This month I returned to the other project I had worked at last July, Casa Esperança (House of Hope) in the Buraco Quente favela to help with the reading week they held. It was nice to see some of the kids from the previous reading week, and they remembered me too!
At the end of the week, they were eligible for prizes based on how many points they had earned by how many books they had read.
What a little reading can lead to . . .
This day (January 28) in World Evangelism History
On this day in 1906, Oswald J. Smith, who would become a powerful missions advocate and spokesman, was converted at an R.A. Torrey crusade in Toronto, Canada.
A sickly teenager, the doctors did not think that Smith would live to manhood. He didn’t do much physical work and walk only short distances. Because Smith didn’t do much outside, he learned to read, a lot. And he grew to love it, especially reading the newspaper. As he read, he continually saw articles about Torrey and his crusades. The fact that so many went to hear the man intrigued the young teen. When he found out that a crusade was being held only ninety miles from his house, he knew he had to go find out what this man said that everyone found so important. So he set out on a train with his brother to hear this famous preacher.
At the meeting, Torrey preached out of Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” The words pierced the heart of young Smith and he struggled within himself. But he record what happened next:
“Then suddenly, it happened. I cannot explain it even today. I just bowed my head, put my face between my hands and in a moment tears gushed through my fingers, and fell upon the chair, and there stole into my boyish heart a realization of the fact that the great change had taken place. Christ had entered and I was a new creature. I had been born again. There was no excitement, no unusual feeling, but I knew that something had happened, and that ever after all life would be different. That was January 28th, 1906, when I was 16 years of age, and it has lasted to this day. Yes, and it is going to last, praise God, throughout the countless ages of eternity.”
Oswald J. Smith never got over what Jesus did for him that day! And this amazement at his salvation would drive Smith to become one of the greatest missionary advocates and supporters of his day. Over the next eighty years, he preached more than 12,000 sermons in 80 countries, wrote thirty-five books (with translations into 128 languages), as well as 1,200 poems, of which 100 have been set to music. He raised over $14 million dollars for missionary work. He founded the Peoples Church in Toronto. He was the major advocate for the faith promise offering, sharing the idea in hundreds of churches. And all of this grew out of what God did in the heart of a sixteen year old boy at a crowded conference hall. In a testimonial song he wrote, Smith says:
Saved! Saved! Saved! Oh, joy beyond compare!
Christ my life, and I His constant care;
Yielding all and trusting Him alone,
Living now each moment as his own.