Family provides core of faith for local woman

Published 9:04 am Monday, August 10, 2015

To glance at Joiya Smith, one instantly sees inner joy and fulfillment.

Raised in church, Smith practices what she preaches. She is no weekend warrior for Christ. She lives the faith all seven days of the week.

A 2012 graduate of Bogalusa High School, Smith is entering her senior year at Grambling State University where she was recently GSU Queen. She regularly attends church during the school year at Church of the Champions in Arcadia.

Smith’s home church is Bethlehem Baptist Church. The church is honoring Smith on Aug. 8 for her accomplishments at school and for her various activities. She hosts the “Little Eyes are watching” Summer Camp.

“I have a very religious family. I’ve spent a lot of time at Bethlehem as well as Salter Chapel A.M.E. Growing up, I was involved in Youth Mission, choir and the church praise team at Bethlehem. We used to do a lot of events, such as visiting nursing homes serving the community. I even remember going door to door Christmas caroling.”

When the time comes to have children, Smith said she believes she will know what to do by using her parents as examples.

“I feel as if Sunday School, children’s church and choir are major aspects when raising children,” Smith said. “All of those are auxiliaries serve as a foundation to my Christian values.”

Smith is the daughter of Robert and Veronica Smith. Her stepmother is Vaneda Smith. She has two brothers, Robert and Nick Smith, a sister, Chelsea, and a stepsister, Vaneda Valentine. She is especially close to her grandmother, Katherine Smith, and an aunt, Marie Smith.

“My family is my support system,” Smith said. “My grandmother was a vital part in raising me. I used to love going to her house to spend time with 20 different cousins. She raised us to protect each other and always look out for each other. That is why our family is so close-knit now. I admire my aunt for her strength.”

Smith’s parents divorced when she was in the third grade, but faith carried Smith through the difficult time.

“The divorce was hard at first, but now I’m so grateful to have such a loving stepmother,” Smith said. “I look at it as God blessing me with a second set of hands.”

Smith said college was an eye-opening experience.

“It wasn’t until college when I began to actually know God for myself,” Smith said. “It’s different when your mother is not waking you up to go to Sunday school. It became my own personal desire. Being on your own, you go through a lot of different challenges. Sometimes people are not the answer to your problem. My answers have come from prayer and faith.”

According to Smith, there is nothing too big to accomplish because of faith.

“I think those who believe in God need to know what it is to have a crazy faith. Understand that you serve the Most High and nothing is too big or small,” Smith said. “Stop being afraid to test God. I think part of my success is because I’m fearless. God opens doors, but sometimes you have to go knock on some doors to find your next step. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.”