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City official says Christ is Lord in public, personal life

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–She’s a wife, mother, busy businesswoman, successful public servant and president of the Jacksonville City Council. Most importantly, Ginger Soud is a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart.

That commitment to Christ led to Soud’s being asked to chair the executive committee of the Jacksonville, Fla. Billy Graham Crusade. The event is set for Nov. 2-5 at Alltel Stadium.

“When I was approached and asked to pray about considering this position, I was speechless,” Soud recounted. “The thought of being asked to chair the crusade was absolutely overwhelming and thrilling. To be given this opportunity has been the single greatest honor of my life.”

As excited as she felt, Soud still spent much time in personal prayer, seeking God’s will before making a decision. She also talked and prayed with her family: the Honorable Judge A.C. Soud Jr. and three adult sons — Jeff, John and Adrian — about the possibility.

She recognized that accepting the volunteer position to help organize events in preparation for the crusade would greatly impact her family, and that she would need to have their full moral and spiritual support to fulfill her responsibilities.

After prayerful consideration she accepted the assignment, and in that process, she and her family made recommitments to the Lord and His work.

Considering her family before committing to a task is not new to Ginger Soud. While raising her three boys, the energetic entrepreneur chose a career in real estate so she could have the flexibility needed to keep her priorities focused.

She now can say with confidence that all three of her children know Christ as their personal Savior. Jeff and Adrian are successful attorneys and John, a physician, is completing his residency in emergency medicine.

In 1993, after all three sons were successfully launched, Soud started a real estate business of her own. The next year she became the first woman ever elected to an at-large position on the Jacksonville City Council. She was re-elected in 1995 and 1999, and became president of the council last year.

She also chairs Jacksonville’s “Character Counts” steering committee and is a prime mover in promoting the campaign, which stresses basic values.

Like any decisive leader, Ginger has been through difficult times. But she still finds joy in public service.

“The best part of serving in this arena is being able to help someone,” she said. “Often you’ll do something to assist a person and it will seem like such a small thing to you. Then you’ll find that it was a big deal for the person seeking help.

“For the most part, I find that people are very grateful for a public official’s time and effort,” she affirmed. “That is truly the best part of public service.”

Other aspects of serving in the political arena can be less enjoyable, but the tasks are equally important.

“A leader is called upon to make difficult decisions. It’s a process,” she said. “You never want to compromise the truth. Sometimes you make mistakes, but you have to have convictions and simply make the best decisions you can with all the information you have on hand at the time.”

She went on to say that second-guessing yourself or doing the things you do for personal gain is not helpful.

“I constantly ask God for strength and guidance to keep my motives pure,” she said.

Soud has been seeking the Lord’s guidance ever since she accepted Christ as her personal Savior at age 12, while living in Georgia.

“I had a very real conversion experience,” she said. “I never doubted the reality of my relationship with Christ after praying to invite Him into my life.”

She related that she was fortunate to have been raised by godly grandparents after her mother and father died.

“My grandmother and grandfather were committed Christian people who made a tremendous impact on my spiritual life.”

When Ginger was 17, she moved back to Jacksonville where she had been born, and joined First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Homer Lindsey Sr. was pastor at the time, and like her grandparents, Dr. Lindsey made a tremendous impact on Ginger’s life.

Another man who would greatly impact her life was a dynamic young lawyer named A.C. Soud. Ginger met him while working in a legal office.

“The timing was perfect,” she recounted with a laugh. “He was just finishing law school.”

That “perfect timing” soon led to a wedding. In the years that followed, the Souds were actively involved at First Baptist. Ginger taught an adult women’s Sunday School class for many years.

The Souds’ pastor, Jerry Vines, has known the couple more than 20 years. He described Ginger and A.C. as “very loving, kind, thoughtful people.”

Bill Beaton, a longtime acquaintance and head of a local benevolent ministry, also had words of commendation for Soud, calling her “a lovely lady who’s a real asset to the city council.”

“She’s hard-working, dedicated and always pours her heart into whatever she gets involved in,” Beaton said.

Like many other Jacksonville residents who are involved in preparations for the November crusade, Ginger Soud has long admired evangelist Billy Graham. She said she greatly respects the way he has continued to preach the clear, simple message of Christ and the way he has conducted himself and kept his personal life above reproach.

“I also admire the way Dr. Graham’s evangelistic association has handled the business side of their organization in an open, honest, and accountable way,” she commented. “I believe the association has conducted its business in a manner that’s been a tribute to the Christian community.”

As Soud juggles all her responsibilities, she longs to remain a consistent example of Christ and finds that taking some “down time” helps recharge her batteries.

“I often sit alone in my home in front of the fireplace,” she said. “Sometimes I read the Bible. Sometimes I don’t, but as I pray and think about the Lord, He restores and helps me.”

Soud said she has gained great inspiration from people and circumstances in the Scriptures.

“Paul, David, Esther, Daniel — they’re all examples of faithful followers who honored the Lord. Their lives have challenged me to do the same,” she said.

Like the biblical characters she admires, Soud sometimes has to deal with people she doesn’t fully agree with. Relying on the Lord’s help, she seeks to treat every individual with respect.

“I know God has given me a genuine love for others,” she said. “I believe it’s important to accept people the way God created them. When you realize that the part of a person you’re dealing with isn’t the total individual, it helps. As I look at people, I try to remember that they are also a dad or mom, a spouse, sibling or a child of someone. Seeing others the way God may view them makes it easy to treat others respectfully.”

As she chairs the executive committee for the Graham crusade, Soud no doubt will continually seek to view the people of Jacksonville through God’s eyes.

She shared, “My heart’s hope for this crusade is that every single person in this entire city will have an opportunity to hear the simple Gospel of Christ and come to see how He loves them.”

    About the Author

  • Rhonda Reese