On this page you can read testimonies of our salvation, stories from our lives, and personal information.


Ronnie- January 22         Marsha -June 25
Anniversary- January 25, 1992

     


  
A brief account of the events leading to my salvation: 
   My mother and father took me to church services until the age of seven.  Then unfortunate circumstances resulted in the divorce of my parents marriage of thirteen years.  I was the youngest of three with two older sisters, Joy and Amy.  The divorce left our family in serious spiritual decay.
  I  hold no resentment toward my parents in any way.  They where young and out of the will of God.  
  The focus on their own life more than the life of their children resulted in the world raising us through the entertainment media and without surprise being introduced to alcohol and drugs at an early age.  
  By the time I was thirteen I was a regular marijuana smoker as well as an alcohol abuser.  Don't ask me how I kept myself supplied, all I know is if I didn't have it I was stealing, lying, cheating and begging to get it.  All the hard drugs where used and I took no thought what so-ever of the consequences.
  I was expelled from high school at the age of fifteen for selling illegally obtained prescription drugs.  I was a minor, and the laws being relaxed on minors in those days, I was given community service and warning.  As long as the court system is getting money they really are not concerned about the drug and alcohol abuse.
  At age seventeen I joined the US Navy  with my mothers consent and headed off for California.  My military career was cut short due to the heavy use of drugs and alcohol.  I was discharged with an OTH (Other Then Honorable) discharge after a brief one year of service.  Between the conviction of drug abuse and my discharge I spent 3 months in the Navy Brig.  I remember crying myself to sleep at night and telling God if He would get me home I would straighten up and live for Him.  Of course these where hollow promises rising out of a heart full of self centered gratification and self-concern.
  When I arrived home there was not much of a change in my life, I went right back to the old friends and the usual routine of getting high. I received two charges of Driving While Intoxicated and spent time in jail for the second offence.  This was a small wake up call but not enough to shake me into my senses.
  When I turned 19 I somehow managed to move to Richmond, Virginia by myself.  I found a room to rent and a job in a grocery store.  God only knows how I made it in such a big city by myself, so young, and so vulnerable to the world.  
  It was during this time that I hit rock bottom.  Living in a run down apartment with two other low-lifes from different states, we shared the apartment rent and lived most of the time without electricity and food.  I lost forty pounds of weight within six months of heavy alcohol and drug use.  I can only praise the Lord for His protection on my life during these months in Richmond.
  I remember laying on the bed one night and thinking about dying.  Where would I go?  Would I spend eternity in hell?  
  My mother, her two sisters, and my grandfather made a Gospel singing tape back in the early seventies.  Mom mailed the tape to me while I was in Richmond.  I remember opening up the package, finding the tape, and shaking my head, just chunking it to the side.  It wasn't anything I wanted to listen to.  That night while I lay in the bed, crying, and thinking of dying, I found the tape and put it in a casette player.  The song went something like this, "Ain't no grave, gonna hold my body down, When I hear that trumpet sound, gonna get up out of that ground."  I remembered hearing about he rapture, the coming of the Lord, and the end times when I was in the Baptist church as a youth.  
  All I wanted that night was my mother.  I can see now that I wanted security and safety.  I wanted peace.  I told God again, if He would get me home I would live good, go to church with my mom, mow the grass, wash dishes, what ever I had to do, I needed some relief.
  I had half of the prodigal sons attitude.  I was willing to go back to the home place, but deep inside I wasn't willing to give up the riotous living.
  The Lord did get me back to Dudley Shoals, NC in one piece and I found me a job at Winn-Dixie.  

   My life began to change when I was hired at Winn-Dixie Grocery store in Granite Falls, North Carolina. . My boss made it mandatory that I participate in a Drug Counseling program offered by the company through the State.  I had to participate in the program to keep my job.  
  While attending a counseling session I made the comment of maybe trying church.  The counselor told me that church was not the answer to my drug problem.   I didn't know what the answer was but if these people where against it, I was going to find out why.  The next Sunday I found myself sitting on the back pew of a Baptist Church in Dudley Shoals, NC.  

  The Night of my Salvation.
  The pastor there was only twenty four and preached with the power of the Holy Ghost.  I sat on the back row fighting off conviction of my sin and wiping the tears from my face as they streamed down.  I couldn't wait to get out of the meeting.
  It was the grace of God that guided me back to that church for several more meetings.  A couple visits later I was in the same shape.  It felt like the world was on my shoulders as I felt the weight of sin bearing heavy on my heart.  I sat on the back pew as the choir sang their songs.  When the singing was over and as they came down from the choir loft I couldn't take it anymore.  The conviction of my sin from the Holy Ghost was bearing down on my heart.  The pastor asked a trio to sing a special song, it was called "I'm Walking A New Road".  I got up from my seat and headed toward the alter.  I don't remember all that was said nor do I remember the prayer the preacher prayed.  As I look back and analyze it now I see the Holy Spirit through conviction drawing me to surrender.  I did surrender to Jesus that night and made him Lord of my life.  Even though I didn't know all what went on, I got gloriously saved.  I knew I was a sinner in need of salvation.  I put my faith in Christ as my only hope of salvation.  I trusted in the shed blood of Jesus that night.
  I had a lost friend with me that night that rode to church with me.  My friend cursed and told me I made a fool out of myself.  I asked them not to curse anymore.  They replied "what are you? Mr. Holy?"  Well, I didn't know what I was, but an hour before they could have cursed up a storm and I would have joined in with them.  Now I knew that kind of language was not right.
  The next morning at work waiting to punch in at the punch clock my heart was beating out of my chest with excitement waiting to tell everyone what happened.  Needless to say no one was enthused about it.  They simply commented that I would get over it.  Well that was December 1989 and I haven't gotten over it yet.  And I don't think I will.
  I surrendered to preach four months later on April 1st 1990 and preached my first message a week later on the radio.  A preacher friend of mine and I preached every Saturday from that time on for a couple years.  We also preached at a homeless shelter every Monday.  We passed out tracts throughout the week, went to every revival meeting we could, protested liquor stores with signs reading "JESUS SAVES" and anything else we felt led to do.
  I enrolled in West Lenoir Bible College in Lenoir, NC graduating after three years and taking a church in Moore Haven Florida.  I pastored there for four and a half years when the Lord laid on my heart to come to Ireland and the rest is history in the making.

 

How God called me to the mission field:

 I surrendered to preach on April 1st 1990.  Four months after I was born again.  I preached my first message a week later on the radio.  A preacher friend of mine and I preached every Saturday from that time on for a couple years.  We also preached at a homeless shelter every Monday.  We passed out tracts throughout the week, went to every revival meeting we could, protested liquor stores with signs reading "JESUS SAVES" and anything else we felt led to do.
  I enrolled in West Lenoir Bible College in Lenoir, NC graduating after three years and taking a church in Moore Haven Florida.  I pastored there for four and a half years when the Lord laid on my heart to be a missionary in Northern Ireland.

  My calling as a pastor in Florida was a blessing and a great learning experience in my life.  When we started at the church we were meeting in a fourteen by seventy Fleetwood mobile home.  Over the next four and a half years we saw several people saved, become good members of the church, and were able to build a church building on the two acres of land that the church aquired.

  As far as our ministry and calling, I was content.  I felt that was were the Lord was going to keep me for a long time.   However the Lord had different plans for me and my family. 
  There were several missionaries that came through our church during 1996 and 1997.  During these meetings the Lord began to deal with me very heavily about leaving our church.  Of course, I didnít have any idea or thought about being a missionary.  I did begin to pray about what the Lord would have me do.  Did He want me to go back to North Carolina and pastor, did He want me to go back to my home church and wait on His direction?  I was unsure about His leading, but I was sure that I was seeking His will.
  The more I prayed, the more God made it clear that I was to go to Northern Ireland and visit a missionary we supported.  That is when all the puzzle started coming together.    I felt the call to come to Northern Ireland as a missionary in February of 1997.  I informed my church in June of that year and stayed with them until they found a pastor.  It was after this that I went home and started deputation in January of 1998.

 

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  New Hope Baptist Church in Moore Haven, Florida  was established in 1990.  The church, like many churches was the product of a church split.  The pastor and several church members of the First Baptist where caught in immoral affairs and this escalated into a division in the church over who was to blame, ultimately causing a church split and the forming of New Hope Baptist Church on the outside of the city limits of Moore Haven, Florida.
  
  One year after the formation of the church I was contacted through family relations and asked to preach a trial sermon and candidate for the pastorate.  I was asked to take the position, but at the time did not feel the move was in order.  I still had one year left in Bible College and was planning on getting married the following year, I turned the invitation down.


   When the first inclination came to my mind to take the church I had some doubts about the way it started and wondered if it would be the right thing to get involved with.  A dear preacher friend of mine gave me this advice.  He said, "Everybody wants the good churches.  The ones that have all there doctrines squared away and their convictions nailed down tight."  Then he said, "No one wants to take the church that is going to take a lot of hard work and patience."
  This advice sparked my heart and began to burn a flame for the work in Florida.
 


   In January, 1992 I married Marsha Renee' Perry.  She was the daughter Floyd Perry, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Granite Falls, NC.  This was a local church in the same area I lived in.  Three months after the wedding Marsha and I took off for a two month visit to Buffalo, Wyoming  We were to help in a small mission church started by Marsha's uncle, Danny Perry, in the town.  
  It was during this time that God begin to deal with my heart about the small church in Florida.
  One particular day when I had the church in Florida on my mind I called my Aunt that was a member there.  I asked her how things were going and she said things were fine.  They had a new pastor and it looked like a good situation.  I didn't know what to expect when I called, but in my heart I was wanting to hear that the church still needed a pastor.  I would had offered to come this time.  
  Knowing the church in Florida was not available I continued helping in the work in Buffalo, Wyoming for the duration of our stay before deciding it was time to go back home to North Carolina. 

  I arrived back in North Carolina in time to finish the last year at West Lenoir Baptist Bible College where I graduated with an Associate Degree in Christian Education in the spring of 1993.  
  Prior to  graduation I was contacted by the pulpit committee of New Hope Baptist Church in Moore Haven, Florida once again.  There had been a turn of events that led to the resignation of their pastor.  I was asked to come back for a couple days to discuss taking the church.  There had been few days that went by, since my conversation to Florida from Wyoming that I had not thought about the church.  
  When I went back this time I accepted the invitation as pastor, and in April, 1993 stood behind the pulpit at New Hope Baptist Church in Moore Haven, Florida as their pastor.
   
   During the four and a half years of the ministry at New Hope Baptist Church we were blessed with the salvation of precious souls.  
Nina Wright was the first lady to get saved while I was there.  She turned out to be a true blessing.  Then a young couple from town came to know the Lord, and they where soon followed by a single mother and her children accepting Christ.  Her oldest son being a student in college in Indiana, went back with a new outlook on life.  He joined the Christian group in his school and soon became involved in Foreign Missions.  I will never forget the day that he came to the alter and said, "I want to be saved."  I say, "It was worth every bit of time, money, effort, and heartache to see these souls get saved.

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  Gary Dotson was basically a town drunk.  He didn't sleep in the gutter of behind a store because he had a truck to sleep in.  He would come by the house crying because he couldn't stop drinking.  I would pray for him and tell him he needed to get saved.
  One Wednesday night during the preaching time of the meeting he came through the church doors and headed straight for the alter.  I stopped preaching and asked everyone to pray.  I got down with Gary and we prayed for the Lord to save him.  He was under great conviction and the Lord graciously birthed him into the family of God.  Gary became a new creation in Christ.  
  Gary allowed the Lord to work in his life for several months.  He was greatly influenced by his mother, who was a heavy drinker, and soon he was having a beer after work every now and than.  Of course he came to me with a sorrowful heart for his actions and we went to God together to help Gary get back on the straight and narrow.
   The first time Gary came to my house confessing that he had drank the day before, I doubted his salvation.  I thought to my self, how can any one drink and be saved.  At that very instance the Holy Spirit brought up several sins in my life that I had been involved in during my salvation that caused much sorrowing toward repentance to the Lord.  Was Gary's sin worse than my sin?  No.  He recognized his sin, he wanted to confess his sin, and God was willing to forgive him his sin.  Unfortunately, before I left New Hope Gary had got completely out of church.  

  I went back to visit the people two years later and fellowship with the former church that I pastored.  We arrived early that week and were able to drop by a couple places of interest and reminisce on our past life in that area.  Marsha and I were going through the check out line at the local grocery store when guess who we saw?  It was Gary Dotson.  He saw me, smiled, and walked right over.  I said, "Gary, how you doing?"  Before saying a word, he reached down and took the tape out of his walkman that was secured to his belt.  He lifted it up for me to read the label.  Glory be to God, it was a tape of Me and Marsha singing from three or four years ago.  He than informed me that he had gotten off the bottle and was now serving the Lord.  Hallelujah!!
  Gary had no idea he would run into me that day.  As far as he knew I was eight hundred miles away in North Carolina.  The Lord, however, knew what an encouragement it would be for me and Marsha to see fruit of our labor still existing.  Praise God.

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Marsha 

 

  Hello, my name is Marsha Smith. I am the wife of Missionary Ronnie Smith, and mother to Alyssa, Anna, Amber, and Austin Smith.  We are currently serving in Limavady, Northern Ireland where we have been for 8 years.

   I was saved at the young age of 6 years old.
 
 My dad, Floyd Perry, answered his call to preach at the age of 18 years old, while he and my mother were engaged to be married. He took his first pastorate when I was 6 months old, so there is never a time that I can remember not being in church every time the doors were open.

  My parents are very dedicated to serving the Lord and in wanting the best for their children.  They worked hard to give us a Christian education by sending us to a Christian school all our school life.

  When I was in the first grade, every morning my teacher would teach us things out of the Bible, then she would always go over the plan of salvation making sure that we all knew that there was only one way to heaven, through Jesus. 

  After our Bible lesson, she would always have all those that knew they were saved to raise their hand, and then she would ask those that did not raise their hand if any of them would like to talk to her about being saved.

  Even at that young of an age, peer pressure is prevalent and because I wanted to be like everyone else, I would raise my hand every day saying that I was already saved, and knowing that I wasn't but I was just doing it to be like everyone else. 

  It wasn't too far into that year of school, that when I would raise my hand to say that I was saved that the Lord would prick my heart, and I knew that I was lying not only to my teacher but to myself.  The conviction, which I believe a very necessary part of coming to the Lord, was there every time from then on, and when I would raise my hand my heart was always telling me "you're lying, you're lying".  I already knew I was a sinner, for I had heard that from the time I was a baby, but that is when I started realizing how much of a sinner I really was.

  God in His mercy, allowed me to see myself as a sinner at the young age of 6 , and one day I decided to be honest with myself, my teacher and God.  I raised my hand that day and told the teacher that I needed to be saved!

  The Lord saved me that day. What a glorious day!

  I could not wait to get home that day and tell my daddy and momma that I had got saved!

  I think that is good evidence that something happened in my heart. I have always had a great desire to serve that Lord from that day. 

  I praise the Lord for giving me a wonderful husband who wants to serve Him to his best ability. I pray that together we can make an impact on those we come in contact with and they will see what a change Jesus can make in oneís life.