My name is John W. Smith Jr., and my salvation came first when I was about 11 years of age. That was what I call “my mother’s salvation.” We were all told to join church and to become saved. And the salvation came when I didn’t really understand it.
I stayed in church, and I was in church throughout all the rough years, but I wasn’t true to what God was telling me to do.
I went away, into the military at 18 years of age. I saw a lot of things go on with young people and their lives, and coming to Christ. And even during that time I didn’t want to give my life in the way that I thought I should have, to Christ.
Coming up in a family that was required to go to church, through those years in the military I kind of fell away from church. I didn’t go to church as I should have, because I felt as though I was grown. The things that I did was because I wanted to do them.
Had I just listened to the Spirit of the Lord . . . I knew what my mother and my father were doing for me at that time in my life, I knew it was good. But I chose to be that rebellious child up until, really, my 30’s.
When I look back on the things that happened while I was in the military - stationed out in Texas at one point, I was in a car accident – about 3 o’clock in the morning. The car that I was in, we were traveling about 75 to 80 miles per hour. The driver – intoxicated. I was thrown out of the car. I didn’t have a broken bone. I didn’t even get a scratch on me.
Still yet, at 21 years of age, I didn’t see to give God my life, where I really understood Him. And the fast life was there in a large period of my life.
Then in 1998 I was getting a divorce. And that was the hardest thing. A divorce came in mainly because I chose to be out there, wanting to do the things that the world was continuing to do. It was just a thing of being able to come back to where my mother had me.
God, He’s good because the things that He did in my life, even when I think and look upon all the hardships, they were only trying to make me a better person. And it has, in a sense, made me a very good person.
I know there is still work to do in me, and always will be. But I’m able to sit down with my parishioners and we are able to talk because I’m able to understand where they are, especially divorcees, single mothers or single parents, ones who are without. But I always let them know that there is a Father in Jesus Christ that they have. We can always come back. It doesn’t make a difference how far we go out, we can always return to where God has us and wants us.
I thank God for His salvation because had it not been for Him, there’s no telling where I would be today.