COLUMBIANA, Ala. (WIAT) — The elderly congregation at Columbiana Church of Christ hired Paul Martin as their pastor about nine months ago.
This week, they fired him.
John Harper considered himself to be one of former pastor Martin’s closest friends. He lives next door to Martin.
“He really led us to believe that he was a good guy,” Harper said, “We really believed in him. We didn’t know any different.”
During the course of 9 months, Harper gave Martin about $1,000 dollars in cash, bought Martin groceries and cooked dinner for him. He did all of this to help supplement the meager pastor’s salary Martin received — or so he was told.
“We would just say, ‘Look, instead of a formal tithing to a church, we’ll just give you money,” Harper said.
Where that money went became clear to Harper when Martin totaled his car several weeks ago with his teenage daughter inside. Both made it out with only minor injuries. Harper said Martin was high on drugs at the time.
“It sounds pretty scary to me to stick any kind of needle in you,” Harper said.
He hopes someone will reach out to Martin to help him into a rehabilitation program. For now, he says, all he can do is pray.