Amanda Beery Smith

Amanda Beery Smith (1837–1915) was born in January 1837 to former slaves Samuel and Mariam Smith, both believers who raised her to know the Lord. Though she had very limited formal education, her parents taught her to read and write by the time she was eight years old.

Her mother was a fervent intercessor who daily focused her efforts on her mistress—praying for her salvation—which soon bore fruit as God’s grace broke in and the mistress was saved. It was into this prayerful environment that Amanda Beery Smith was raised, daily witnessing the power of embracing humility and a lifestyle of fervent prayer.

When she was eighteen, Amanda became dangerously ill and she was told that she was going to die. In the midst of this sickness she received a vision from God of herself, preaching and teaching in front of large crowds. When she recovered from the illness doctors had said was going to kill her, she began to ponder the meaning of this vision and believed that the Lord had spared her—but she did not yet know what to do about the vision she had received.

Approximately a year later, Amanda was feeling dissatisfied with her life in God. She had gone forward during ministry time at church, but felt that she had not been truly saved.

Filled with the fear of the Lord, she began crying out to the Lord, asking Him to either convert her or strike her dead. During this time, she was impacted for the first time by the joy of salvation. Talking about this experience, she said, “I sprang to my feet, all around was light and I was new….something wonderful had taken place inside of me, and it really seemed to me it was outside [of me] too.”1

After this encounter, she was consumed by a new desire to fast and pray. God opened up many doors for her to preach—notably on the holiness of God—in America, England, India, Africa, and elsewhere throughout the world. Amanda Beery Smith ministered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In an era in which many black people were not even allowed to speak in church or address white people as equals, she was given supernatural favor to preach to white believers as a black woman.

Amanda Beery Smith’s life bears witness to the power of God to raise up teachers from the most unlikely places. She reminds us that a lifestyle of prayer, fasting, and pursuing holiness is available to all believers and is the primary thing that equips us for a life in public ministry. Her perseverance and humility remind us all to be courageous in spite of our personal trials and to trust wholly in God’s ability to establish us.

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1. Amanda Smith, An Autobiography. The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith (Chicago: Meyer & Brother Publishers, 1893), 103.

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