The Suffering Atheist Who Received $400 from Christians

Some of you may have seen this story earlier when Gospel Coalition highlighted it. I missed it, somehow. It’s quite remarkable. An atheist locked in a battle with Christians over a Nativity Scene was shocked when, in the midst of public conflict, a local church gave hundreds and hundreds of dollars to help pay for his medical expenses.

Here’s the story from the Athens Review:

A few weeks ago, Patrick Greene of San Antonio, was known in Henderson County simply as a professed atheist who threatened to sue Henderson County about the courthouse manger scene. Greene’s experience with Christians was of narrow-minded individuals who had treated him unkindly throughout his life.

“My wife and I had never had a Christian do anything nice for us,” Greene said. “Just the opposite.”

That changed when the 63-year-old learned he had a detached retina. Greene was forced to give up driving his Yellow Cab, and resign himself to his impending blindness.

Eye surgery would cost $20,000 he said, and he didn’t even have the money to pay bills or buy groceries.

Jessica Crye, a member of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens, learned of his troubles on the Internet, and felt compelled to help.

Crye’s pastor, the Rev. Eric Graham, contacted Greene to find out more about his needs.

…Greene said he was “flabbergasted” to learn that a group of Christians in Henderson County was reaching out to help an atheist, who in February had informed Commissioners Court that he would sue if the manger scene reappeared this year.

“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.”

Read the whole story. It’s encouraging for at least two reasons: 1) Christians being godly and Christlike and 2) an atheist getting to see that firsthand.

  • Levi V.

    This is great, but at the same time I think it reflects poorly on Christians that this event is so publicized. When one church donates some money to a person in need (no matter how big or small the amount), the last thing Christians should be doing is saying, “Look, see? We’re not all bad!” We are called to help everyone who is in need, and just as we should not discriminate in our giving against those who have different beliefs than us, we should also not use acts of kindness toward those unbelievers as validation, credentials, or publicity. Even in the title, this man is singled out as the “Atheist” – something other than Christians who has been a thorn in their side with his banishing of a nativity scene and overall disbelief. The whole point of this story (and by “story” I don’t mean just this article but all the media coverage of it), is to show that the big, bad atheist was wrong about Christians and it was so wonderful that they helped him. I’m sure that man has caused some of his own problems because he is human and he is flawed, but so are we, and I’m sure he’s right in believing that some of those flawed humans that call themselves Christians have also hurt him and made his life harder. Perhaps a better title and viewpoint for this story should be “Human Beings Help Another Human Being in Need Because That’s What We Are Called to Do.”

    • ostrachan

      I’d have to disagree, Levi. I posted the article to do my tiny part to show that grace is real and alive. It comes from the cross, from a savior giving himself–literally his blood–for his enemies.

      It’s tremendously encouraging to me to see Christians doing the same today, and it makes me want to be a more compassionate Christian.

      Hope that makes sense. Happy holidays, Levi.

  • Rusty Yates
    • ostrachan

      I do hope that he repents and believes in an ultimate sense, Rusty. But the act of compassion itself is a witness, a testimony, and has value. That’s what I wanted to highlight, and that’s what the story showed.