Ecclesiastes chapter 9 verse 10 says “Work hard at whatever you do” and the person featured in this post was perhaps the hardest working woman of her time. Amanda Smith was born into slavery in Maryland on January 23rd 1837 and her father, Samuel Berry worked tirelessly to free his children.
Samuel made brooms by day then walked miles to work in the fields until one or two o’clock in the morning. Then he slept for an hour or two before getting up again to begin another working day. In this way, he eventually purchased freedom for every member of his family.
Amanda grew up committed to Christ. Her mother and grandmother were full of faith and the Methodist revivals sweeping the area profoundly affected her. She laboured in the kitchen, earning a reputation for Maryland biscuits and fried chicken and also became known as the area’s best scrubwoman. While working, she would stand at her washtub for twelve hours, then work for hours at the ironing board. When she was overcome by fatigue, she would lean her head on the window sill and sleep for only a few moments at a time.
Somehow, she found time for witnessing and her power as an evangelist was noticed. She began accepting invitations and was soon in demand as a Methodist holiness evangelist. She evangelised as far south as Knoxville and as far west as Austin, travelling alone by train with her belongings rolled in a carpetbag. Her fame quickly leapt the Atlantic and she was called to England for meetings and then to India and Africa. Amanda organised women’s bands, young people’s groups, temperance societies and children’s meetings. She also adopted homeless youngsters and even started an orphanage near Chicago. She was called God’s image, carved in ebony.
Though never ordained, Amanda brought many to Christ through her preaching. She said “The thought of ordination never entered my mind, for I had received my ordination from him who said ‘You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that you might go and bring forth fruit.’”