Urban Report

Personal Testimony

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Yvonne Lewis (Host), Esther Smith


Series Code: UBR

Program Code: UBR000209A

00:01 Stay tuned to meet a woman who survived the tragedy
00:04 that most people die from.
00:05 My name is Jason Bradley,
00:07 and you're watching Urban Report.
00:33 Hello and welcome to Urban Report.
00:35 My guest today is Esther Smith,
00:37 a woman with a personal testimony.
00:39 Welcome to Urban Report, Esther.
00:41 Thank you. Thank you for having me.
00:42 Oh, no problem.
00:43 So, we want to jump into your testimony
00:46 but we don't want to jump in too soon to the mid of it.
00:49 Tell us a little bit about your upbringing,
00:51 where are you from.
00:52 I was born in Louisiana.
00:55 Okay. And raise there as well.
00:58 My father is a pastor and my mom is an author now
01:02 and a stay at home mother.
01:05 I have...
01:06 I'm one of three siblings, I'm the youngest.
01:09 Okay.
01:10 And yes, it was pretty normal family
01:16 and just the four of us living in Louisiana.
01:20 Okay. Now were you raised Adventist?
01:23 I was.
01:24 My father is an Adventist pastor
01:27 and has been all of my life
01:29 and I was raised with all of the principles
01:32 that we are accustomed to
01:34 and alongside the customary,
01:39 you know, do good to everyone else
01:41 and golden rule type of things.
01:44 Okay, okay.
01:45 So they really instilled
01:46 the Christian values in your life.
01:49 Now you didn't always live in Louisiana.
01:52 Didn't you move from Louisiana or something?
01:54 Yes.
01:56 When my brother and I got older,
01:58 we went to college out of state,
02:01 and so but my parents still live in Louisiana, yes.
02:04 Okay, what college did you attend?
02:06 I actually attended Oakwood University in Alabama.
02:10 Yeah, okay. I went to Oakwood.
02:12 Yeah, it's almost like a family tradition.
02:16 My grandparents went there, my parents went there
02:19 and now my brother and I went there.
02:21 I went there for my undergrad.
02:23 Okay, okay.
02:24 Now what was it like growing up as the baby in the family?
02:27 Oh, you know, people say that growing up as a baby
02:31 in the family get away with everything,
02:33 that is not true at all.
02:36 I was definitely guided and protected more
02:41 so than my brother was, I think.
02:44 Even though, he kind of had free range in a way
02:48 and when I was growing up, my father kind of was like,
02:53 well you know you're kind of more gentle and delicate,
02:57 let's kind of guard you from the evils of the world.
03:01 So growing up as a baby in the family was, it was fun,
03:05 but definitely interesting.
03:07 Okay, okay.
03:09 I too, I'm the baby in the family.
03:11 Oh, cool. So I can relate.
03:13 So tell us a little bit more about your journey.
03:17 What took place, there was something in your life
03:20 that took place,
03:23 an accident if you will.
03:25 Tell us a little bit about that?
03:26 Yes.
03:28 Well, it was my junior year of college and prior to
03:33 because we had families staying in Alabama,
03:36 it was my junior year and we...
03:39 before that every break we kind of stayed in Alabama,
03:41 and my parents would drive up for the holidays
03:44 and we spend that time there.
03:46 But this particular Christmas, we decided...
03:50 my brother and I have to drive home.
03:53 And so we did that, it's about a seven hour drive
03:57 and that's fine.
03:58 So we packed up all of our things
04:00 and got in my little car and drove home,
04:04 and on the way home was when I discovered that
04:09 my brother had purchased a gun...
04:13 Really. And oh, yeah.
04:16 It was...
04:17 Why do you think?
04:19 Did he feel that he needed a gun
04:21 or what was he trying to be cool,
04:23 what do you think it was?
04:24 Well, I asked him because given the way
04:27 that we were brought up and our parents raised us,
04:31 it was extremely out of character
04:33 to do such a thing.
04:34 And so I asked him, "You know why do you have this,
04:38 why do you need it, or what are you doing with it?"
04:41 And he told me, "Well, you know,
04:44 you haven't been watching the things in the news lately,
04:46 and he went on to talk about, you know,
04:50 just the things that are happening politically
04:54 I guess with police and African-American males
04:58 and the situations that have constantly
05:01 seem to appear in the media.
05:04 And he went on to talk about how scared he was about that
05:08 happening to him too.
05:10 And me being I guess
05:13 more in the line of my parent's thinking,
05:15 I was like "Whoa!
05:16 God protect us, why would you need a gun,
05:19 why would you need a weapon," and it's almost
05:22 the biggest handgun that you could actually get
05:26 is a 45 caliber pistol,
05:29 and these types of guns are used
05:32 to kill deer and animals,
05:36 it's a huge bullet,
05:40 and that really kind of heavy weapon.
05:42 Yes.
05:43 And you know it's bit of an argument
05:46 that went on within the car talking about
05:48 why he would need that
05:49 and why it was in my car specifically.
05:51 Yeah, and it seems like, if there is a fear of
05:55 what's going on with the police...
05:58 It doesn't seem like having a gun or owning a gun
06:01 would help the situation with the police.
06:03 Yeah, definitely not.
06:05 I tried to convey that to my brother and you know
06:08 just saying "Okay, I understand
06:12 where you're coming from with that fear, you know
06:14 that's a very real fear for African-Americans now.
06:20 I understand where you're coming from
06:21 with that but on the same hand, if you have a weapon
06:26 they're more incline to be,
06:28 more proactive as oppose to saying okay,
06:31 we're gonna ask you a few questions
06:32 as to why you have that.
06:34 So I told him either way your logic is completely flawed
06:39 so...
06:40 And how did he take that?
06:42 Well, as I said it was an argument
06:44 and so it's kind of
06:46 lighthearted talking about it now but in the moment
06:50 it was a very real conflict happening in my car
06:53 and I couldn't understand why he would do,
06:59 why he would purchase it,
07:00 why he would actually go out and buy one.
07:02 And he was saying "You know, I have the proper training,
07:06 I went through the classes and everything.
07:09 I have a license, I've done everything legally,
07:11 this gun is legally in my procession,
07:14 and guns don't kill people, people do."
07:17 And I have a problem with that statement too,
07:22 but that was his logic behind it
07:25 and we continue the ride home and, you know,
07:29 put the gun back in the glove compartment
07:32 but that was a challenging moment for me
07:37 between my brother and I.
07:38 Yeah, I can only imagine because it sounds to me
07:41 like he felt very strongly about owning a firearm.
07:45 So what happened, what transpired in that car?
07:50 Well, when we got home
07:53 I immediately went to tell my parents like,
07:56 he has a gun, like, this is terrible,
07:58 take it away from him.
08:00 And my parents have always taught my brother
08:03 and I to use our own minds to use the logic
08:10 that God gave us and come up with logical conclusions
08:13 to situations in life.
08:14 And so my parents
08:16 didn't immediately repossessed the gun from him,
08:20 they wanted to see why he thought that he needed one,
08:25 what's the real purpose behind this kind of thinking,
08:28 and where did it originate.
08:30 And so it was that Thursday that we drove home,
08:35 Friday we had more discussions as to why he had it,
08:40 again getting pretty heated.
08:42 And then Saturday, we went to church
08:46 and my father preached.
08:47 And on the way to church,
08:50 I discovered that the gun was still in my car.
08:52 And so I talked to him about that and he decided that
08:58 he wanted to show our godbrother
09:00 that he'd gotten the gun.
09:02 And so after church
09:06 on our way home he decided to do that
09:09 and my godbrother was sitting in the car
09:12 in the seat...
09:14 Well, my brother was sitting in the seat behind me,
09:16 my godbrother sitting opposite to him
09:18 and my godsister sitting in the passenger side.
09:21 And I'm driving home and so my godsister and I,
09:26 we convinced them that
09:27 hey having the gun out in the car
09:29 with all of us driving is not smart at all.
09:34 Absolutely.
09:35 So we need to put that gun up, put it on safety,
09:39 and put it away.
09:40 And so they understood
09:44 that was probably the smarter thing to do.
09:46 Yeah.
09:47 And my brother moved to put the gun away
09:50 and disable it and disassemble it
09:54 and he managed to get the bullet clip out of the gun,
09:58 but he didn't remember that there was a bullet
10:03 in the firing chamber of the weapon.
10:06 And you know a lot of guns these days are build
10:09 with a hairline trigger.
10:11 I learned later that actually means
10:14 that it only needs very little pressure to go off.
10:18 And the gun did go off,
10:21 his finger kind of brushed the trigger
10:24 and it went off directly
10:27 into the center of the driver seat,
10:29 where I was sitting...
10:30 Where you were.
10:32 Wow! Okay.
10:33 So you're driving your car,
10:34 you just got out of church, right?
10:36 Yeah.
10:37 You're driving the car, you're headed,
10:39 where were you headed, back home?
10:40 Back home, yeah.
10:41 Back home from church
10:43 and your brother pulls out the gun
10:45 to show your godbrother
10:48 and then you talk them out of it like it's,
10:51 you know, this is a bad idea.
10:53 He goes to take the clip out and everything,
10:56 forgets that there is one in the chamber,
10:59 goes to put it up, and accidentally shoots you.
11:02 Yeah.
11:04 He shot me and...
11:06 it is unlike any other feeling I have felt before.
11:10 Yeah, what is it, what did it feel like?
11:13 Well, initially it feels like
11:17 someone has just hit you very, very hard
11:21 and the only thing that I have ever likened it
11:24 to was being hit by steel bat.
11:27 It's the only thing that I could actually think of
11:30 that could have
11:32 such a velocity to hit you with.
11:35 And I couldn't...
11:38 the breath is like not from you
11:40 and it's very,
11:45 it's almost very weird to describe
11:48 because it's not a normal feeling,
11:50 it's not a natural feeling, and...
11:54 I remember knowing instantly that I was shot,
11:57 knowing instantly.
11:59 Just because my car is very small
12:02 and it was the...
12:05 And the windows were up and so when the gun went off
12:08 it...
12:10 The sound in the car was massive
12:12 and it was deafening, and...
12:15 knowing instantly that I had sustained a bullet.
12:19 Man.
12:20 And so did you wreck the car like what...
12:23 I mean you got shot so it seems like,
12:27 there is a possibility that you could have wreck the car,
12:29 what happened, did you pull over
12:31 like what I mean...
12:32 Well, my first thought was "Oh, God I'm driving,
12:38 I don't know how I'm gonna stop this car."
12:40 And so what I did, what I knew initially
12:43 I had to was either try to stop the car,
12:46 I'm going about 60, 65 miles an hour.
12:49 And I know that I have to bring this car to stop.
12:53 And so I try to bring the car,
12:58 I tried to put my foot on the pedal,
13:00 but I realized that I'm going in between
13:02 the gas and the break,
13:03 and I can't function properly to bring my foot down
13:07 on to the break pedal
13:09 and to literally save my life, I couldn't do it.
13:12 Yeah.
13:13 And so I go to
13:17 and I'm thinking, okay, so I can't seem
13:19 to put my foot on the pedal, I have to...
13:22 My next option is to
13:24 stop touching the accelerator at all
13:26 and hopefully it will slow down by itself.
13:28 And it did that, thank God, it slowed down
13:31 and we were able to kind of coast to the side of the road.
13:36 And while I'm trying to, while I'm having these thoughts
13:39 to myself like, okay, I have to stop the car,
13:41 I have to try to not kill everyone else.
13:45 My brother, there's chaos in the car,
13:48 everyone is screaming, my godsister is in tears,
13:51 she can't compose herself and everyone is screaming,
13:55 "Oh my God, what happened, what happened?"
13:56 Because I had screamed, "You shot me, you shot me."
13:59 And so everybody is trying to verify that information.
14:02 Wow!
14:03 And so...
14:05 I'm bringing the car down
14:07 and my brother is trying to figure out
14:08 what happens, he actually bends me over
14:11 to see whether or not he'd actually shot me.
14:15 And so he does
14:18 and sees that my clothes are torn
14:20 and there is you know this bullet sized hole
14:23 in the back of my clothes and...
14:26 because I got shot on...
14:29 in my back two-and-half inches from my spine.
14:32 Whoa!
14:33 - Yeah. - Whoa!
14:34 And so he leans me over and he sees that you know
14:38 I was shot in fact,
14:41 and so he jumps over me to stop the car.
14:45 So he's sitting in my lap and he's stopping the car,
14:48 he brings the car to stop
14:50 and everybody pass out of the car
14:52 and they're panicking,
14:54 and you know, in our little town,
14:56 in our little country road their weren't cars on the road.
14:59 And so my brother is sitting in the road
15:04 and he is rocking back and forth with his head
15:07 in his hands and he's screaming "What have I done,
15:10 what have I done, oh my God,"
15:11 and everybody is not sure what to do exactly.
15:14 And I remember at this time just feeling kind of sleepy,
15:19 I instantly felt sleepy after the car was stopped.
15:25 And I remember knowing that we have to get to the hospital,
15:30 we have to get to the hospital.
15:32 That's what needs to happen right now.
15:34 And so a little deliberation goes on
15:37 and then everybody kind of figure outs a way
15:39 to make that happen including moving me
15:42 to the backseat of the car.
15:44 - Wow. - Yeah.
15:45 So they drove you to the hospital and call 911,
15:50 no ambulance or anything like that?
15:51 Well, they did called 911 on the way
15:56 but our little town has one hospital
16:00 and the ambulance at that time was somewhere else
16:03 and they were too far to get to us
16:05 and so they said, you know what,
16:06 you guys are just gonna have to drive here.
16:09 And so that's what we ended up doing.
16:11 But on the backseat of that car,
16:13 in the backseat
16:16 once my brother had moved me and we were making
16:18 the desperate drive to the hospital.
16:21 I had one of the clearest moments
16:24 with God that I've ever had in my life.
16:27 Yeah.
16:28 So tell us about that?
16:30 Yeah.
16:31 I, you know,
16:34 a lot of the things that we experience in life
16:36 is kind of TV influence, I believe.
16:38 Yes.
16:39 And so here I was in the backseat of the car
16:42 just knowing that I'm going to choke to death
16:47 and drown in my own blood.
16:49 And all my life there have been two things
16:53 that I feared the most.
16:55 One was getting shot, and the other one was drowning,
16:59 and I faced both of those things in one day.
17:03 And so I'm laying in the backseat of the car,
17:07 and I just know,
17:10 I just know that I'm gonna choke to death.
17:11 I just know it.
17:13 And because I'm not sure what was hit,
17:16 I'm not sure what was damaged.
17:18 And so I'm praying on the backseat of the car,
17:22 "Lord, I know you didn't bring me here
17:25 to three days home,
17:27 it's the third day home,
17:28 I know you didn't bring me to die
17:31 in the backseat of my own car.
17:34 And desperately praying, and I'm trying to
17:38 nothing could come to my mind,
17:39 and I'm trying to remember the Lord's prayer,
17:41 and it doesn't come fully,
17:44 I remember I think the first couple of lines of it.
17:47 And I'm praying and I hear
17:51 the clearest voice and the most calmed voice.
17:55 In my head I'm going kind of crazy
17:59 with all of the different thoughts
18:00 of what can happen.
18:02 Did this actually happen to me?
18:04 And the voice I remember like it was yesterday
18:08 what it said, it said
18:11 "This isn't for you, this is for him,
18:14 you are going to be okay."
18:17 Wow!
18:18 Yeah.
18:19 Wow!
18:21 Now we have some pics, that's powerful.
18:24 We have some pictures
18:26 of when you went to the hospital,
18:29 we want to put those up now.
18:31 And just tell us what's going on
18:33 in those pictures?
18:35 Well, in this first picture here
18:39 I think this was right after my surgery,
18:42 when we got into the hospital.
18:45 My mom took those pictures
18:47 and here you can see I'm hooked up
18:49 with every kind of tube you can imagine.
18:52 And under those blankets, I have tubes all over my body.
18:56 Here the doctors actually removing those tubes
18:59 which is kind of more terrifying
19:00 than having it put in,
19:02 because you can actually feel those tubes being removed.
19:06 Here I was actually learning to walk again,
19:10 I had to...
19:11 You can see there in the picture,
19:13 there is a walker that I was being
19:16 taught to use again with the physical therapist
19:20 there in hospital.
19:22 Now this one, that's you're getting out.
19:26 Yeah, this is me going home finally on Christmas Eve.
19:29 Wow!
19:30 You got out on Christmas Eve?
19:32 - Wow. - Yeah.
19:34 Wow.
19:35 Now how did this event affect your family?
19:39 How did this and how did it impact your brother
19:42 because you were in the backseat
19:43 and you heard the voice and it said
19:44 this is not for you, this is for him.
19:47 How did that impact your bother and your family?
19:50 I know your parents had been devastated.
19:53 Well, yes, it was the most,
19:57 I'm sure it's the worst thing that a parent can imagine.
20:01 I got... Once we got to that hospital,
20:03 there were two surgeries that I had to go through
20:05 and a list of injuries that included a collapsed lung
20:09 and damaged punctured liver and bruised ribs
20:13 and you know, all sorts of things
20:15 and I woke up from surgery on Wednesday
20:19 actually four days later.
20:20 And so my parents and my family were heartbroken,
20:25 you know, and my brother wouldn't leave the hospital,
20:30 you know, you have visiting hours
20:31 and he said
20:33 "I'm not going until she's okay,
20:35 until she's all right."
20:37 But in the long run I think
20:40 it strengthened our family,
20:42 because it's literally the worst thing
20:45 that a family could even conceive happening,
20:49 brother shooting a sister
20:52 and being raised the way
20:53 that we were raised
20:55 and having the sort of foundation
20:57 that my parents gave us is not something
21:00 that you would ever think would happen.
21:02 But it was the hardest thing,
21:05 it was the hardest thing going through
21:07 and living through,
21:09 and even to this day
21:11 my brother has a hard time talking about it.
21:13 But I think on the long run getting through it
21:17 and moving past it and watching us
21:21 all grow and kind of cling to each other after that.
21:24 It definitely help to build stronger bonds
21:27 and in a way
21:30 that only God can create, we're better for it.
21:33 Yeah.
21:34 So that's how you guys are coping today,
21:36 like you're stronger.
21:38 You know they say tragedy brings
21:39 people together typically, it brings people closer,
21:43 but that is extremely tough, and I can only imagine
21:46 how frightened you must have been,
21:49 but how comforting that voice must have been
21:51 when you were in the backseat of the car.
21:55 What is that you really want people
21:57 to take away from your testimony?
22:00 Well, as I said there are two things in my life
22:03 that I was absolutely afraid of happening,
22:07 being shot and drowning.
22:08 And in one day
22:11 I had to face both of those things happening to me.
22:15 And you know there is a text in the Bible
22:19 that talks about
22:22 the weapons that come against that...
22:26 the weapons that are formed would not prosper."
22:29 Okay. Yeah.
22:30 For some reason it's not coming right now.
22:32 That's awesome in the song too that I've heard,
22:34 no weapons formed against you will prosper.
22:36 Yeah.
22:38 Yeah, but God doesn't say
22:41 that the weapon won't be fired in my case
22:45 and so what I would want someone
22:49 to take away from my testimony, from my family's testimony,
22:54 ultimately would be that God keeps his promises.
22:56 Yes.
22:58 And no matter what we face, no matter what we go through,
23:00 even the worst thing
23:02 that you can imagine happening to you.
23:04 God is still there just like he was there seconds
23:06 before that happened to you.
23:08 And so when God promise us something,
23:13 we can grab hold on to that and cling to it for dear life
23:18 and I think that is a powerful thing
23:22 that we face especially in a time
23:25 where you're afraid for your life
23:27 or even the smallest thing,
23:29 maybe you're having a bad day
23:30 but God says that he will always be there
23:33 with us by our sides,
23:34 holding us through and keeping us together.
23:36 And so that's what I would want someone
23:39 to take away from my testimony.
23:40 God is absolutely real
23:43 and he absolutely cares about you
23:45 and he keeps all of the promises
23:48 that he gives to us.
23:49 Yes, that's beautiful.
23:51 Now there were no legal ramifications
23:54 or anything for your brother or anything,
23:56 I mean it was accident you know,
23:59 but there is no type of legal accuse or anything?
24:02 You would think so but no.
24:05 They asked about
24:08 whether it had been preconceived in a way
24:12 or he hadn't done it,
24:14 if he had done it on purpose
24:15 in which case I would need to file,
24:17 lots of paper work with the police department.
24:20 But you know once we established
24:22 that it was in fact an accident
24:24 and he did not mean to do that at all.
24:27 There was no legal ramifications
24:30 that my brother succumb
24:31 to other than having his gun taken away
24:33 and filing a police report
24:36 with the police department in our town.
24:41 Now, it was pretty quickly done on that side where we said,
24:45 well, you know it's an accident,
24:46 it definitely was not meant to happen
24:49 and so no, not on that
24:52 and it wasn't too complicated on that end.
24:54 Okay, okay.
24:56 And so what's his take on owning a gun now,
25:03 because those fears with the police,
25:06 his reasoning, those fears still exist?
25:09 Yeah.
25:11 So what is his take now on owning a firearm?
25:15 That's a good question.
25:17 Well, it's an interesting thing because the reason for...
25:21 His reason for actually getting a gun
25:25 is only getting worse.
25:26 You know, there are things that are happening
25:28 all over the nation now.
25:29 Absolutely.
25:31 But now he wouldn't get a gun.
25:36 Now I think, now he realizes
25:39 the God's capability in a way
25:44 to protect us in a way
25:47 because he had a first,
25:49 a front row seat to God's protection.
25:52 And so my brother even though
25:57 he had a real reason for wanting to get one,
26:00 flawed though it may be,
26:03 I think he more,
26:05 the way that he looks at the situation today
26:09 is to just try to keep yourself in line
26:11 and not get in those situations
26:14 where it might lead us
26:17 one of the more typical incidents
26:19 that happen in America now.
26:20 I think he's just trying to be even
26:24 and level across the whole board with it
26:26 and not use weapons of any kind.
26:30 Yes.
26:31 Well, I can't even,
26:34 I can't imagine what it would feel like...
26:37 One of my brothers actually was shot too,
26:40 he got shot four times
26:42 and had just missed his spine as well.
26:44 So I can relate in that sense
26:46 but I can't even imagine what it must have felt like,
26:50 what it must have been like,
26:51 like being that close to death feeling
26:56 like you might potentially die.
26:59 It's utterly terrifying, it's terrifying.
27:04 You know when people,
27:06 when you have that kind of moment on television,
27:08 if you're watching a show and someone is close to death,
27:11 you know it's a television show,
27:14 but you also think,
27:15 oh, I wonder what that person is feeling.
27:17 Yes.
27:18 I think depending on the situation,
27:20 but definitely with my situation
27:21 it's absolutely terrifying,
27:24 because you know, it's so sudden,
27:26 you don't think that it would happen,
27:29 but we can depend on God always.
27:31 And it's definitely strengthened your relationship
27:34 with the Lord, correct?
27:35 Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah.
27:38 Man, you have a powerful testimony.
27:40 I hate that you had go through that
27:43 and experienced that
27:44 but I'm glad that as a result of it,
27:46 it strengthened your relationship
27:49 and you've grown tremendously
27:52 and your brother has grown as well,
27:53 and it brought your family closer together.
27:55 Thank you for coming on.
27:57 Thank you for having me.
27:58 And thank you for watching.
28:00 Well, we've reached the end of another program.
28:02 Join us next time
28:03 and remember it just wouldn't be the same without you.


Revised 2016-12-01