Speaking to reporters in her lawyer's office in Atlanta on Sunday, Ms. Smith said that while Mr. Nichols held her hostage, she asked if she could read. He consented, and she fetched "The Purpose-Driven Life" from her bedroom.
"I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day," Ms. Smith said, according to a transcript posted by CNN.com. "It was Chapter 33. And I started to read the first paragraph of it. After I read it, he said, 'Stop, will you read it again?' "
Chapter 33 is titled "How Real Servants Act." "It mentioned something about what you thought your purpose in life was," she said. "What were you - what talents were you given? What gifts were you given to use? And I asked him what he thought. And he said, 'I think it was to talk to people and tell them about you.' "
Later, she added, "After we began to talk, he said he thought that I was an angel sent from God. And that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ. And that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot people."
(By the way, I'm glad that someone like this knows to have a lawyer!)
Nichols, I assume, must believe very deeply in his purpose by now, because so many people have now, through him, learned of Smith and her highly effective book.
It was the fifth-biggest seller last year at Barnes & Noble stores around the country, and though it had recently ranked about No. 50 on Amazon.com's hourly list of best sellers, by early yesterday evening, after Ms. Smith's comments received widespread publicity, the book jumped back into Amazon's top five.
It's currently up to #2 on Amazon. While huge numbers of people were already devoted to the book, many more are hearing about it now and feeling motivated to read it after seeing Ashley Smith on television yesterday.