The Leading Edge hosted “Confessions: Part One” to allow Lipscomb students and staff the opportunity to anonymously share their spiritual journeys.
The Leading Edge is a group of students who strive to seek out areas on campus that need improvement and to help make those improvements.
“We know that sharing our stories can sometimes be difficult,” said Russell Vannozzi, Leading Edge student member. “While some people might have stories that are full of joy and happiness, other people have stories that aren’t full of that. They might be frightened to reveal details about their path.
“Strive to create an environment where people can be vulnerable with each other and people can share their stories without fear or shame.”
The anonymous speaker told his spiritual journey and, after a series of questions, revealed himself to the audience of students.
Sam Smith, dean of student life, opened up about his struggles and how God has led him to where he is now.
“I remember loving hearing my dad preach and wanting to be just like my dad,” Smith said. “I was your typical preacher’s kid. I was a Bible-thumping, Jesus-loving, God-enthusiastic preacher’s kid.”
Though Smith seemed to be set on a perfect path, he was introduced to pornography at a young age, and it began to shape his life into something far from God.
“Satan found a way to get me off track,” Smith said. “Satan found a way to help me exit out of the age of innocence. Then, I was introduced into this age of rebellion.”
Smith recalled how his school called his parents several times thinking he was on drugs, and eventually, after Smith denied it multiple times, his parents decided to get him drug tested. Though he had never done drugs, the lack of faith from his parents caused Smith to turn to drugs that same day after he passed the drug test.
“I was living life and having a really good time, but I was out of control,” Smith said. “My purity was out the door, my morality was out the door, my substance abuse was out the door, and I was in real bad shape. I was getting ready for an age of awakening.”
Smith had started playing multiple sports at a university in Nebraska, however, due to his lifestyle, he was not welcomed back after his second year. It was soon after his expulsion that Smith began to contemplate his damaging lifestyle.
“I remember being in my room, on what I call ‘The Night,’ and honestly I was so lit from all the substances in my body that there was no way I could possibly sleep,” he said. “I began to reflect on my life, and for some reason, the state of my mind was making me think long and hard about my life.”
This night of realization is what drove Smith to his age of spirituality and a return to his early faith.
“I was having a lot of fun, but what I realized was I wasn’t happy,” Smith said. “I realized that the last time I was happy was when I had a relationship with Jesus.”
After moving back to Texas and getting involved in the same damaging choices, he decided to visit his parents who had moved to Florida. While visiting, a wife of one of the church elders offered Smith a job as a janitor at the connected K-9 grade school.
“For some reason — that I can’t explain without divine interaction — I said ‘yes’,” he said. “I still can’t explain it to this day, except for thinking that it had to do with God. I said ‘yes’ to being a janitor at a school.”
After taking the humbling position, Smith not only made an effort to do the best job he could, but he also started to enjoy building relationships with the kids.
The school noticed the relationships he was building and offered him a job as a physical education teacher. Throughout this time, Smith grew in his relationship with Christ and was eventually offered a job as a Bible teacher and later a youth minister.
After growing from janitor to youth minister, Smith decided to go back to school to get a degree in Bible and become a preacher. He ended up at Lipscomb where he met his wife, graduated from college and became campus minister and chapel coordinator.
Though Smith still deals with struggles in his life, one being a serious blood cancer, he answers each new challenge with “God is good.”
“So now I am in the age of now,” Smith said. “Now I trust God. Now I know God. Now I live in his mercy as a broken person. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”