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From Fear to Faith

Tom McClanahan brings you the story of two men who's lives almost came to an end when they met but developed into a lasting friendship
This story started more than forty years ago when one of the two men tried to kill the other.

And for a harrowing moment, the other wanted to return fire. 
      
Tonight you'll see how faith transformed that fear.

Our story began on a warm June night back in 1973 at a small grocery store that sat right here on this corner in a Linton neighborhood. That's where the odyssey of Jim Hibbard and Dick Smith began.
   
Hibbard, under the influence of drugs and alcohol robbed the store and fired a shot in the process.

He says, "The last clear memory I have is walking into that IGA to buy a pack of cigarettes, why the things transpired then I have no idea."
   
Jim left the scene when Dick Smith, a Linton city policeman at the time, answered the call.  He began scouring the area and then the city of Linton for the suspect.  A state police detective was with him when he got a break from Jasonville city officer Harry Bedwell.

Dick says, "Harry called and said that vehicle just passed me north of Midland."

The pursuit continued until Smith spotted Hibbard's van on the Queen Four road south of Jasonville. They recently joined me at that spot. Neither had been there since.

Dick remembers, "The man was already out of his van and as I stepped and got clear of the car, he fired at me."

In pretrial testimony, Jim was told he fired twice that night.  He adds, "There was an expended shell in the chamber and there was another one, the firing pin had indented the primer but the shell didn't go off."  Dick says, "That was the one for me." Jim continues, "So without realizing it I had tried to shoot Dick. I hated this man."

Dick recollects, "I had full intentions to take his life that night but God had a greater plan."

Jim spent three years of a long term in prison and thought about revenge against the police officers who had caught him.

He says, "There was three men that I seriously thought about murderin' when I got out and he was one of 'em."

And dick knew that, being cautious about seeing Jim when Hibbard was released from prison until one night when Dick's band was playing at a revival.

Dick recalls, "And when he walked through the door, fear gripped me.  I'm in church, I was a child of the King, fear gripped me because my handgun was in the car and he was sittin' in the back row of the church."

But it wasn't a motivation to get even that drove Jim that night, rather a powerful spiritual experience.

He confesses, "I could not stop, just like a magnet pulling steel. I went down that center aisle, fighting it physically as hard as I could and finally I went down on my face in the center aisle. There were preachers all over me and I came out of there a different individual. I came out of there instead of wanting to shoot this man I came out of there with a love for this man I didn't understand." Tom says to Dick, "And how did you react to that, Dick?"  Dick says, "I was one of the preachers."

The men became friends, then good friends and then a relationship of total trust.

Each man now preaches, Dick in the Shiloh Assembly of God near Coalmont and Jim at a small church in Sullivan.

A long way from that county road near Jasonville over forty years ago when one or both might have died.

Dick concludes, "We both had a weapon of choice but today this (the Bible) is our weapon of choice."

Tom says Dick is so trustworthy of Jim that he's asked Jim to fill in for him in his church when he's not even there.

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