My name is Shawn Smiley, and I am studying the Associate Chaplain Ministry Ordination program at the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about online Bible classes, Click Here). Married to Alma Smiley for 25 years., we have the blessing of our daughter named Nicole. We live in a western suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
My Early Years
Born in the western suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the town of Monaca, I was an only child. I had great parents who raised me in the Presbyterian church. My parents were not super religious, but church attendance was required. Therefore, I knew the Lord from a young age.
Academics and athletics were a huge part of my life. My dad always encouraged and inspired me to do my best to receive a scholarship to college. He did not want me to go into the mills like him. Through God’s will and hard work, I received a football scholarship to Geneva College. I graduated from Geneva College, a Reformed Presbyterian college located in Beaver Falls, PA, in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. I enjoyed my time there. However, the stringent rules and my rebellious nature did clash at times.
My time growing up was fantastic. It was rich in friendships and family. As I grew older, church and religion became secondary to my secular life. I had a rebellious and wild side. This side dictated how I lived my life for the next three decades. Through it all, the Lord was always with me, even when I didn’t remember Him. I was on my throne.
My Crazy Life of Sin
As the world became my reality, my life became quite complicated. In a quick summary of my crazy life, I became a professional business, eventually operating a small trucking business. I was a loving husband to a beautiful wife, father to a beautiful daughter, good neighbor, friend, and son. Where’s the crazy? For 18 years, I was a member and local leader in a national outlaw motorcycle gang and convicted criminal. I was in everything that this life entailed. The life of sin is like quicksand that entices you as it envelopes you. Through it all, the Lord was always with me, even when I didn’t remember Him.
Changes and Challenges
After the death of my father and mother in 2007 and 2010, respectively, I dove further into my crazy life for six more years. In 2016, God pulled me out of the gang life. Still not seeing His Hand in saving me, I knew that I needed to change. So, I changed my life around, but I was still on my throne. I focused more on my business and family. The Lord started to come back into our lives in small ways and blessings.
In the fall of 2019, I was working out of town and missing my wife. So, I watched some sermons on TV in the hotel room. I began to pray a little more. I promised God that we would start going to church. In November of 2019, I believe God had enough of my stalling. I began experiencing some chest, shoulder, and neck discomfort. In December, I went to the doctor, and he forced me to the emergency room. The left artery from my heart was 100% blocked. I needed two stents to open it up. Here is the miracle: the Lord created a small tributary around the blockage to save me. It kept me alive, praise God. Through it all, the Lord was always with me, even when I didn’t remember Him.
More Challenges and Total Surrender to God
God wasn’t done with me yet. In 2020, we had our best year in trucking, even with the Covid crisis. We could not find a church because of the shutdown. So, we worshiped at home on the TV every day, and I read the Bible and praying constantly. I was still trying to solve my problems, especially in the trucking business. I STILL DIDN’T GET IT!
At the end of 2020, we had a significant breakdown, lacked part availability, and no paychecks for three months caused a major financial crisis. Down to our last $100 and about to lose everything, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I vowed to follow Him for the rest of my days. My business and my entire life have turned completely around. He saved me, even though I didn’t deserve it. I am His!
Finding CLI: Associate Chaplain Ministry Ordination
Looking back, the biggest obstacle in my Christian maturity was me. That is a kick to the face. My walk with the Lord was sporadic at best in my adult life. I was the prodigal son. Then, finally, with God’s Grace and Forgiveness, I gave my life to the Lord. The Lord welcomed me home!
God then gave me the strength and desire to learn as much about His Word as I could. The Christian Leaders Institute gives me an excellent opportunity. Not only can I go back to school, but I can study the Bible and become a Christian Leader. The world needs Christian Leaders greatly at this time. We never had a lot of money, so the free classes and inexpensive degrees are fantastic. For me, time and flexibility are essential aspects of CLI. I am so blessed God guided me to the CLI website.
My goal is to complete the Associate Chaplain Ministry Ordination and enter the Christian Leaders College to work towards a Degree in Divinity with Chaplaincy emphasis. After that, I will leave the direction of my ministry to God’s Will. But, if I stay close to Him, I won’t go wrong. May God bless you all!