Back to main magazine page now!!
The Smith brothers were all musical, and after becoming Christians, they
formed an evangelistic team and sang and preached all over the country.
William Booth, founder of The Christian Movement that later became The
Salvation Army, was a great encouragement to the Smith Evangelistic Team.
Cornelius’s five children saw the change that salvation had brought
to their father’s life and they all accepted Christ as their Savior. Gipsy
was converted at the age of 16. He could not read or write, but after his
conversion, he had a great desire to learn. His first books were the Bible, an
English dictionary, and Professor Eadie’s Biblical Dictionary. His brothers
and sisters laughed at him because he did not know how to read them, but
he carried them under his arm everywhere he went. It did not bother him
that they laughed. He just said, “I am going to read them someday, and I
am going to preach too.” 8
G ipsy taught himself to read and write, and he did preach. He preached
his first sermons to the turnips in the turnip fields. While he was out
selling his wares, he looked for opportunities to share the Gospel. He was
on good terms with the women in the village. Sometimes quite a number of
them would gather in a neighbor’s kitchen, and he would sing and preach
to them. Soon, he was known as the “singing Gypsy boy.” As his reading
skills improved, he memorized great portions of the Scripture.
When he was only 17 years old, William Booth invited him to be an
evangelist with his Christian Mission and he joyfully accepted the
invitation. Gipsy looked at his Gypsy clothes and decided that since he was
going to be a preacher, he should look like one. He went out and bought
a frock coat, a vest, and a pair of striped trousers. He commented, “I will
not say that I felt comfortable in these clothes because, the reverse was the
truth. I felt as if I had been dipped in starch and hung up to dry by the
hair of my head.” 9 Gipsy traveled to the mission headquarters in London
and one of the missionaries met him and took him to the Langston home
where Mr. Booth had arranged for him to stay. He arrived in time for the
evening meal and for the first time in his life, he had to sit at the table and
use a knife and fork, but he was humble enough to admit his limitations
to his hosts and asked for their help in learning. Gipsy Smith was the 36th
missionary with the Christian Mission.
There are five Gospels:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
and the Christian. Most people
will never read the first four.
- Rodney “Gipsey” Smith
The Christian Mission was reorganized
as the Salvation Army. Although Gipsy
did not feel comfortable with the Army,
he remained a part of it until he was
dismissed after five years of service. In
recognition of their ministry among
them, in a public gathering, some
kind-hearted friends presented Gipsy
with a gold watch and Annie with a
five-pound gift of money.
ipsy and Annie accepted the gifts,
and for this, they were dismissed
because the Salvation Army had rules
against accepting gifts. Gipsy felt that
he was treated unfairly, but still he had
words of praise and thankfulness for
Mr. Booth who had given him his first
opportunity to serve as an evangelist.
Gipsy married Annie Pennock, who was one of his converts, on December
17, 1879. Gipsy described Annie as a beautiful, unselfish Christian to
whom he owed much of his success in the ministry. Annie died at the age
of 79 while Gipsy was preaching in America.
Gipsy Smith became one of the greatest
evangelists of all times. He traveled
around the world, singing and preaching
the Gospel. He preached to hundreds of
thousands of people during his lifetime.
He never preached a Gospel meeting
e took part in meetings and did visitation. His reading abilities were
limited and if he had any leisure time, he used it to improve his
reading. He spoke in outdoor meetings and sometimes in indoor meetings.
Promoted as “Rodney Smith the Converted Gypsy Boy,” he spoke to large
congregations and never had a meeting without conversions.