Jerry Smith, who served on our faculty for 43 years, received his eternal reward late last month. He wore many hats during his tenure, but will be remembered by most students who passed through our halls as their Bible teacher.
I had Mr. Smith for Bible during my junior year and learned much about God’s Word during that year, but it was my senior year that I learned the most from Mr. Smith. Heading into my senior year, I only needed a couple of credits to graduate. My father was the principal and decided that I would take an independent Bible study course with Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith decided I would study the book of Job during that semester. I learned so much during that semester as Mr. Smith guided me through one of the most fascinating books in God’s Word. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times in the last 20 years that I have drawn from the book of Job for guidance, encouragement, and life lessons. I have drawn from it as a parent, teacher, coach, pastor, husband, friend, father, and student.
As a faculty member, I also learned many biblical principles from Mr. Smith. He was an encouragement to me as I began my ministry at Oneida. In addition to encouraging me, he also corrected me when necessary. One morning I had a rather rambunctious history class in the library doing research. Mr. Smith happened to be there as well. Some of the boys in my class were goofing around, and I found what the boys were doing to be amusing and was enjoying their deviant behavior. Mr. Smith looked at me and said, “Looks to me like the students aren’t the only ones who need to be punished.”
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times as a young pastor I called Mr. Smith and asked for guidance when preparing a sermon. Oftentimes I would have a sermon topic in mind but wasn’t sure where scripture related to that topic could be found. The internet was a newer thing at that time, and I couldn’t google a topic or verse and find it as easily as you can today. I would call Mr. Smith and he would rattle off multiple scriptures where I could find reference to such topics and he was always 100 percent correct.
At one point I said something to Mr. Smith about his amazing knowledge of the Bible. He responded,” I know very little of God’s Word. I have only scratched the surface.” He knew more of God’s Word than anyone else I knew, but he humbly and brilliantly admitted that God’s Word is so much bigger than any of us.
Jerry Smith will be missed on this earth and on our campus.