Charles Worleys words and Suzy Gestres deeds both offer guidance on the treatment of outsiders.
Who deserves the bigger audience?
Last Sunday, some 1,200 protesters and supporters gathered in Catawba County to debate Worleys May 13th sermon. In it, the pastor of Providence Baptist Church of Maiden said gays should be kept behind electrified fences. A video of the preachers remarks went viral on YouTube.
On the same day of the Worley demonstrations, a memorial service for Genevieve Suzy Gestre drew 28 mourners and a miniature poodle to a small Asheville church. No one shot or posted a video.
Suzy died May 18. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday this Christmas. She moved to the States from her native France in 1964.
While Sorley talked of camps, 70 years ago Gestre and her husband risked everything to keep three members of a Jewish family from being sent to one.
In July 1942, Robert and Suzy Gestre spirited 8-year-old Annette Rappoport out of Nazi-occupied Paris.
A week later, collaborationist French authorities unleashed La Rafle, the infamous roundup of thousands of Jewish women and children who soon disappeared into the Nazi gulag of extermination.
Annettes mother was among them. In all, 14 members of her family died in the camps.
Annette? She lived in the Gestres village home for most of the next five years.
During the war, her father later hid there for a year and a half. Her cousin stayed for several months.
The Gestapo was a constant threat. Claudine Kurtz, Suzys now-grown daughter and a close friend of my wife, remembers soldiers with black guns and boots searching the home. Somehow the family always got word in time to spirit Annette away.
Had they been caught, all of the Gestres and Rappoports would have died.
In 1994, Suzy and the then-deceased Robert received one of Israels highest honors, the Medal of the Righteous. Their names are inscribed in a memorial garden wall at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.
Suzy, according to her daughter, spoke little about her actions during the war.
It was an easy decision, she often said. It was the right and natural thing to do.
Maybe. On the same day and in their own ways, Charles Sorley and Suzy Gestre again remind us how our beliefs can unite or divide.
The Talmud, though, tells us this: Whoever saves a life, saves a world.
Annette is now 78. She married an Auschwitz survivor. She and Claudine consider themselves sisters and best friends.
I asked my brother, who speaks French, to call her in Paris.
She saved me, Annette Etlinger said of Suzy. I have two children and four grandchildren and I owe that all to her.
During Suzys funeral, one of her friends said she told him toward the end that she had grown so old that God must have forgotten about her.
Not likely. Suzy Gestre saved lives. Suzy Gestre saved the world.