Brian Nichols held a gun to Ashley Smith’s face and forced his way into her apartment, taking her hostage. The day before he had murdered four people at Atlanta’s Fulton county courthouse, stolen a car, and was on the run. Now he was holed up in 26-year-old Ashley’s apartment and threatening her.
The book recounts the remarkable events of March 12, 2005 in which Ashley silently cries out to God for hours and is transformed by God’s help. She goes from fear to pure courage and boldness. She knows God is somehow behind all that is happening and becomes a transformed person of convictions. She was able to get through to Brian and convince him that he must surrender and make the evil chain of events stop. We see Brian changing too.
Ashley does indeed seem to be the perfect kind of person to be able to connect with Brian Nichols. She was a widow, single mother, and a drug addict. Ashley’s former husband had been murdered, and she comes to the point where she is able to boldly tell Brian what it does to a wife and child when a husband and father are taken away. Ashley had voluntarily given up custody of her three and one half year old daughter, Paige, because of her own lifestyle. But she wanted to change and be Paige’s mother again. In the meantime, her aunt Kim was Paige’s custodian.
A moment of truth comes to Ashley when she lays out her stash of crystal meth for Brian. She then has a deep conviction that she will not be taking any of it with him. She tells him she wished she hadn’t offered it to him and that he should stay away from it too. She had always been weak up to that point, but now she tells Brian she is done with her drug life.
“Looking at him right then, I suddenly realized I didn’t feel afraid anymore. I wasn’t afraid of him. I wasn’t afraid of what might happen to me in this apartment. I truly felt peaceful - as if God was just next to me. I couldn’t believe it. There was no fear. I’m not scared right here. I’m okay. I had already made my decision - I knew I wasn’t touching those drugs - and right now that seemed like all that mattered. That was what God wanted. I was doing what he wanted and he was right here with me. It’s okay. I’m right here. You can stop. God was helping me. I was stopping like he said. And I wasn’t afraid.”
Ashley also becomes unconcerned about what people will think of her. She cares about God and intends to live for him. She becomes completely open to Brian and showed how she also has been a great sinner. As time went on Ashley was able to read to him from the Bible and Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. She even made him a pancake breakfast. The entire atmosphere in that apartment has been transformed. And Brian does eventually surrender peacefully.
In this amazing book we read of transformed lives under circumstances most of us never have dealt with. God works with all of us and cares about our weaknesses. There are many lessons to be applied.
Brian needed Ashley, but in an astonishing way Ashley also needed Brian. Under that extreme pressure, God transformed her.
This reviewer communicated with Ashley by email to get an update on her life, and to ask some questions. Since that frightening night Ashley has married again. Her husband is Daniel Robinson, and they live in Gainesville, Georgia. She once again has legal custody of her daughter, Paige.
She had been trying to get her life together before her night of trauma and was taking medical assistant training. She has continued that training and as of this writing (September, 2009) that training goes on. She just finished her first year in radiology tech school.
“Have drugs had any hold on you since the Brian Nichols event? Have you ever weakened and done them at times?” Her brief reply: “NO.”
Ashley visits and speaks to groups that arrange for her to come. “What types of groups do you feel you are best for?” She replies: “Young people and women … as well as hurting people.”
She maintains an internet blog and information about her as well as how to book her for an event for a group you would like her to speak to are given there. Go to http://ashleysmithrobinson.com.
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