Lewisville pastor leads on local issues

LEWISVILLE?Over three decades as pastor of Lakeland Baptist Church in Lewisville, Ben Smith has waged a battle or two for righteousness in his city on the fringe of northwest Dallas.

The first one?an election 25 years ago over local liquor options, got on the ballot but was voted down in the election, 2-1. Since then, the liquor issue has come up several times but has never taken hold, something Smith accounts to all-night prayer vigils and committed church members taking responsibility for their community.

He recalled once a local pastor showing up at his church at 2 a.m. to pray. “The Lord’s been so gracious to us. I attribute a great deal of that to prayer,” he said.

“God has ways of doing things if you let him work,” Smith said.

There was the sexually-oriented “warehouse” off Highway 121 that left Denton County, thanks to Christians such as those at Lakeland taking a stand; the owners promised not to relocate in Denton County. The massage parlors are also gone, thanks in part to Smith and his congregation.

Smith noted that when a petition, such as is used in liquor option issues, is circulated in hopes of making the ballot, the church gets a public record list of the petition authors and begins praying for them by name. They even contact them personally, telling them they are being prayed for and expressing the church’s views.

Lakeland has regularly printed fact sheets when moral concerns arise, “telling the truth about what alcohol does, what pornography does, sexually-oriented businesses. We get facts and data and we publish that information in a factoid, and we distribute it to the preachers so they can use it in their sermons and put them in the newspaper?just telling people the truth.”

In an election, a useful tool is the yard sign, which is effective if the message is clear and issue focused, Smith said.

Also, “I believe it’s every pastor’s responsibility to have the businesses of his city and key leaders of his city on his e-mail address list,” Smith noted. “It’s better to work with these guys than to have to fight them. I share information with them. I never, ever attack their person. It’s always an issue, never a person.

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and rulers of darkness in high places. That’s where you have to fight the battle.”

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