Ashley Smith’s story is amazing. A struggling widow and mother of a five-year-old endured a harrowing ordeal with a man who was the focus of perhaps the largest manhunt in Georgia history, Brian Nichols, who is accused of murdering of a judge and three others in his escape from custody and court appearance for the rape of his former girlfriend.
Smith knew this man was wanted for cold-blooded murder of a judge yet somehow her faith and life-experience and the Holy Spirit calmed her, allowed her to do two amazing things: treat her kidnapper like a human being who needs grace while still realizing he should be caught and held accountable for his alleged crimes. She stayed with him seven hours, was allowed to leave to see her five-year-old daughter, then she called 911.
During those seven hours she read to Nichols. She picked up where she’d left off in her own reading: Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, chapter 33: “How Real Servants Act.” This after Nichols had held her at gunpoint, entered her apartment in the north part of Atlanta, tied her up then later released her. Before she left to see her daughter she made him pancakes. Nichols was surprised she would act the way she did.
What did motivate her to act this way? Self-preservation? The desire to see her daughter again? Or was it because she was living a kingdom life of a servant in the most extreme situation imaginable? When people are put under pressure, their true colors come out. Ashley Smith showed her faith last Friday.
Her testimony is one we should hear more about. For more, read an article by Charles Colson in today’s Wall Street Journal, “The lesson of Brian Nichols’s last hostage.”