His Ministries, Inc., is housed in a brick building on Wood Avenue in downtown Big Stone Gap. The story behind the ministry is full of faith and the spirit of devoted passion.
Shirley Smith and her late husband, Paul, started His Ministries, Inc., 20 years ago from the ground up, and Shirley is continuing to soar to new heights with her enthusiasm and faith. The Smiths’ story and what brought them to Big Stone Gap has not been without obstacles, praise, tears and joyous moments.
Paul and Shirley met in Anderson, S.C., at Northside Baptist Church on Easter weekend in 1990.
After a traumatic childhood and early adulthood life with addictions, Paul decided to leave Louisiana, his home at that time, and hitch hiked randomly to Anderson, S.C.
One night, the shelter Paul was staying in required the men to attend a play at Anderson College. It was Shirley’s home church of Northside putting on the play. She was in the choir that evening, and later recalled hearing everyone talk about the young man from the shelter who ran down the aisle to give his life to Christ.
That young man ended up accepting Shirley’s offer to attend an Easter dinner, offered by the church, and after two years – over Bible studies and many conversations – Paul asked Shirley to marry him.
Before they got married, Paul wanted to reconnect with his extended family in Big Stone Gap. They arrived in June of 1993 to meet Paul’s family. While visiting, God spoke to Shirley about serving him in Big Stone Gap. Shirley was hesitant to share God’s plan with Paul since they had never talked about moving, but when she did, she discovered God had called Paul down the same future pathway. They confirmed their plans after returning to South Carolina and set out for their new home.
Once settled, Shirley’s son started paving the way for their future ministry. Shirley was homeschooling her 6-year-old son when he decided to take his little red Bible and share the word of God with neighborhood children. Even though his childlike, but stern, approach was questioned - and chased - by the other children, Shirley decided to use this opportunity to start a Bible study with the kids living around them.
“A few months later, God miraculously gave me every tool I needed to start the Bible study. He provided the study materials and the crafts,” Shirley said.
Within one year, 31 kids were showing up for the Bible study. Shirley started noticing a consistent theme in the prayer requests. A large majority of the children knew someone in their family dealing with alcohol or drug addiction, so the Smiths started ministering to the family members of the children in the study group.
“Whether it was something we expected to do or not, it just happened. We became ministers to these families; we visited with them and prayed with them,” said Shirley.
Through these experiences and a later mentoring trip to New York City to work in David Wilkerson’s ministry, the Smiths decided to take their ministry to the next step and “took a leap of faith.”
His Ministries, Inc., was started to provide programs, services, education, training and mentoring to combat addictions. Donations to His Ministries, Inc., support substance abuse support services, provide a 12-week class for the incarcerated, a community service workplace, and speaking/educational engagements on addictions. Funding also goes to “The Edge,” a music venue teen center, and The Edge student-training program. On average, His Ministries, Inc., assists 30 families with food and school supplies.
The ministry started off in a small building in 1994, called I John 421-B. Later, it expanded to its current location and grew to include “The Edge” teen center and a thrift store.
“We want to show people there is help and a savior. There is a different way of life, an alternative way of life compared to the situation many are currently in,” said Shirley.
In December of 2004, Paul passed away due to complications from a liver transplant. Even then, Shirley knew through her testimony “God called me to be here.” Shirley’s purpose, passion and mission are in His Ministries in Big Stone Gap and that is exactly where she plans to remain.
For more information, or details about how to donate to the ministry, visit www.hisministries.hqters.com, like His Ministries, Inc., on Facebook, or call