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Jenni & Lee Smith: "Specially Blessed"

I knew from the second I stopped in front of the house I was going

to love interviewing this family.

The house had its own personality and seemed to scream, “Welcome!”

I walked up the brick sidewalk admiring the front porch and

the white swing with bright pillows.

The grapevine wreath on the chocolate front door had a big burlap bow

on it, and before I could even ring the bell, the door opened and

five-year-old Moses Henry Kidane (Kee-don-a) Smith flashed a big smile

and called me “Mrs. Marilyn” as though he had been waiting for me all day.

I was smitten.

Moses was born in Ethiopia. He also has a disability known as

cortical visual impairment. His eyes are healthy, but he sees poorly

due to a neurological malfunction between the visual center of

the brain and the eyes.

Although he is about as bright a child as you will ever meet,

his eyes put him in a “special needs” category.

It was sometime in late 2009 that Jenni and Lee Smith’s faith journey

made a dramatic turn—a radical turn.

It began with what they call “a stirring,” a sense of restless discontent

with the status quo.

Lee’s job as a pharmaceutical salesman had provided well.

A four-year-old son, an almost one-year-old daughter, and a house

with a picket fence—what else was there?

They could have stood up most any Sunday at Pinelake Church

where they were members and testified to their abundant blessings.

As part of a couples’ small group ministry, they were studying

Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love at the time. The book’s subtitle

is "Overwhelmed by a Relentless God."

To say the message transformed their lives, their family’s lives,

and changed all of their plans and priorities barely begins to tell their story.

Marilyn Tinnin is a regular contributor to Mississippi Matters.

To read the rest of this story in Mississippi Christian Living's new Oct. 2017 issue, visit

or pick up the new issue at any of the hundreds of free distribution sites

where Mississippi Christian Living is found.

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