Bishop Roy E Smith
P.O. Box 422578
Kissimmee FL 34742
Roy Smith: An Unusual Family Reunion
By Sheryl Fountain and Dory Nissen
The 700 Club
" I felt like I was robbed. Everybody has a father. Why don’t I have a father?"
Roy Smith grew up never knowing his father, an open wound even after he became a minister.
"There were times when I was very uncomfortable especially as a minister. When it’s Father’s Day and you are encouraging congregations to spend time with their father, there is something missing."
But a business deal gone wrong was about to connect Smith with his long lost father.
The church board decided to purchase their own building. They didn’t qualify for a loan until Smith was introduced to a broker who said he could get them a loan.
"He said whatever building we found that he would definitely be able to help us secure a loan."
Smith and his congregation were ecstatic as they purchased a church building, but one day, he received a phone call from the FBI. He was charged with committing fraud. His attorney took a close look at the loan paperwork and discovered the broker had inflated the church’s assets to get the loan. Smith had not caught the lie.
"I was left holding the bag; my signature was on loan applications."
Smith was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
"I said to myself, 'God, You can’t be letting this happen.' When I arrived at the prison, I sat down with one of the counselors who were going over orientation with me.
He begins to tell me my room assignment. He mentioned the name of a person in the room. I almost did a double take when he said Roy Milton, because that’s my dad. I thought, no, maybe it’s someone else with the same name."
When he was finally escorted to his cell, Smith realized that his cell mate was indeed his father who was in prison for dealing drugs. It had been over 20 years since they’d seen each other.
"On the inside I felt like a six-year-old boy. I just wanted to touch him and see if he was real.
I was scared. I didn’t know if I hated him, if I loved him. I didn’t know if he hated me. I had repressed all of that stuff for so long. I wasn’t sure this was a good thing."
On day he noticed his father’s newspaper clippings. They were all of Smith.
" He knew stuff about me when I was in the newspaper for high school accomplishments, when I got married, even the case on why I was sent to prison. So he was aware of what was going on with me, and all these years I felt that he not only did not know, but he did not care."
"When I came across an article of him opening his first church, it was like a father’s pride," Roy Milton says. "Even though I was in jail, it made me walk around with my chest stuck out."
Over the next few months Smith and his father began to develop their relationship. Eight months into his prison sentence, the chaplain asked Smith to speak at a chapel service. Smith asked his father to come. His father refused. Milton says, "But something kept pulling me. Go, go. Come on. It grabs my hand, picks me up, and took me."
At the end of the service, the chaplain asked Smith to give an altar call.
"Normally when the chaplain would give an altar call, no one would come forward," Smith says. "Most of the inmates were very private people. So any type of public acknowledgment really wasn’t the norm. It was something you just didn’t do in front of the other inmates. So I’m doing the altar call and not expecting anyone to respond.
This Sunday was different. When I looked up and I seen somebody coming toward the front, it was my dad.
When I saw the tears streaming down his face, I knew it he was giving his life to the Lord."
"God made me come to terms with myself," Milton says. "He opened the gates and let me out and that’s the beginning of my freedom."
Smith recalls, "I hugged my dad and I begin to weep. I knew this was a God moment. For the first time I felt that we would have a relationship, that we were connected. That our connection was a lot deeper going forward. It was an awesome feeling."
A few weeks later, Smith was released from prison early for good behavior. His father was released in 2009, and their relationship is completely restored. Smith has written a book about their journey and what God has done in their lives.
" All things do work together for good," Smith says. "My love for God is stronger now; my commitment to the Lord is stronger. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way now. I thought I was living before, and I think I’ve only just begun to really live in that abundant life that is promised to believers."
Can God change your life?
God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life.
Discover how you can find peace with God.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.