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Faith Foreign Affairs

American Teacher Murdered in Benghazi

An American teacher from Austin, Texas was killed yesterday in Benghazi while out for his morning run. Ronnie Smith and his family were Christians who had moved to Benghazi to make an impact for Christ on the lives of the people there. His family had already returned to the States in preparation for the Christmas holiday, but Ronnie had chosen to stay behind to help his students through their midterm examinations.

His church in Austin could use the prayers and support of their brothers and sisters in Christ and their fellow Americans at this time.

It is with a very heavy heart that we write to you today about the loss of our dear brother Ronnie Smith. Ronnie was shot and killed in Benghazi while going for a morning jog. We don’t fully understand the motives of his attackers. He had been teaching chemistry at the International School Benghazi in Libya for the last year and a half.

Before moving to Benghazi, Ronnie was a member of the church staff at the Austin Stone. Ronnie, his wife Anita, and his son are dearly loved by our church family; many of us knew Ronnie and his family well. Ronnie and his family were planning to spend time before Christmas with us here in Austin. Anita and their son had returned to the U.S. and are safe with family. Ronnie, out of a sense of dedication, had stayed in Libya to be with his students through their midterm exams.

Ronnie Smith BenghaziRonnie and his family moved to Benghazi to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people. Ronnie loved Libya and was dedicated to his students to help them aspire to their dreams. Ronnie’s greatest desire was for peace and prosperity in Libya and for the people of Libya to have the joy of knowing God through Christ.

Ronnie was a brother in Christ and a faithful servant of this church for many years. Although we grieve because we have lost a friend, a husband, and a father, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has a greater purpose than we can imagine right now. Though we don’t fully understand right now, we place our full trust in the one who does until we see our friend again.

The people who knew Ronnie Smith and his family in Libya are saddened by his passing and had nothing but kind words for the man who travelled halfway around the world to teach Chemistry.

“He was the most amazing person, more like a best friend or a family member,” said student Yomna Zentani, 18. “After everything that happened in Libya, we were losing hope and he was the only one who was supporting us, motivating us, telling us that as long as we studied everything would be okay. He was the silver lining. He dedicated so much of his time for all his students,” she added. “He chose to come here and help us and risk his life.

Student Lujain Beruwien, 16, said Smith had helped her get settled in Benghazi when her Libyan parents moved back from Scotland. “Because I’m from the U.K. and he’s from America we were always trying to outdo each other,” she said. “It’s really upsetting that he has died. The majority of Libyans want the country to develop but the others are just trying to ruin things for everyone. We’re not going to stand for this.”

The prayers and thoughts of the Eagle Rising family go out to the family, friends and loved ones of Ronnie Smith. We hope that his church and his family feel the love, comfort and grace of our God in these difficult days.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Romulus Marketing. He’s also the managing editor at, and the managing partner at You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children.

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