“This is not my story. This is HIStory; I’m just humbled He’s allowing me to tag along,” Dr. Neville’ G.G. Smith shares.
Tagging along has led Neville’ to become a songwriter, author, chaplain, deputy sheriff, church planter, and pastor. However, becoming a minister was not originally part of Neville’s story. When he was in elementary school, he encountered the Lord at a church in Sioux City, Iowa. When he opened his eyes, two bishops and a deacon were standing over him, and one of the bishops declared, “This boy is going to be a preacher.”
Growing up in some difficulty, he did not see this path for himself. His mother raised six kids on her own. Although she did the best she could, when she married, abuse entered their home. “As a child, I remember feeling weak, defenseless, and wishing that someone a lot bigger than me would come and protect me. Setting in my heart at that young age that, once I got bigger, I would do what I could so no other child would feel that way; as an adult, I began to complete that mission. I had no intentions of getting in law-enforcement, but again, God was given the pen. I felt that He had placed me in a position where I could shine a little light to that ‘younger me,’” Neville’ reveals.
His passion for children and his community led Neville’ to a career in law enforcement. In March of 2023, he was honored as The American Legion National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his accomplishments working as a School Resource Officer because of his hands-on approach to supporting and expanding programs in the district and community. He also works as the main contact point for the district in South Dakota Safe2Say Program and on the Sioux Council Juvenile Diversion Advisory Board.
His career in law enforcement allows him to help children like himself and has drawn Neville’ closer to God. Years ago, while on duty, the Lord told Neville’ that he would be tested in a life-or-death situation but not to fear because He would be with him. Just hours later, a gun was pulled on him and his partner. While waiting for back up, Joshua. 1:9 presented itself to Neville: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This scripture was on a bracelet Neville’s daughter had given to him on Father’s Day. At the time of the incident, “it was as if the Lord had set over me a very heavy, heavy blanket of peace. My voice was so calm over the radio that other officers did not respond because they thought that everything was under control,” Neville remembers.
Along with Joshua 1:9, the Lord confirmed Deuteronomy 31:9 in a dream a few years later: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Recognizing the connection with Joshua 1:9, these scriptures became Neville’s life scriptures given to him directly by God.
God continued to write Neville’s story, and he was ordained through the IPHC. Bishop Garry Bryant oversaw, and unknown to him, Bishop Bryant ordained Neville’ in the exact same city, Sioux City, Iowa, that it was prophesied he would become a pastor. In 2017, Neville’ and his wife, Jenny, founded and continue to pastor Iglesia el Camino (The Way Church) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (ACROSS Conference). While preaching, his wife provides Spanish translations to their congregation. His daughter is the assistant worship leader, and their oldest son plays the drums.
As a pastor, Neville’ shares the story of Joshua and how it holds a special place for him:
Following in Moses’ footsteps was a big responsibility, and while Moses had pastoral blood, Joshua had military/enforcement blood. With his experience, he had a more tactical approach to ministry. You see, God being King, Joshua knew that God was one of decency and order. He also knew what it was to follow orders. With Joshua, being my life chapter, I can relate to feeling ‘disqualified’ yet God says to me directly, “You be man (stay in your lane), and I’ll be God.”
In June of this year, Neville’ obtained his Doctorate degree and published his autobiography, Naked Before Christ. This book shares his upbringing and portrays his desire to help those like him. Targeting young adults, Neville’ hopes to encourage them and remind them that, regardless of their background, each can help change their story.
Throughout it all, Neville’ credits his success to God who took over the “pen” of his life and changed his story, as well as his obedience to Joshua 1:8. He also shares, “Thanks be to the opportunity given by IPHC, I’ve been given access to resources, connections, and relationships, that I do not believe I would have had on my own.”