Daisy Rutherford had made the rounds of numerous churches and social service agencies in Gallatin, Tenn. She needed money to drive her two nephews and one niece to Indiana to see their terminally ill mother one last time before she died.
Driving past Long Hollow Baptist Church, "it was like the will of the Lord drove me into the church," Rutherford recalled. Fearing another disappointment, she sat in the parking lot about ten minutes before mustering the courage to walk inside.
"When I went in the door (of the church), I felt like I was home," she said. She was met by deacon Allen Lindsay who provided money for the trip and two Bibles — one for her and one for her sister.
Rutherford made it to Indiana in time for the children to say good-bye to their mother. They returned home on a Saturday night, and Sunday morning they attended services at Long Hollow Church where Gene Mims, vice president of the Baptist Sunday School Board's church growth group, was interim pastor.
Several weeks later, "as Dr. Mims preached that morning, it came over me that this is where I belong. I became a Christian right then," Rutherford said with a smile during an interview in her home.
No longer having transportation to church, Long Hollow members Doug and Lucinda Rountree developed a sign-up list for families to pick up Daisy and the children.
"We call it Driving Miss Daisy," Rutherford grinned. "I don't even have to call to find out who will pick me up. I know someone will be here."
In the weeks since her salvation, Long Hollow has become much more than a place to turn for help.
"These people have become my inspiration. I had given up on faith, but now I want to be in church," Rutherford said. "Everybody remembers my name. It helps me the whole week."
Lucinda Rountree, who has developed a special friendship with Rutherford, said, "When I found out she was at our church, I just felt drawn to her. I'm always thinking about her and talking to the Lord about her. One day we were riding in the car and I told Daisy, 'I need a friend.' She said she needed a friend, too."
Rountree is not surprised at the way church members are helping Rutherford — not just in meeting her needs but in helping her with skills to become more independent.
"At our church, God's love is so evident when you walk in the door," she said. "It would be hard to attend our church and not do anything."
For Gene Mims, Daisy Rutherford personalizes the question he is asking at the Sunday School Board and as he travels throughout the country.
"If you were to lead your next-door neighbor to Christ, would you want that person in five years to become like the average church member?"
Daisy Rutherford is on her way to being far more than average.
"I'm growing as a Christian," she said.