Turning the other cheek works for little town battling atheist outsider

The out-of-towner who had threatened to sue over their nativity scene was stricken blind. But nobody cheered. Instead, they pitched in to help him out.

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Then, the story takes an ironic turn. He called another news conference and told reporters that he had learned he is going blind. He

was going to have quit his job — and he did not have health insurance.

“The 63-year-old learned he had a detached retina,” writes reporter Rich Flowers of the Athens Daily Review newspaper.   “Greene was forced to give up driving his Yellow Cab. Eye surgery would cost $20,000 he said, and he didn’t even have the money to pay bills or buy groceries.”

Enter Jessica Crye, a member of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens. She “ felt compelled to help. Why not turn this into something else?” she told the Tyler Morning Telegraph  newspaper. “This is a great opportunity to turn the other cheek and show God’s love.”

Erick Graham, her pastor, said they didn’t have time to think or pray about the decision.

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“We don’t discriminate on who we help, whether they are Christians or non-Christians, church members or not,” Graham told the Morning Telegraph. “We just help those with a need.”

Graham contacted Greene to find out more.

“I said first of all, I don’t want $20,000,” recalls Greene. “That would be ridiculous, because there’s a chance the surgery would fail. On top of that, there’s a chance it could become detached again.”

Instead, Greene told Graham he had a more immediate need. “I said, if you really want to contribute something to help, we need groceries” – at least until he is able to start collecting Social Security.

Greene hung up and told his wife about the phone call.

“They’re going to help us?”  Karen asked.

Greene and his cat

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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