In Hot Springs, Arkansas on March 19, 1931, Maggie Belle Smith had placed in her arms a ten-pound fourteen-ounce son. She and her husband, John Morgan Smith, had waited ten months for his arrival. It did not come easy. Ralph Morgan Smith was delivered by cesarean section; his mother nearly died in the birth of her new son. His life turned out to be as unique as his birth.
After graduation from high school, Ralph moved to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas. His intent was to become a lawyer, return to Hot Springs, and manage his father's businesses, which included a motel, dry cleaning establishment, garage, service station, reality company, and liquor store. However, during his first semester in college Ralph felt called by God to be a pastor. Embarrassed by his son's life-changing decision, his father cut off all financial support.
Ralph transferred to Ouachita Baptist University to continue his college degree. With no family or financial support, this seventeen-year-old college student experienced unusual challenges. Ralph supported himself by working in construction during the summer, at the post office during Christmas, and by pastoring small country churches on the weekends.
Bess Noble Smith became Ralph's wife on June 12, 1951. He was the twenty-year-old pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Bess had just graduated from Beaumont High School, Beaumont, Texas. They were blessed with three children: Diane, Wallace, and Peyton. Their marriage spanned fifty-six years until Bess' death following heart surgery, January 10, 2008. Dr. Smith considers his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren his greatest accomplishment in life.
Dr. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ouachita University, and a Bachelor of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Additionally, his college awarded him an honorary doctorate.
Following his ministry at First Baptist Church, Rosenberg, Texas, Dr. Smith served as the senior pastor of the Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. Under his leadership the church became a mega-church with over 10,000 members. The church established a Child Development Center with an enrollment of 275, a school for grades K-12 with an enrollment of 850, the Hyde Park Counseling Center, and the Hyde Part Foundation. In addition, the church sponsored and started 16 churches in Austin and another in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
During his ministry Dr. Smith was elected president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor's Conference. Additionally, he served as a trustee for Baylor University and as trustee chairman at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. For two years he was chairman of trustees of the North American Mission Board. He is the author of six books:
Living the Spirit-Filled Life,
published by Zondervan
You Can't Fall off the Floor is the very personal story of Dr. Smith's struggle with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a catastrophic illness that few have been able to conquer.
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