the Bible says a Christian does.” Greene plans on publishing the work as an e-book. “I'm dedicating the book to my wife, the young lady who started the idea, and Reverend Graham.
Why It Matters: Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). But far too often we get bogged down in fighting faux cultural battles (like the “War on Christmas”) and forget that the “enemies” our Lord commands us to love are also our neighbors. When we take the time to show concern and charity, as the Christians in my former home of Henderson County have done with Mr. Greene, it can melt the hardest of hearts.
“I have decided to show my appreciation to the Christian community for all their help, and I am going to buy a star for the top of the Nativity scene,” says Greene, “ You people can figure out how to plug it in.”