By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
From jail to church, music's been the one constant in his life.
'And that's because of God,' said Todd Smith of Temple. 'He's the one who put the music in me.'
That realization didn't come easy.
Smith had to endure a 20-year addiction to cocaine 'before things started making sense.'
'I'm doing what I'm supposed to now,' Smith said.
Known in the community as GODINTODD, Smith shares God's Word through rap music.
'I probably do 30 shows a year,' he said. 'Most are around here in Temple and Belton, but within the last couple of months, I've been driving as far as Dallas to perform.'
He's got about a dozen titles to his credit, some on a new CD called 'True Grind.'
The song 'Come as you is' says looks and lifestyles don't matter when it comes to church. 'Come to the church just as you are,' Smith said. 'That's the message. Don't think that you need to clean up, sober up or hide your sins. God will take those things. He's the only one that can help.'
And He's the only reason to work hard, Smith says in his song 'True Grind.'
'Grind for the one that died for you,' Smith says. 'Not a girlfriend, job or drug.'
The lyrics of these songs are original, but the music is borrowed from other rap songs.
'Writing songs is my gift, not composing,' Smith said. 'Using popular music, that helps catch attention, especially from people who would not otherwise want to listen.'
Smith has 'rapped on street corners' all his life, but he didn't start writing Christian lyrics until 2005 at 32 years of age.
'God was working on my heart to change my life,' Smith said.
Until then, his life in Florida was about street living, drugs, alcohol and jail time.
'I was raised by a nice family, and I grew up believing the gospel,' Smith said. 'There was no loss of faith or traumatic incident. I just laid the Bible down at the age of 15 and thought I could do some marijuana and drink and then go right back to the Bible.'
But it didn't work that way.
Marijuana led way to cocaine and other drugs, and soon he was breaking the law.
'I was in and out of jail,' Smith said. 'Somehow I got spared from hard time.'
As a cocaine dealer, Smith said he ruined several people's lives.
'There was so much inner turmoil,' Smith said. 'I lost control.'
And then he started to lose his health. His chest hurt from his prolonged drug use, and he experienced a few cocaine-induced seizures.
'I was going to die, I know it,' Smith said.
So there was a metaphorical Stop sign.
'I could turn right and die,' Smith said. 'I could turn left and go to prison or I could go straight and go back the God I knew as a child.'
Smith went straight 'and embraced the Lord.'
In 2005, that decision brought him to Belton to undergo a faith-based drug rehabilitation program at Christian Farms Treehouse. (That facility now operates out of Temple.)
'I came there with nothing but the clothes I had on and a backpack,' Smith said.
But life in Bell County wasn't dismal.
He prayed, he participated in Bible studies and got involved at River Church in Belton.
'I met a lot of people,' Smith said. 'I learned that it didn't matter what your background was, who your parents were or how much money you had, everyone has an equal chance of getting off track.'
An example of that lesson is Tracy - the woman he married in 2007.
The two met during a worship service at River Church. She was battling her own drug addiction.
'I was on my way to prison,' Mrs. Smith said. 'I knew things had to change, and I knew God was calling me.'
Though her predicament was the same as her husband's, her story has more sadness.
'There was dysfunction in my family,' Mrs. Smith said. 'I grew up with abuse and pain.'
Addiction, she said, was a natural, sought-after way to escape, but, in the end, it only brought more misery.
That's why Smith thinks his ministry is meant to include his wife.
'We turned to drugs for different reasons,' Smith said. 'But we ended up at the same crossroads, having to die or surrender to God. He's the only one who can help.'
Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been clean for five years.
'And life is good,' Smith said. 'We just got through buying a house, and we've got two children we love.'
He works full-time at Scott & White in the communications department, and Mrs. Smith is a hairstylist.
Via J.A.I.L. Ministries, they volunteer every Thursday night at Killeen Juvenile Detention Center to lead Bible studies and serve as mentors. And they attend church weekly church services at Vista Community Church in Belton.
The rap music is a passion.
'It's something that's in my heart,' Smith said. 'It's God in me, sharing a message.'
It's not about launching a star-studded music career. He's not compelled to market himself or create a TODINGODD franchise.
'It's just that with the music I've got a pocket full of hope,' Smith said. 'And not a pocket full of dope.'
To learn more about Todd 'GODINTODD' Smith or his music, email GODINTODD@live.com or call 254-598-8422. He's got an online profile at www.myspace.com/godintoddmusic where CDs are available for $10. Proceeds benefit the traveling fund for his ministry.