by Dawn Smiling

I was so young.  I remember like yesterday.  I knew him since I was a baby. At least it feels that way.  Truly it did.  My mommy took me to church and I sat in the front pew.  My twin sister and I were only eight or nine years old, and we were singing the praises of God.  We were devotional leaders. One day a visiting Pastor came and asked me to come to the front.  I was around 10 years old, but I remember like yesterday.  He said I would see my friends saved, and I would see my family saved.  I could not understand what he was talking about.  But he put his hand on my head and prayed for me. 

I grew from nine years old as a devotional leader, to a member of the Mount Calvary Choir in New York City.  I was 16, in my robe and so excited.  I was singing a song and all of a sudden a feeling came over me.  The feeling went right through me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.  I began to shout in that small Pentecostal church.  Have you ever been in an African American church when the Holy Spirit comes in?  We tend to get a little physical!  I began to lift my hands and shout like David.  I danced all over the choir stand until I could not dance anymore.  I was in love.  For the first time in my life, I felt God touch me, and life has never been the same.

While I was elated in my new experience, Satan was not.  I was the first member of my household to be saved.  Mommy and daddy were not saved.  My sisters were not saved. There was now a light in the house, and I had to learn how to walk without the benefit of living in a Christian household.  It was difficult.  It was rewarding and lonely at the same time.  At church I felt the peace of God, and I excelled, but at home there was confusion that I really could not explain. My dad had a drinking problem, and in high school there were peer pressures that I could not handle.  God really had a time with me. 

I found myself caving into the pressures, and I wandered away from God.  How could I leave my first love?  Real love is not always understood.  When the test came, it was hard to stand.  Pastor Craig spoke about our DNA this past January.  I simply did not know who I was.  I didn’t have the strength to go on.  My friends were dating.  My sisters were partying.  I tried to serve God and keep up with society.  I remember coming home from a party and I had a couple of drinks.  My stomach was so sick.  I came home and crawled into my mother’s bed.  She looked at me at said, “Dawn, you will never fit in the world. That life is not for you.”  I never forgot her words, but I still had a few more tests.  I became pregnant at 20.  My mother was so disappointed in me, but I still felt her love.  When I had my beautiful daughter, something clicked in me.  I realized I had a gift and God saw something in me.  I went back to God.  I went back to my first love, and entered the ministry. 

I preached my first sermon in my twenties.  We might change our direction, but God never changes His plan.  He said, “I am God, and I change not.”  One day I preached a sermon, and my twin sister came to the altar and gave her heart to the Lord.  Another Sunday I preached a message, and my mother gave her heart to the Lord. My dad eventually stopped drinking and came to know that God loved him.   I began to see God always had a purpose for my life.  It all started with a light in the house.

God has strengthened me over the years.  It was love at first site for God. A lesson I needed to learn.   I have entered a place where no matter what battle I face, God loved me first.  He created me to be a part of this beautiful place called life.  Not a life of perfection, a life lived in holiness walking with Him.

The recent television series “The Bible” has been a beautiful reminder brought back to life.  Sometimes we need a reminder of the price Jesus paid for our salvation experiences.  As Jesus carried the cross down the Via Dolorosa, I realize this walk is a journey, and in Christ, we are never alone.


Dawn Smiling enjoys volunteering at Grace Family Church as a prayer counselor, part of the soul care ministry, and as a table leader for Beautiful Monday Nights.


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  1. Lovely testimony by a lovely lady. May your words encourage others far and wide. Love you, sweet friend!

  2. What a great way to share your awesome story of obedience… thank you.

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