A Story of Loss and Gain… Ronnie Smith

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Ronnie Smith.
These 2 words have been ringing in my ears for the last 24 hours. My birthday was yesterday and I was given the honor of sharing the date with Ronnie’s death. My dear friend has become my dearest hero. Ronnie was murdered in the line of duty. Not the military, but in the eternal duty of spiritual warfare, defending our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ yesterday in Libya.

The story of Ronnie, the one only I know, is a story I would like to share. The fact that Ronnie’s friendship revolved around “fitness” is hard to ignore. God used fitness as a tool for Ronnie, our friendship, and ultimately my spirituality.

My walk with God has not always been the same. You can call it maturity and growth; I call it being lost and being found. Fresh out of college as a personal trainer, Ronnie was one of my 1st clients. In the midst of our program together he encouraged me to check out The Austin Stone Community Church as well as encouraged me to lead my girlfriend with true love. He encouraged me to spend my money like it was not mine. He encouraged me to live as if I was living for someone else. It all offended me, but it also haunted me.

God’s endless pursuit of love, grace, mercy, and more saved me once again.

A couple of years later, Ronnie and I became great friends. Ronnie shared with me that his wife and him were going to plant a church in another country far away. My girlfriend and I asked him to “marry” us before he left. He was honored. Shortly after that discussion, his wife and him became pregnant and their due date was my wedding date.

Ronnie took his family across the world to do great things for God. Before he left, he was the catalyst in helping me build the class I now teach at The Austin Stone called, “Physical Fitness for the Glory of God”.

I believed in Ronnie so much that my family supported him tangibly, emotionally, and spiritually as he launched and lived his mission. We even encouraged a few others to do the same. He was well equipped, spiritually wise and courageous, and he found true Joy in his mission. He was perfect for what God had planned, he was given this life because he is strong enough to live and die for it.

For over 2 years of being in his mission, Ronnie and I kept in touch. I actually continued to send him workouts. We would workout together over e-mail sometimes. I believed that I was meant to be his personal trainer so I could help him take care of his body so he could be available for God in the most efficient way, so he could foster gratitude with the body God gave him, and so he could set the example of being physically healthy for his family. It was an honor to be his friend and his coach.

Yesterday I was told that Ronnie was shot and killed while he was “exercising” or “jogging”. I can’t help but wonder if he was doing one of our workouts or just doing his own thing? I try to imagine myself being there and saving his life. I try to imagine if I was in his thoughts before he died. All I know is that his death is an honor. He died the best way a human being can die… he died for Jesus Christ. His wife doesn’t have a husband and his son doesn’t have a father… this is sad, but this is temporary and his family has a hero to remember for all their life. I want to be that kind of Dad and that kind of Husband. I look up to him more than words can describe.

Don’t get confused. What’s important to God is the way in which you do your “work”. The way and the motivation in which you exercise is what really has eternal impact. This is fitness. This is a story of loss and gain.

4 Comments

  1. That is inspirational, thank you for sharing it. I met Romnie through you and his story makes my heart yearn to live for Jesus. Not just to search for knowledge about Jesus, but to truly live for him; like Ronnie did. His legacy reaches far beyond our wildest imagination. Thanks Ronnie!

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  2. Beautiful testimony of Jesus’ work in real time. Praying for his family.
    Thanks for sharing! God is great!

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