Rayford Pridgen has never been a great fan of unsolicited telemarketing, any more than the rest of us. But the events of February 16 of this year were almost enough to change his mind.

Pridgen, a 77-year-old Baptist pastor, was out for his morning walk and decided to stop by his church office in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, he surprised an intruder inside the church. The intruder beat him with a billy club until he nearly lost consciousness, then pulled the phone cord from the office wall and bound his arms behind him before robbing Pridgen of $4.00 and his car keys.

In and out of consciousness for an hour and a half, Pridgen finally came to long enough to work his hands free from the cords. Blinded by his injuries and weakened from loss of blood, he began crawling down the hall to find a working phone. To make the situation even more desperate, Pridgen was recovering from open-heart surgery and was on blood thinners, which made his blood loss even more severe. Just as he was about to collapse, a phone began to ring.

Unable to stand to reach the receiver, he finally found the cord and pulled the receiver down to the floor.

It was a telemarketer, calling from Atlanta, hundreds of miles away.

The pastor told her he was hurt and needed help, and gave her the phone number of a church deacon who lived nearby. The telemarketer made a three-way call, urging the deacon, Vance Allison, to hurry to the church. Then she stayed on the line, soothing Pridgen and keeping him calm until Allison rushed in, where he found the pastor slumped on the floor, covered with blood.

Pridgen was raced to the local hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

No one ever got the name of the telemarketer who saved Pastor Pridgen's life.

"You know, some people might think it's coincidence, but we're Christians, and we know it to be otherwise," Vance Allison says.

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