Ashley Smith Robinson
The Atlanta Hostage Hero
Travels from Georgia
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By her own account, Ashley Smith Robinson is far from an angel or a hero. Yet today, her face is known around the world as the single mother who persuaded Brian Nichols, Atlanta's courtroom killer, to surrender to police. Nichols called Ashley "an angel sent from God", but, ironically, it was Ashley's less-than-angelic past that allowed her to convince him to face justice.
Elizabeth Ashley Copeland Smith was born August 1, 1978, in Augusta, Georgia, surrounded by a God-fearing, sports-loving family. Her parents divorced when she was a toddler, and she spent much of her early years in the company of her mother's extended family - especially her grandfather and aunt, who both worked at Augusta Christian, the private school Ashley attended through 8th grade.
At an early age, she took up with, Mack Smith, and became pregnant less than a year into the relationship. The couple married just two months before baby Paige was born prematurely, weighing less than 3 lbs. It was a volatile marriage, but Ashley was determined to keep her family together. Things were beginning to settle down when Mack ran into his old gang, exchanged ugly words and was fatally stabbed by people he once called friends.
Following Mack's murder, Ashley willingly gave her Aunt Kim temporary custody of Paige, who was now a healthy three-and-a-half year old. She wanted to be a mother to her daughter, but her addiction to methamphetamines kept pulling her farther away from her dreams. God kept calling, but Ashley always put Him on hold while she flirted with temptation. All of that changed dramatically on March 11, 2005, when Brian Nichols forced his way into her apartment following his deadly rampage at Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse. He asked for marijuana. Before thinking it through, she offered him her remaining stash of meth- the thing that had dragged her life down. Several miracles followed, which allowed her to talk to Nichols about God's purpose for their meeting.
Among her few possessions was a copy of Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life." She was on chapter 32-"Using What God Gave You." During her seven hours as Nichols' hostage, she read from this chapter and encouraged him to consider how he might be able to serve God if he surrendered, which he did the following morning.
Ashley believes that God led her through her dark hours with Nichols, and has called her to use the highly publicized experience to help unlikely angels everywhere find hope.
Today, Ashley is back in active worship at her local church, attends weekly Bible study, and enjoys a full life with her new husband and her daughter. She has returned to the familiar embrace of her extended, sports-loving family and has embarked on a tour to promote "Unlikely Angel-The Untold Story of Atlanta's Hostage Hero," which debuted at #15 on the New York Times Bestseller List. According to her wishes, some of the proceeds from the book will be donated to a memorial fund that will honor the victims of the courthouse tragedy.
"The mixture of tragedy and triumph in this woman's life has put her in the public eye with the power to do immense good. This book is clear, sincerely written, and will inspire others. Anyone who saw Ashley Smith on television, as I did, on the first night that she spoke to the public -- anyone who has seen her since in numerous interviews -- can not doubt that she is authentic, thoughtful and quietly courageous, and that her faith is not only genuine, but the guiding force in her life. This is an American chronicle, about loss, addiction, struggle, and the eternal striving to be good. Highly recommended for those who want to know about a moment in our history, and also about the power of faith and a generous heart. "
New York Times Bestselling Author
"It has been incredible to see God at work so visibly in the true life transformation of Ashley Smith. To witness how far she has come in her personal walk and relationship with God is nothing short of amazing. Ashley now serves in our student ministry, preschool ministry and is a vital part of our community groups here at The Church at Greenbrier. She is a modern example of what God can and will do when someone recklessly abandons to Him!"
Pastor at Ashley's home church
The Church at Greenbrier; Augusta, Georgia
"May I recommend to you Ashley Smith as an extraordinary young lady who will present a powerful message to your people. She is a living example of someone transformed by God. She incorporates in her testimony the truth about how God took an ordinary person who struggles like so many and used her in an extraordinary way to save lives and to accomplish His purpose. Please give careful attention to this young lady's story about a life transformed, used by God, and touching lives across our country. I have known her since she was a child. I have seen her walk through many struggles. I have seen a young lady come out on the other side of struggle, tragedy, and pain to be a person whose number one desire is to bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Dr. Frank S. Page, Senior Pastor
Taylors First Baptist Church; Taylors, South Carolina
"Thank you for being willing to come to the Douglas County Department of Corrections to share your story. The Lord used you tremendously as you spoke to the inmates. You related to them in a loving and personal way. You were honest and real and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Good News Jail & Prison Ministry
"Ashley Smith has a God-given presence and story that will impact any audience. She is the most generous speaker we have ever had; making extra ministry appearances at a prison, speaking to 100 women - 25 who committed their lives to Christ. Ashley holds nothing back, gives all the glory to God and loves Him personally. Many in attendance responded to the Gospel message. I cannot recommend her highly enough."
Nancy Cobb, Director of Women's Ministries
Christ Community Church; Omaha, Nebraska
"The afternoon before [Ashley] spoke to a meeting of our Agape Society members, our highest level of donors, she took time to visit our Women and Children's Center and spent time sharing with the women who are in the residential addition recovery program. She connected with the women on an individual level and made a huge impact with her message of hope and redemption. Even after she departed the women continued discussing things they heard from Ashley. Ashley is clear in expressing her faith, open about her battle with addiction and highly effective as a speaker. You will be touched by her courage. Your heart will be touched and you will be challenged to a faithful commitment to God."
David M. Coleman
President / CEO
Atlanta Union Mission
"Ashley's story illustrates four spiritual truths that give us hope and encouragement for those difficult times in our lives. First, no matter what bad decisions you've made, you don't have to stay stuck in your past. Your past is past, and it's never too late to start over. Second, God's purpose for your life is greater than any problems you're going through. Third, the Bible really changes people. And finally, the fourth truth is that God has the power to help you over any addiction."
Author, The Purpose Driven Life
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