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At one point in her ordeal, Ashley says she read passages from The Purpose Driven Life by pastor Rick Warren aloud to Brian Nichols. Ashley has credited The Purpose Driven Life for helping her survive. Rick and Ashley have spoken before, but they'd never met face-to-face…until now.

"There are two great stories in Ashley's life," Rick says. "One of them is you don't have to be perfect to be used by God. If God only used perfect people, nothing would get done because none of us are perfect. God uses us in spite of our faults, our mistakes, our weaknesses. … The bottom line is God will use anybody if you're available. That's the key. She happened to be available and she responded in love instead of fear as we just heard in her story. I think the other thing is that no matter how bad your problems are, God's purpose is bigger. And we see this in her life, that God had a purpose that she didn't know, that was so much bigger than the problems she was going through, and even the problems Brian was going through."

Though Ashley says she told Nichols that she would visit him in prison, she now says it's unlikely that will happen. "I don't feel led to do that right now," she says. "I think that my purpose and my time with Brian Nichols was that seven hours."
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FROM: Held Hostage by the Accused Atlanta Spree Killer: How Ashley Smith Survived
Published on September 28, 2005

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