As a youngster I grew up in a permissive household. My father was an alcoholic, abused my mother and my mother was his enabler. For most of my childhood my mother worked in bars as a barmaid. AT age 12 my mother finally decided to divorce my father and the reign of terror was over! I however, was left with the responsibility of being the “man” of the house. I was the oldest of 4 siblings, Because of the lack of a father in my live. I found myself hanging in the bar where my mom worked. For myself there were many “knowledgeable” father figures to get advice from. I also found my mother enabling my weakness and “family disease” of alcoholism. I would go to that bar, take a friend or two, and we would drink. By eighth grade I had found “romance” and the first and only love of my life. I was attending a local church/arcade/ youth group designed to reach out to troubled youth, like myself; I met a girl there (that by the grace of God today I call my wife.) She came from a broken home as well as I did and there was an instant respect and understanding for one another. Obviously, because of both of out backgrounds with abandonment, and various family issues, we became sexually active by age 15.
My senior year of high school, I being 17 and her being a junior 16, we found ourselves expecting our first of what would later be 3 children. It was a scary time for us. Her mother was not very understanding and this was an atomic bomb we were about to drop in the Smith household. To add to our insecurities, I was to leave for the Army right after graduation. Fortunately neither one of us believed in abortion so we had our little boy. My girlfriend still had a year of school left at this point and all I did was work, go spend time with my son and sleep. My son lived with his mother and grandmother. This arrangement was taking a toll on us so we found an apartment, moved in together and six months later started our lives together as a husband and wife.
The early years were the best and simplest years of our life. I remember one of the greatest joys we had as a new couple was picking out an apple battery powered clock, apple pot holders, and apple towels for our kitchen in our 2 bedroom upstairs apartment! Unfortunately, when you are running from God and have inner demons (alcohol) the happiness does not last! We ended up with 3 children, I had a good job as a union carpenter had bought a ranch style house that I loved working on, and bought a new mini van, we had the American dream!
Tragedy struck our lives in a huge way and sent us into a tailspin that we have only recently recovered from. As a result we had to put a man in jail for 6 years. This turned our world upside down, and sent everything spiraling out of control. Our finances were already in decline. This ended up being the final straw. We ended up bankrupt, lost everything and spiritually and emotionally hallow.
My wife had been a believer all of her life, but because of my state, she fell with me and we all crashed hard. WE spent the next few years in a new school district, a rented house, attending church at times because it was the “right” thing to do. Our church life was even unsteady as we changed churches twice in a search for God. On October 2009 that all changed, we attended a Power Team event. They were to be there for the entire week and of course my two teenage boys wanted to watch stuff get pulverized! We went to the shows as a family 3 out of the 6 nights they were there! To me it was fascinating to watch those animals tearing stuff up, especially in the name of our savior Jesus Christ! This was not the acts of normal men, most men don’t cry, don’t share their feelings, and especially show no weakness or mercy! (so I thought!) The first two nights I was resistant to the calling of Jesus to my life, but by the 3rd day I was in complete surrender and submission to him.
Since that Oct. night 2009 there has been a great stirring in my heart to use all my gifts and talents for God; and my family and I have come to agree that we want to serve as a family in camp ministry! That is our desire and mission as long as we’re on this earth. I want to serve God; to be his hands and feet , and love Him with all my heart, soul and mind!!! Amen!