Sandie kissed her children as they went into the nursery and put on her nametag that identified her as an official greeter at the church. She loved this job because she got to meet visitors and ‘spread the love’. As she walked away, her husband watched her disappear around the corner in her bright flowery sundress and smiled as she pushed her riotous wavy hair out of her face.
Grant and Paine Thorn held tight to their son’s hand and approached the woman with the greeter tag hanging around her neck. Sandie did not see as they all nodded in silent agreement that she was ‘perfect!"
The Thorn’s jumped in, attending regularly and taking part in everything the church offered. In fact, Sandie saw the couple everywhere she went, Bible study, choir and even youth group Wednesdays. The only reason this was strange was that the church was quite large. Overall, she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were always watching her. It would not have been so difficult if they didn’t regularly pick fights about random things.
On Thanksgiving Day, they arrived uninvited to Sandie and Bob’s house with a covered dish. Bob let them in with a questioning shot to his wife and the couple piped up, “We didn’t have anywhere to go, so we decided to come here for Thanksgiving.”
Sandie’s mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water, but her husband said, “We always prepare an abundance of food… the more the merrier! Please join us.” Sandie hoped this would make things better, but the couple became increasingly difficult.
Later that year, Sandie signed up for the Women’s Retreat in Prescott, AZ. Paine Thorn signed up too and put Sandie down as her preferred roommate. The leadership committee had planned an activity for the women to get to know each other and Sandie’s partner was, yep you guessed it, Paine! “Oh boy”, thought Sandie with a sigh, “give me strength, Lord!”
The women sat as each person had to say something nice about the person they were joined with and Sandie grimaced as one woman said, “Well, I don’t know you, but I like your sweater.”
She braced herself when Paine rose and met the eyes of the group. “I want you all to know something about Sandie.” Closing her eyes Sandie braced herself for what was to come.
“With Sandie, what you see is what you get!” Lifting her eyes to the woman’s face, she lifted an eyebrow and frowned. What was she talking about?
Paine answered the non-verbal query; “My husband and I were militant Atheists when we came to the Church. It was our identity, and we hated Christians!” She looked around the room full of Christian women and shook her head, as if to say, how did I get here?
“So, Easter Sunday we decided to perform an experiment. Our 'mark' would be a goody two-shoes Pollyanna, and it just so happened Sandie fit the bill perfectly. I mean…” She laughed pointing at the woman she’d personally tortured for a year, “look at her!” Sandie’s jaw dropped, her eyes widening in horror as the woman continued, “We even recruited our son in on the experiment, and I’m told he gave a magnificent performance.” She laughed until she saw the look on Sandie’s face and continued quickly.
Dumbfounded the women sat and listened to Paine. “Do you want to know our first calculated attack? We showed up on Thanksgiving, unannounced, and they actually pulled out more chairs and set a place for us. We didn’t want to stay for Thanksgiving; we just wanted them to say we were not welcome! Experiment over.” Paine Thorn went on to say, how disappointed they were that all of their attacks were failing, so they kicked it up a notch with calculated arguments.
Paine finally stepped forward and touched Sandie’s shoulder, “Thank you Sandie for not giving up on us! Right before I left for Prescott, Grant and I accepted Jesus as our Savior!”
The names have been changed, and though this story is bizarre; it is completely true. Twenty years later, Paine, Grant and their son are all still active lovely, Christians.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35, NIV
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