Call it a God thing, if you will.
It’s as good an explanation as you will find.
There was the Rev. Dr. Tim Smith, a born and bred Texan, pastoring East Mountain Baptist Church near Longview.
It was in Smith’s words, “a wonderful place ...a tremendous group of folks.”
“There was no logical reason to leave,” he said.
Still for a year or so he’d harbored an uneasy feeling he wasn’t supposed to be there any longer.
And then it happened. Around Labor Day, Smith received a call from First Baptist Church in Purcell.
A search committee here was impressed by his resume and wanted him to come to Purcell, preach a sermon and see if he and First Baptist were a good fit.
Turns out, he did and they were and the committee offered him the pulpit.
He put off until November giving them an answer. He started December 16.
And here’s where the God thing comes in.
You see, Smith doesn’t remember sending his resume to First Baptist Church in Purcell, Oklahoma.
Still his life has been filled with other God moments.
Smith was born in Mesquite and attended church from the age of 5 or 6.
By the time he entered high school, Smith was certain he would become a baseball player.
“I figured I would always be in baseball, but it didn’t work out that way,” he recalled.
His parents divorced when he was 12 and his mother later married a man who was a Baptist deacon. He moved the family from Mesquite to Dew. Smith enrolled at Fairfield High School.
“I went from a high school of 3,000 to a town of 3,000,” he said.
At Fairfield, he began dating a girl.
“If I wanted to see her on Sunday, I had to go to church,” he said.
Smith’s relationship with his stepfather was strained. When he was a high school senior, he visited with the church’s youth pastor and surrendered his life to Christ.
The day after he graduated from high school, Smith moved out, renting a room in the nearby town of Fairfield.
He enrolled in Navarro College at Corsicana.
“God made it real clear what he was calling me to do,” he said.
He continued his undergraduate education at a college in Mississippi. He then attended Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Kansas City, Mo.
Smith received his doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
In the summer of 1982, he met his future wife at a Glorieta church camp in New Mexico.
“She slid down a hill and fell on top of me,” he recalled.
He quickly fell for Sheree and they married in May 1983.
Soon to celebrate 38 years married, the Smiths have two sons – Kody, 31, and Kameron, 25 – and three granddaughters.
By mutual agreement, Sheree’s family became Smith’s family and he became their son.
They moved to Tennessee where Smith pastored a church. One day he read an announcement that a Baptist church in Aviano, Italy, was looking for a pastor.
He sent a letter and his resume and “six months later we were getting on a plane.”
The church, which was founded after World War II, was near Aviano Air Base.
“We lived on the economy and my kids went to Italian schools,” he said, adding that he learned to speak “street Italian.”
The family spent about four years at Aviano.
Smith describes himself as an “old school” minister, believing certain principles are the foundation of a good, strong church.
“Show me a church that believes in and supports missions, I’ll show you a church God blesses,” he said. “Show me a church with a strong men’s ministry, I’ll show you a church God blesses.”
The same goes for church with strong community involvement and programs for women and children.
If there’s anything Smith has learned in his 38 years as a minister, it is this:
“You have to earn the right to be heard. Be sure you follow God’s word. Do that and anything can happen.”
Even “God thing” offers from churches to which you don’t remember applying.”