Dawn Smith Jordan talks of forgiveness
by Robert Joseph Baker | June 26, 2014 8:48 am
Last Updated: June 25, 2014 at 10:01 pm
Dawn Smith Jordan has good reason to live by the words in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
“It says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,’” Jordan told a congregation at Summerton Baptist Church on Sunday night. “That verse has touched me in so many instances, when I’ve been just so broken and down-hearted.”
The first time Jordan referenced it during Sunday’s evening service at the church was to talk about the dissolution of her marriage in the late 1990s. The second was when she mentioned the murder of her 17-year-old sister in the mid-1980s.
“Throughout all the turmoil and trials, my God tells me that his grace is sufficient,” Jordan said.
Jordan, a Christian vocalist, pianist and songwriter, performs at churches throughout the southeast to tell her story of grace and forgiveness. She said it took her many years to forgive Larry Gene Bell, the man ultimately executed for the murder of her sister, Shari Faye Smith.
Bell kidnapped the 17 year old just two days before her planned high school graduation. He then called the Smith home for nearly a month, taunting the family with supposed messages from Shari Faye saying she was glad to be leaving, that she hated her boyfriend and she was never coming home.
Jordan was just four years older than her sister when the girls was kidnapped at gunpoint from the end of the family’s driveway on Platt Springs Road in Columbia. Shari Faye’s predicament was made all the more terrifying due to a rare case of diabetes that required the teenager to drink copious amounts of water and have her medication handy at all times.
Jordan was ultimately on the end of the phone call where Bell confessed to killing Shari Faye and dumping her body in Saluda County. He also admitted to killing a 9-year-old Richland County girl, and told Jordan where her body could be found.
“This terrible, awful man taunted us for a month,” Jordan said. “I was glad to see him sent to death row. I struggled with how to forgive him.”
“I went to God and just told him, ‘I don’t know how to respond to this,’” Jordan said. “And there was his voice again, telling me that His grace is sufficient, and that I should forgive as he has forgiven me.”
Bell was ultimately electrocuted by the state of South Carolina in 1996, but not before Jordan was able to let go of the rage and bitterness she held toward him.
“Jesus was on the cross, and he said, ‘Father, Dawn has done these terrible things. She didn’t know any better,’” Jordan said. “If He can forgive me, how can I not forgive (Larry Gene Bell). I was able to forgive that man, and God didn’t do it for him, but he did it for me.”
Jordan also spoke in Turbeville on Sunday. She was ultimately crowned Miss South Carolina in 1986, just a year after her sister’s untimely death. She went on to place first runner-up in the Miss America Pageant.
If you missed Jordan’s stopover this weekend, she will be back soon: She will be the special guest at a Junior Ambassador Luncheon on Aug. 22. Check back in a later edition and on manninglive.com for more details.
More videos from Dawn Smith Jordan’s performance at Summerton Baptist Church will be available on manninglive.com at 3:30 p.m. today.
Here, Dawn Smith Jordan reads a letter written by her sister, Sheri Faye Smith, shortly before her death at the hands of Larry Gene Bell in 1985.