By: Lieutenant Derrick Smith
My walk with Christ began in the small rural town of Warsaw, North Carolina, where my weekly routine consisted of playing sports and going to church. My parents instilled in me at an early age lifelong morals that I would teach my own children one day: God first, others next, then yourself.
I remember seeing those values lived out in my parents and grandparents, who were strong Christians and constantly worked hard and prayed even harder. Because of their relationship with Christ, I was encouraged to grow in many different ways as a child, such as singing in the Church choir, becoming a public speaker and playing sports.
Being a Christian athlete became a priority for me, especially in high school, and enabled me to reach some of my highest goals such as going on to play sports in college. However, as the college years approached, I began to lose sense of who I was as a Christian and began making bad decisions.
A pivotal point in my life occurred when I left college and moved back home with my parents, losing my basketball and baseball scholarship; however, I remained determined and worked hard to obtain a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. As I tried to figure out the next steps for my life, I decided to move to Wilmington, North Carolina, to enroll in police academy to become a police officer. I began to feel God’s still, small voice speaking in my life, just as I did when I was younger. God revealed to me that he had a plan for my life, but not as a police officer, so I withdrew from the academy. Little did I know at that time, God’s plans did involve me being an officer, just not the type I thought. Again I began to lean on God for understanding, and I attended different churches, searching for a home church. In 2008, I met my God-fearing wife and The Salvation Army.
In August 2012, my wife and I attended the National Seminar of Evangelism in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with an open heart and open mind. That was when God answered the very prayer I had been praying for years: What is my purpose in life? He reminded me of Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
It was during that time my calling was confirmed and by the grace of God, he not only called me but my wife as well to full time ministry in The Salvation Army. God began to reveal his perfect plans for my life, which were very different than what I had previously thought; I had settled for taking over the family business. I learned that if we will only take time to be still and seek him and his kingdom with all our heart, he will make our paths straight. All that I had done in my life up to that point would prepare me for the life ahead as a father of four, a Salvation Army officer, and most importantly, a man of God.
Although I have learned to take each day at a time, I find comfort in Jon 16:33 which reminds me: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.