Thursday, December 19, 2013

Austin Church Honors Pastor Martyred in Benghazi

From the Southern Baptist Texan:
AUSTIN—Ronnie Smith and his family moved to Benghazi, Libya, 18 months ago so he could teach chemistry at the International School Benghazi, sensing God's call to be a light in a war-weary land. But on Dec. 5 while jogging, Smith was shot multiple times by perpetrators yet to be captured or claim responsibility for the attack. 
Friends, students and fellow teachers in Libya and the U.S. were stunned by the sudden loss. Some despaired at the apparent meaninglessness of the murder while others voiced hope in God's providence. 
Ahmed @Criminimed posted on Twitter following the shooting: "He left his wife, his son and his country to come to Libya and help our kids get better education and we rewarded him with [sic] bullet." 
The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin in a prepared statement, however, noted: "Although we grieve because we have lost a friend, a husband, and a father, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has a greater purpose than we can imagine right now." Smith was an Austin Stone member as is his wife Anita. 
The church held a private memorial service for Smith on Monday (Dec. 9). Smith served as an associate pastor at Austin Stone for four years prior to the family's move to Libya. But his desire to serve others drew the 33-year-old to share the gospel with an unpredictable yet lovable people.
So why would a young father and husband move his family to such a place? Barrett sent The TEXAN a link to Smith's video response. He had obviously given the question plenty of consideration before leaving. 
"If there is any single person in the entire universe that you can take a chance on, it's God," Smith said. 
Yielding to God's call to go to unfamiliar and potentially dangerous places goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to follow Christ, several Austin pastors told the TEXAN. Though they did not know him, they said his faith was evident in his obedience and his death a cause for reflection. 
"God may be calling us to go some places—not places we'd pick to live," said Rod Minor, pastor of Anderson Mills Baptist Church in Austin. 
Minor was preparing a sermon on circumstances of Jesus' upbringing as he considered the Smith family's call to Libya. Nazareth was not a pretty place to live, Minor said, noting that Jesus was derided for being from a "less than desirable" town.
Christians may be at odds with the cultural milieu of an uber-liberal city whose motto is "Keep Austin Weird," Rush said, but churches like Austin Stone are proactively engaging the community, seeking to bless others as a means to an end—sharing the uncompromising Gospel of Christ.

Read the whole thing here.

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