Pastor Jesse Smith
Born in Stuart, Florida in 1947 and moved around the country with my recently divorced and remarried Mom to Kansas, California and eventually finishing High School in Stuart. I joined the US Navy in 1966. At the conclusion of boot camp in San Diego, CA I went to Groton, CT for Submarine School. I was stationed on the SSBN 623 Nathan Hale for my four year enlistment. I was a ‘sonar tech’ STS3, Submarine qualified, and oblivious to God when I completed my enlistment.
I met the love of my life while our submarine was in CT and Jan and I were married in 1970. We recently (2010) celebrated our 40th anniversary! Jan and I have 3 adult children. All have made a profession of faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. I took up carpentry after my Navy days. Most of my family were carpenters or commercial fishermen. I worked as a carpenter until a back injury in 1989 which ended that occupation.
My Dad, Oliver Smith was a missionary in New Guinea with New Tribes missions when Jan and I were married and though he tried to witness to me and my new bride of a Saviour who loved me, I was uninterested. Through a series of circumstances orchestrated by God in response to my Faithful Dad’s prayers, Jan was saved in 1974 and I a few weeks after her. How I thank God for a faithful wife!
The years of separation after my parents divorce and indifference to my Dad compelled this ‘prodigal son’ to write him in New Guinea and beg his forgiveness which he joyfully and instantly gave. My ‘born again experience’ had given back what by bitterness and foolishness had taken away. The years of separation between us disappeared. And we continued a wonderful relationship until he went to be with our Saviour in 2001. Though I miss him dearly I know I shall see him again shortly.
Jan and I began going to Church. We had had no witness from anyone since my Dad. I got saved reading “Good News For Modern Man.” The day I got saved something told me “Now go get a Bible.” I got a KJB and began reading and studying from it. The Church we started attending used a KJV and we grew and learned some, but my deepest questions were always met with answers that seemed to me very insufficient. When the Pastor and visiting Preachers began to ‘use other versions’ I was amazed that there was such a variation in the text. At that point I had no ‘formal training’ in this matter, but I could read. I asked how the Pastor could hold up for all to see his KJV and say, “This does not contain the word of God, It is the word of God.” Then the following week he could make the same pronouncement using an NIV or some other version. Confusion seemed to be the course taken there. When I addressed the issue with the Senior Pastor his concluding remarks after months of discussion and investigation were, “If you think ANY Bible is completely correct you are worse than the liberals.” At the time I was both stunned and curious. Stunned that all six years I had listen to him preach, he made claims he didn’t believe at all. Secondly I couldn’t figure the ‘liberal’ comparison. When I asked him to state plainly what he really believed next Sunday during the preaching service he almost choked! That day ended our ‘fellowship’ when he asked me not to say anything to anyone about our conversation.” The hypocrisy of this is almost beyond belief.
This is the briefest of ‘testimonies’ concerning this matter and written simply so that others might better understand the aversion I have to pulpit fraud and dishonest claims to ‘build a big church.’ This encounter led to 3 years of study concerning bible versions and related issues. At its conclusion I was more confirmed than ever that “God had a perfect book” for the English speaking world, and it was the King James Version.
My family and I found ourselves sitting at home trying to discern God’s will for us. We had friends in different Churches which we visited. Most had the ‘beginnings’ of the situation we had just left. Even if they professed to believe the KJV, they would readily correct it with some Greek ‘nugget’ to alter the clear meaning of the verse or quote some scholar or version who didn’t believe any bible was correct. We decided to ‘wait on God’s leading. As we witnessed and studied people came to our home for study, council, etc. and the numbers grew. We sponsored a TV program (Drawing men To Christ) first locally then on a larger station. This time was an incredible ‘growing season’ for me. Not only in the Lord, and what Church was meant to accomplish, but about Christians and people in general, and God taught me much about myself. We saw numbers of folks saved, some of which are Pastoring Churches today and in missions. They ‘stuck to the Lord’. Others who liked the ‘homey less demanding situation’ we were in, left when we grew into a Church.
In 1986 I surrendered to God’s call to Preach and Pastor a Church. This came with much soul searching and prayer, and council from other Pastors and Evangelists. I had no ‘pattern’ for our Church but the scriptures, and concluded none other was necessary or beneficial.
In 1988 ‘Victory Bible Baptist Church” was formed. God almost immediately gave us a place to meet. The Ledyard Grange on Fairway Dr in Ledyard CT. Those were some of the most exciting, exhausting, and trying times of my life. I wouldn’t trade anything for them. Our ‘theme song’ was Little is Much When God is in it. Our Church name came from Victory in Jesus! We were the Baptist Church with the bible still in it! Victory Bible Baptist Church.
For nine years we met prayed, preached, praised God. We held Revivals, knocked on doors, preached on the streets, put floats in parades, anything to ‘advance the knowledge of Jesus Christ.’ People came and people went. Those serious stayed and helped, others used up time and taught me lessons about ‘what is man’. We saved some money and bought land across the street from where he had been for years. In 1996 we built our current Church building and moved in January of 1997. We have been blessed by God and helpful saints to pay off our building in Seven years. Today we ‘Owe no man anything but to love them.’
As pastor the ‘goal’ of my preaching is plain, directed to help folks grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Lead lost folks to a sincere saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and instill in them one clear and present thought, Psalms 18:30 "As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him."