Beverly Parker-Smith (’80) will be best remembered by her NGC classmates as the young lady who carried around Grover (Sesame Street character) during her time here. With a special gift and talent to make a puppet or stuffed animal come alive, she was often called upon to visit North Greenville College.
She relates that she fought desperately the call of God to go into full time evangelism. After graduation from Carson-Newman College, she traveled with a team of college students appointed by the evangelism Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. They traveled from church to church leading in revivals and worship services. Dr. Bill Mackey of the Evangelism Office saw the potential in Beverly and encouraged her to go into full-time evangelism work.
After graduation from Carson-Newman and her summer evangelism work, she took a job at North Greenville College as an Admissions Counselor. She said that while she enjoyed her work at the college, she was certain that God had other plans for her life. She felt God’s call but tried to ignore it until a friend at the college said to her, “If I were to quit my job, buy a van and sound equipment and be your manager, would you consent to go into full-time evangelism?” She responded, “Of course.” The friend countered, “If you will consent to do this with my help, why are your resisting God when he is offering you the same provision.”
Beverly relates that it was that night during soul searching prayer time that she was convicted to surrender to God’s call. She shared how she prayed for the knowledge and ability to use ventriloquism as part of her ministry. She awoke the next morning with the wisdom and knowledge that she could learn to be a ventriloquist.
After practicing in front of a mirror with a hand puppet that morning, she realized that she had the ability. She shares that she immediately called Bill Mackey at the South Carolina Baptist Convention office to tell him of her commitment, and he provided her with the first booking at a Greenville area revival he was leading. With no assurance of a steady income, she developed a strong faith in God’s ability to provide.
Now fourteen and a half years later, she is much in awe of the direction that her ministry has taken. She relates that 1997 was a very active year for her ministry with bookings in places like Des Moines, IA, for a Preschool Concert, Chicago, IL, for a children’s revival, and Nashville, TN, for the National Children’s Pastors Conference. She is so grateful for her husband, Tim, and the loving support of his parents who help to care for her seven-year-old son, Hunter, during her rigorous travel schedule.
Beverly and Tim met when she was doing a concert at Tim’s church. It was not until they traveled with a group on a mission trip to Venezuela that they fell in love and were later married.
She reminisces about her arrival on the NGC campus and how many at the college were instrumental in providing her with the necessary tools to undertake this ministry. She fondly remembers the uplifting relationship with Dr. Jimmy Epting, then vice president of student services.
She states, “Dr. Epting gave me a vital tool, self-esteem, and a strong belief in myself. When I came to North Greenville I did not possess either of these traits. I have a deep respect for Dr. Jimmy Epting and his ability to make every student feel that they are special.”
She also added that Veda Sprouse and her “thought for the day” was inspiring and had such a positive effect on her experience at NGC.
Of Edith Sayer, former NGC librarian, she commented, “Miss Sayer was librarian when my parents, Rev. Milton and Lena Hill Parker were students here. She was very special to me when I was a student, and has remained a dear friend and followed my ministry with a keen interest.”
She related that her drama instructor, Ben Robinson, believed in her ability and did not give up on her despite the fact that her first semester of work was not at an acceptable level. He was very stern and expected the best of every student. She stated, “I am thankful for his influence and guidance because without it I would surely have failed.”
Beverly developed an interest at four years old for working with puppets. She states that this interest at an early age was God’s way of intricately weaving a beautiful web to pull her life together and lead her into an area of service to Him. In a fit of anger her sister once threw Beverly’s prize possession, her teddy bear across the room and he hit the wall. She recalls how her sister refused to apologize to the bear for hurting him. You see, to Beverly, all of her animals were real as they came to life with the use of her masterful imagination. She relates how she and her sister recently reminisced about this experience as they watched Beverly’s son playing with the same teddy bear.
She resisted the path of children’s ministry thinking that ministering to adults should be the focus of her ministry. She now sees that because of difficult experiences that she had growing up of not always fitting in, she is better equipped to minister to the needs of children, and praises God for the opportunity to present His word to children.
Beverly Parker-Smith is a great ambassador for NGC and Jesus Christ. She has seized the talents that God gave her and through her uncomplicated message reached many children with her exciting and entertaining technique of relating God’s word.
Published in the April 1998 issue of the North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.