By Quinn Lavespere, Message Intern Writer
COLFAX – There was a time when it looked like David Smith’s life would end early. Today, though, the Grant Parish School Board worker is living better than ever.
[img_assist|nid=7166|title=David Smith|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=72]Having triumphed in a life-or-death battle with esophageal cancer, Smith gratefully repays the Lord today through ministries that aim at giving encouragement to others and bringing salvation to the unsaved.
“My aim is to show kindness to others and let the love of Jesus shine through my behavior,” Smith said. “After what the Lord has done for me, I feel obligated to repay Him the best ways I can.”
Smith said he works in the technology department at the Grant Parish School Board and is the media specialist for the Grant Parish school system.
“My role in that is I support the teachers as they integrate technology into the classrooms,” Smith said.
Smith talked about the ministries he is involved in and God’s role in these ministries.
“Probably the most important ministry I do is my devotional ministry,” Smith said. “In 2007, I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and was given only a nine percent chance of survival by my doctors. Because of the type of cancer I had, they could not treat me in Alexandria, but only in Houston or St. Louis. I opted to go to Houston and had to make a lot of trips down there. While I was in Houston, I would keep in contact with everyone here at the office by e-mail. Every day, I would send out an update of what was going on in my life.
“Through that, the Lord started leading me to also include a devotion along with it,” the media specialist continued. “Sometimes, I would just put in a little bit of Scripture. I did that for six to eight months, and when I was well enough to come back to work, I didn’t really have the need to continue e-mailing people every day. Several people told me that they really enjoyed it, so I kept sending it out to those eight or 10 friends of mine, and then the Lord impressed upon me that I needed to share it with more than just those few friends.
“I talked to the superintendent and to my supervisor about it, and they said, ‘If the Lord’s leading you to do it, then you need to do it,’” Smith said. “I started sending it out to all of the Grant Parish school employees. So every morning, I send out a devotion to people. It’s just things God is speaking to me and directions He’s leading me in my life. Sometimes, it leads me just to be an encourager for those teachers and employees working in the school system, and sometimes, it leads me to give them guidance.
Smith said he tells people a lot of times that he sits down and doesn’t plan what he is going to write.
“I tell people I don’t write a devotion,” Smith said. “I’m just the typist, and God writes it. Most of the time, I don’t have a clue of what I’m going to write; God just puts it in my head as to what I need to write about.”
Smith said God used his sickness to reach other unsaved people.
“God gave me opportunities while I was in Houston to witness to people there that had no hope because they didn’t know Christ,” the media specialist said. “They would ask me how I could be so happy with only a nine percent chance of survival, and I would say, ‘Whether I live or die, it doesn’t matter. My God is in control, and like Paul said, it’s a win-win either way!’ So God let me minister to other unsaved people through that.”
Smith added his devotional ministry touches other people besides the employees of Grant Parish.
“I have two e-mail lists that I use,” Smith said. “I e-mail about 150 other people that have sent me an e-mail or requested that I send them a devotion. Then I have had people who have told me that I send them their e-mail and then they forward it on to other people. I don’t know how many people receive a devotion overall.”
Smith is also involved in a street ministry.
“Through our church, I was hooked up with David Cobb Ministries that does street ministry,” the media specialist said. “We do it in New Orleans; at Mardi Gras we go down and do street ministry. We go to Memphis in May to do street ministry, and we do street ministry in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve been doing this ministry for probably over 10 years, and the first time I ever led anybody to Christ was on a street corner in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.”
Smith told the story of how he led the New Orleans man to Christ.
“I didn’t know what to say,’ Smith said. “The guy walked up to me and asked me to tell him about Jesus, and I started talking to him. The next thing I knew, God just put words in my mouth and I led him to Christ. I keep in contact today with the guy, who’s from Seattle, Washington. He went back there after getting saved and led his entire family to Christ.
“The guy was working at the naval base in New Orleans and was just walking the streets during Mardi Gras and saw a group of us standing on the corner,” Smith added. “One of our guys was witnessing to someone, and I was standing beside him. The guy came over and listened from a distance, and then he asked me, ‘Can you tell me what he’s talking about?’ When I got through, I told my pastor, ‘I didn’t know I knew all that stuff!’ God was just putting it all in there.”
Smith briefly talked about his association with the Christian Motorcycle Association.
“We minister to the motorcycle crowd, but we’re not a riding club—we’re a ministry,” Smith said. “We go to secular rallies and different events, and we usually set up hospitality tents. We give away water and coffee and offer spiritual guidance. We also support three different ministries through CMA. One of the ministries furnishes motorcycles and other transportation for pastors in underdeveloped countries, another gives away and smuggles Bibles into countries where Bibles are not allowed, and another does the “JESUS” film which has been translated into over 1000 languages.”
Smith talked about some blessings God had given him during his battle with esophageal cancer.
“Esophageal cancer is almost a death sentence; if it gets through the esophageal wall, you’re done,” Smith said. “The doctors were able to catch mine before it got through the esophageal wall. I had to take chemo and radiation, though, and one of the chemos I took had not been approved for esophageal cancer. It was aggressive to the cancer and really worked, but it has to be used for five years before it is recognized as a treatment, and it had not been five years, so my insurance company would not pay for it. I needed nine doses of it, and it was $10,000 a dose.
“I prayed about it, because I couldn’t afford $10,000 a dose medicine,” the media specialist continued. “God opened the door, and the doctor came in one day and said, ‘Your insurance isn’t gonna pay for it, and you’ve gotta have it to survive. I’ve talked to some people, and they’ll pay for the medicine for you if you will participate in a clinical trial and allow us to follow you for the rest of your life.’ Every year when I go down, they draw an extra vial of blood and send it to this lab so they can see what long-term effects the chemo has. So they paid for that chemo drug.
“I had a lot of problems after my surgery with not being able to swallow,” Smith said. “Every other week for eight months, I had to go down to Houston and have my esophagus stretched. I probably made hundreds of trips to Houston in those first two years, and I don’t think there was one time I left the house that I didn’t have somebody else’s money in my pocket and somebody else’s gas in my tank. People would come out to the house and offer to pay for my hotel room and whatnot. Schools had fundraisers and raised money to help me pay medical expenses, and our church helped too. God really blessed me; every time I turned around, He was providing.”
Smith also talked about blessings God had given for his ministries.
“I think probably the ultimate blessing is the blessing you receive just by being in the center of God’s will and being a part of what He’s doing,” the media specialist said. “It’s just wonderful to lead people to Christ and harvest the Gospel for others. God has blessed me in so many other ways, though, by giving opportunities for me to minister to others and stuff like that.”
Smith talked about his future hopes for his ministries.
“I just want to do what God wants me to do,” Smith said. “As far as plans to expand these ministries, I don’t have any plans to expand them, but if that’s what God wants, then I’ll do it. It’s whatever He wants to do.”
Smith said doing his ministries can be challenging, but he ultimately enjoys them.
“There are times when I get frustrated and wonder if much of what I’m doing is making a difference,” Smith said. “However, if we look at our ministries as being in the center of God’s will, then they’re successful whether we think they are or not. I love visiting and sharing with people about Christ. I tell people that I’m not the Grant Parish media specialist who happens to be a Christian, but a Christian who happens to be the Grant Parish media specialist, because Christ is first in my life, and everything else comes after that.”