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A taxi driver and self-proclaimed atheist who had once planned to sue to have a nativity scene removed from the courthouse lawn says his perspective has changed because of the love he and his wife were shown. Patrick Greene said he thought the placement of a nativity scene in front of the local courthouse was unconstitutional, and he planned to use the legal system to force its removal. Then a sudden decline in his health changed his plans. Greene began losing his sight due to a detaching retina. Since he could not drive taxi anymore, and was facing surgery with no health insurance to cover it, Greene decided to withdraw the lawsuit to focus on necessities.

When a Jessica Crye, a member of the local Sand Springs Baptist Church, heard the news, she called her pastor to tell him about the lawsuit being dropped and to ask if their church could do anything to help the Greene family. Her pastor said he thought the church had already been given the command to help, so he said yes immediately. Crye began an effort to send help and support to the Greene family right away.

At first, the Greene’s would not take any help to pay for the surgery, but agreed to accept help with bills and rent payments. At one point, he asked the church to stop giving, but the gifts kept coming anyway. Greene told reporters he had never had a Christian treat him the way the Sand Springs Church did. The only believers he had encountered before that were people who refused to pay their cab fares because they didn’t want their money going to the “devil.” He said the believers he knew had done a lot of things to him, but had never loved him. He added, “Our own families have totally forgotten our existence, and strangers –Christians and atheists form around the country—are helping us. One of the things Jesus said was to love your neighbor as yourself. These people are acting like real Christians.”

The Greenes said they expected Christians to help them only if they decided to convert. Crye said Greene told her he and his wife were moving to the same area as the church and would attend services sometimes, even though he has not changed his beliefs. She said Jesus has called Christians to love not just their neighbors but also their enemies and to love both without conditions. Crye added, “That’s what God called us to do. It’s very against our nature to one, love people, and two, to love them unconditionally. If we’re not, they’re what Jesus is like. They’re seeing that view that Patrick has always seen.”

--Atheist shocked when church helps with bills, http://gofbw.com/news.asp?ID=13921, April 17, 2012, Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell

John 13:34-35 (CEV) But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples

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