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Vickie Williams-Tillman — a 21st century Good Samaritan in more than one way

Vickie Williams-Tillman (right) Credit: Baton Rouge Police Department

Vickie Williams-Tillman (right) Credit: Baton Rouge Police Department

Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, a black Christian woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana was on her way to the store when she saw a white police officer, Billy Aime, being assaulted by another man.

She was also doing what she normally does when driving, Vickie was listening to Gospel music.

The police officer had come upon the man sleeping in his vehicle. When Aime saw drug paraphernalia in the car he woke Thomas Bennett, 28. However, after getting out of his car, Bennett quickly gained the advantage. He grabbed Aime’s baton and began beating the police officer on the head.

Bennett was also after the police officer’s gun.

When Vickie saw the confrontation, she immediately called the police for help. But she did more than that. She got out of her car and jumped on Bennett’s back. This caught Bennett totally off guard, confusing him and hindering him from grabbing the gun.

When another police officer showed up a few minutes later, he subdued Bennett with a stun gun. The police charged Bennett with assaulting a police officer and possessing cocaine.

In an interview with The Advocate, Vickie said that a number of people had driven by, seen the confrontation, and did nothing:

“It was something that went through my soul. You don’t think about the risk. I could see in his eyes he needed help. You don’t have time to think about it …. I did what God needed me to do.”

In a ceremony honoring Vickie, Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome said:

“Vickie Williams-Tillman epitomizes the true Good Samaritan. She reached out and offered a courageous and unconditional response to the officer. Ms. Williams-Tillman is a hero and demonstrates the true meaning of loving God and loving your neighbor.”

But though Vickie went out of her way to help a person in distress, there is another odd parallel to the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37.

In the account, Jesus said that a man who had been set upon by robbers was lying injured on the road. A priest and a levite saw the man, but actually walked over to the other side of the road to avoid him.

Only a Samaritan had stopped to give aide, bandaging his wounds and transporting the injured man to an inn where  the Samaritan paid the man’s keep until he recovered.

What made this story so unusual is that Samaritans and Jews were utter enemies. The Jews despised the Samaritans.

The Samaritans were half Jewish and half Gentile. When the Assyrians captured Israel, they hauled off many of the Jews into captivity. The Assyrians then brought many other ethnic groups into the Jewish homeland who of course brought along their pagan idols.

Eventually, the Jews and Gentiles began to intermarry and out of this developed the Samaritan and a religion that incorporated both Jewish and pagan elements (2 Kings 17:26-28).

When the Jews returned from their captivity in Babylon, the Samaritans tried to halt the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and the temple (Nehemiah 6:1-14).  They maintained their own separate identity in the region of Samaria and even built a quazi-Jewish temple on Mount Gerizem — an affront to Jewish authority.

Samaria also gained notoriety as a region criminals fled too to avoid Jewish authorities (Joshua 20:6-7).

This long-standing hatred of the Samaritans brewed and by New Testament times, the Jews equated the Samaritans with being possessed by demons (John 8:48). But despite this divide, Jesus reached out to the Samaritans (John 4:6-26).

So what made the Good Samaritan story so unusual was that someone so despised had stopped to aid a Jew, while other Jews had done nothing.

Of course over the past few months, we have seen Blacks and other activists taking to the streets protesting what they call police brutality of blacks. Protests have turned violent resulting in states of emergency in some communities.

But despite this growing animosity and even hatred, here is a black Christian woman going out of her way to help a white police officer — a true Good Samaritan.



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