Amanda Beery Smith (1837-1915), was born in January of 1837 to former slaves Samuel & Mariam Smith. Her parents, both believers, raised her as a Christian. Though she had very little formal education, her parents taught her how to read and write by the time she was eight years old.
Her mother was a fervent intercessor who focused her efforts on her mistress, daily praying for her salvation. In time, with consistent prayer, God's grace broke in and her 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, Miss Smith became dangerously ill and doctors predicted that she would not live. However, in the midst of this sickness she received a vision from God where she saw herself preaching and teaching before large crowds. When she recovered 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.
After about a year, she was dissatisfied with her life in God. She had approached the altar in ministry time at church, but still did not feel that she had been truly saved. Being touched with the fear of the Lord, she began zealously praying that the Lord would either convert her or strike her dead. During this time of prayer she experienced in her heart a manifestation of the joy of salvation. She said of this experience, “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.”
Her conversion gave her a desire both to pray and to fast, and she regularly prayed during her times of work. In an unprecedented way God opened up doors for her to preach, especially 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, during an era when many blacks were not allowed to speak in church or address white people as equals, yet she was given supernatural favor to preach in contexts with white believers.
Amanda Beery Smith stands as a witness to us of the power of God to raise up teachers from the most unlikely places. She reminds us that the 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.