Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A life laid down..Ronnie Smith

This was truly a precious and touching story of a man who recently died, leaving a legacy of love and a life poured out for the good of others and the glory of Christ, shining His light where God had him.  Grieving for his wife and son, and yet rejoicing in the legacy he left behind him.  May we all live our lives with an urgent desire to touch the lives of those around us with the light of Christ wherever we are and with whomever we come in contact with!
Ronnie Smith

WORLD article: Here's the link to the article- http://www.worldmag.com/2013/12/a_life_laid_down

Hours after assailants gunned down American teacher Ronnie Smith during his morning jog near the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday, grieving friends on opposite sides of the globe remembered Smith, 33, as a devoted teacher, family man, and Christian.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Smith’s murder, but Islamist militants had called for the kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Libya in October. Hospital officials said the teacher had been shot multiple times. His death came 15 months after an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Smith held a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and had been teaching chemistry at the International School Benghazi for 18 months. His wife, Anita, and their young son had returned to the United States several weeks ago for Christmas break. Smith stayed behind to help his students through midterm exams and had planned to join his family in a few days.

Leaders at the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, confirmed Smith was a longtime member. (The Austin church is part of the Acts 29 Network of congregations led by Matt Chandler, another Texas pastor.)

A statement on the Austin Stone website said Smith had served on the church’s staff before moving to Libya: “Ronnie and his family moved to Benghazi to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people. … Ronnie’s greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.”

A profile of Smith on the church website identified him as a deacon and a native of Michigan who had been married for 10 years. In the profile, Smith listed Minnesota pastor John Piper as his hero because God used Piper to introduce him to the writings of Jonathan Edwards and to teach him “the meaning and the joy of the supremacy of Christ in all things.”

On the same page, Smith said if he could spend an evening with anyone who lived in the last 1,000 years, he would choose Jonathan Edwards because Edwards understood “that God gave us minds for the soul purpose of glorifying Him. … As a man of supreme intellect and prestige, he was refreshingly humble and holy.”

Back in Benghazi, Smith’s students described him as a teacher who inspired and cared about them.

“He was the most amazing person, more like a best friend or family member,” Yomna Zentani, 18, told NBC News. “After everything that happened in Libya, we were losing hope and he was the only one who was supporting us, motivating us. … He dedicated so much of his time for all his students. He chose to come here and help us and risk his life.”

Other students memorialized Smith on Twitter. “He was the best teacher I ever had. Always ready to work, always in a good mood,” wrote one. Another student tweeted that Smith “baked me 2 batches of peanut butter cookies on my birthday and sang happy birthday in arabic.” A Libyan wrote, “Thank you, sir, for believing in our Libyan children when half of their own country had given up on them. #Smith.”

As Smith’s family and friends prepare for his funeral, Smith’s words on his church profile offer a reminder of his desire that “we strive for and treasure Christ above all things. I don’t want the church to be about people, programs, or numbers, but rather a body that reaches out to the hurting and that speaks the truth of the gospel uncompromisingly into people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, Smith’s students in Benghazi may remember him best as the man who once described himself on Twitter as “Libya’s best friend.”

John Piper shares writes at Desiring God website the following article:
Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media.

One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya.

Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Weep with Those Who Weep

How do I feel about sharing in the cause of his going to his death?

I came to tears this morning praying for Anita and Hosea. Weep with those who weep was not a command in that moment; it was a sorrow rolling over me. I remember being 33. That’s how old I was when God called me to the pastorate. I was starting my ministry at the age Ronnie’s ministry ended. And Jesus’s.

After sorrow and sympathy, my response was (and is) prayer. “Lord, give Anita great faith. Help her to weep — but not as those who have not hope. Make that little fellow proud of his daddy. May he grow up thrilled to be in the bloodline of such a man. May they live on the glories of Romans 8 — the groanings of this fallen world of waiting (Romans 8:23), and the rock-solid assurance that, though we are being killed all day long, nevertheless, in all these things we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:36–37).”

Something Worse Than Death

Then I am sobered. Ronnie is not the first person who has died doing what I have encouraged them to do. He won’t be the last. If I thought death were the worst thing that can happen to a person, I would be overwhelmed with regret.

But the whole point of Ronnie’s life is that there is something worse than death. So he was willing to risk his own life to rescue others from something far worse. And he could risk his own life because he knew his own risking and dying would work for him “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). And he knew God was able to meet every need of his wife and son (Philippians 4:19).

We are not playing games. When I preach that risk is right, I know what I am doing. When I say, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him — especially in suffering,” I know what suffering may mean. When I say, “Fear not, you can only be killed” (Matthew 10:28), I take seriously the words of Jesus: “Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:16, 18).

Flood the World with Replacements

Finally, I call thousands of you to take Ronnie’s place. They will not kill us fast enough. Let the replacements flood the world. We do not seek death. We seek the everlasting joy of the world — including our enemies. If they kill us while we love them, we are in good company. Jesus did not call us to ease or safety. He called us to love for the sake of his name. Everywhere. Among all peoples.

Anita and Hosea, I love you. I am sorry, so sorry, for your loss. I admire you and Ronnie profoundly. Hold fast to this: “God has not destined you (or Ronnie) for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10).

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