From Riches to Rags to Redemption: The Salvation of Ann-Lesley Smith
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
Ann-Lesley Smith was living like a queen.
“During the day my life was just so fun,” she says. “John was into cars, and we had a stable full of every kind -- exotic Ferraris and everything.
“I spent $65,000 a month on clothes easily. Money was not an object. I had everything in the world.
In the ‘70s, Ann-Lesley graduated from college and started her own practice as a dental hygienist. But her fairy tale life began when she married into one of America’s wealthiest families.
She says, “The world just opened up to me. Almost like royalty…”
When she wasn’t shopping, Ann-Lesley filled her days jumping horses, doing charity work, and modeling for some of the world’s top clothing designers.
Perhaps that’s what kept her from seeing what was lurking just around the corner.
“At times it was wonderful. It’s the kind of marriage anybody would have loved to have had,” she says. “During the day he would shower gifts on me and praise.”
But by night, Ann-Lesley’s husband turned her house of happiness into a house of horrors.
“When John started drinking, he became a different person,” she recalls. “He would lock me out of the house. He physically abused me, mentally abused me, emotionally… which is actually worse than physical because you start to believe the lies.”
A bitter divorce followed and a pre-nuptial agreement left Ann-Lesley with no place to live. This once wealthy socialite went from riches to welfare.
“I was ashamed. It just was so different. What was I to do? I’d go shopping at midnight so no one would see me.”
After a while Ann-Lesley couldn’t cope with the drastic changes in her life.
“I really wanted to commit suicide cause my life was just so bad,” she says. “Everything was just too much. I was thinking that if I just drive my car real fast into someone else then I’d end it. Well, I was driving recklessly. I wanted it to happen, [but] it didn’t.”
Ann-Lesley worked odd jobs and continued modeling. During one show, she met the event coordinator who gave her more than she bargained for.
“She takes me into the coffee shop and says, ‘Honey, I can see right through you. You’re hurting. The only thing that’s going to help you is you need Jesus Christ.’
“So she gave me The Four Spiritual Laws, and I begrudgingly took it, went home that night, and got down on my knees. I was so hurt, so alone, and so rejected.
“And I prayed for God to help me and forgive me of my sins… Everything in the book I did.”
After that prayer, Jesus brought a new meaning and purpose into Ann-Lesley’s life.
“The Lord gave me thirst and a hunger for Him, and I actually replaced the things of the world with the Scriptures.
“As I began to walk with God, the things of the world just seemed pointless to me.”
Out on the streets of Marin County, California, Ann-Lesley is now known as Rev. Ann. That’s because she’s a volunteer police chaplain. She draws on her past pain to care for others living in darkness and even despair.
“When I go on my calls and I’m dealing with people who are in a lot of pain, I say, ‘I’ve been here. I’ve been here and you can get out.’ It gives them hope,” she says.
Ann-Lesley married country music legend, Chester Smith.
She now knows that the most important things in life have eternal values. “Things aren’t important to me anymore. What really matters is other people. When you let the Lord take control of your life, you can make it. Out of the ruins you can rise and let the oil of His anointing just be all over you.”
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