His Name Was Ronnie
Although I never met Ronnie, although he was not famous, although we lived thousands of miles apart, he had a significant impact on my life and my faith, and I felt compelled to write a few words about him. Back in 2010 I saw a video of a sermon preached by a young man from an Acts 29 church in Texas. It was not your typical sermon, but was rather a series of 47 portions of scripture put together, memorized and recited before the church by a man named Ronnie Smith. Something about watching this 28 minute video moved me deeply. I saw in what Ronnie had done, something genuinely beautiful. And when you experience something you believe to be genuinely beautiful, you cannot help but to share it with others.
And so, I committed myself to memorizing this work, which Ronnie called “The History of Redemption”. I must have watched this video 50 or 60 times. And I must have talked about it so much, that pastor Rob eventually asked me to write a weekly blog post on each of these 47 sections of scripture for our church. And so, over the course of 2011, that is what I did. I invested countless hours in reading, listening to, memorizing and writing, all catalyzed by what Ronnie had done. He was a young man, about my age, and I knew nothing else about him, except that he was a faithful servant of Christ who was a part of a church in Texas.
Last week, Ronnie was murdered in Benghazi, Libya. He was living there with his wife and young son, and was working as a chemistry teacher at the international school, and he was shot dead while jogging. I believe that God called Ronnie and his wife to move to Benghazi, one of the most violent and broken cities on this planet, because He (God) loves those people. And Ronnie and his wife went because they had been filled with a hope that extends into eternity and they desired to share this hope with those who have no hope. Although I never met Ronnie, and I still know very little about him, I am quite sure that he understood they very real possibility of facing death in a place such as this. And still he went, to love and to serve the people of Libya and to love and serve his God and Savior. Ronnie paid the ultimate price for his obedience to Christ, and I am confident that in the moments following his death, he heard the voice of God Himself gently whispering in his ear, “well done, good and faithful servant”.
Although today we are saddened and grieve the loss of Ronnie, his life was not wasted. And today, be sure of this, that Ronnie is not sad.
I praise God for Ronnie’s life. His was a life lived with absolute direction and purpose for the glory of God. And as we have brothers and sisters in our church preparing to move to the Middle East, motivated by the same love that motivated Ronnie, this is a painful reminder to me, to not only encourage them and support them and pray for their fruitfulness, but also to pray for their safety, to pray daily, to pray without ceasing. It is also a reminder to me that ultimately our hope is not in the length of our days or what we accomplish, but in a God who can and will use our lives to bring glory to Himself. For He can use all things for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose. Ronnie’s life was a testimony to his love for God, and now our prayer is that God would use his death as a catalyst for the forwarding of the Gospel and the hope to which we cling. This is a worthy cause. There is no greater cause.
Below is the video of Ronnie preaching “The History of Redemption”:
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” - Psalm 116:15