Healing and Revival


 

"Healed to Evangelize"

 

Jennie Smith was born August 18, 1842 in Vienna, Clark County, Ohio. Smith was the eldest of nine children. Her mother's parents also lived with the family. In 1846 her family was struck and her grandfather and sister died of pneumonia (referred to as lung fever). She attended Presbyterian and Methodist meetings in her area as a child and came under conviction to know God. In 1855 her younger brother died and her hunger increased. In 1856 she attended a Methodist camp meeting where she made a firm commitment to Christ.

In 1857 Smith's father's health and business failed. In attempt to help her family Jennie helped bring in a load of hay and got a severe back injury. Within days she came down with Typhoid fever. He damaged spine worsened and she could no longer even get out of bed for the next six months. Her father's health continued to fail and at one point he attempted suicide. Coming under conviction he gave his life to Christ and died within three months. Unfortunately upon his death the family was left destitute and all their belongings had to be sold to live. Smith recovered her health to a degree, but within a few months collapsed once more becoming an invalid for the next 18 months. The next several years were a repeat of improvement and collapse. She regularly had seizures and her eyesight became very bad. In 1862 Smith collapsed once more and came close to death. She had a sense of heaven but felt called upon to bring others into the kingdom. During these years Smith an avid reader of Holiness and religious books, including Asa Mahan's "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". She attended several camp meetings where she described being overwhelmed by the power of the Spirit.

In 1872 Smith attended a "Higher Christian Life" meeting led by William and Mary Boardman. Lucy Drake, who had been healed under the ministry of Charles Cullis, also spoke. There is no record that Smith receiving healing prayer, although she was impacted by Lucy Drake's testimony. She said later in her life that Drake visited her and gave her books to read. Smith felt called to begin writing the story of her life and God's providence in taking care of her. She began journaling what would eventually turn into her first book. In the spring of 1873 God began to put it on people's hearts that she should be healed. She attended a prayer meeting where several women prayed for her. She did not receive total healing but her seizures improved from that time on. In 1875 Smith was prayed for again and saw some improvement in her health and significant improvement in her eyesight. In 1876 "Valley of Baca" was published. The Valley of Baca was a biblical reference meaning a place of drought, weeping, or suffering. Although her aim was the testimony of God's remarkable provision and care, the book included long descriptions of her ill health, and the ill health of her family.

After the publication of Smith's book she began to travel to conventions and meetings to sell it. She also began to testify of God's care at these meetings. Smith still could not get out of bed, but had a cot on wheels in which she was moved from one location to the next. Again she began to feel a pull to evangelistic service and used her opportunities to speak to present the gospel. Smith attended a camp meeting in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Faith was stirring in Smith for her own healing. Several people came to her and also said they had been moved to pray for her healing.

Smith felt the presence of God one night as she was giving the gospel to a visitor. She was able to hold up her head for the first time in sixteen years! She felt led to bring a group of people around her to pray one evening. She also sent several letters to friends who could be counted on to pray during the same time, including Dr. Charles Cullis. On March 29, 1878 during the time of prayer the power of God came upon her. She saw a vision of Jesus healing the man with the withered arm and she knew God was going to heal her as well. She raised herself up on her arms and then put her feet on the ground and began to walk. Her body, which had been in pain for 21 years, was instantly healed.

Smith's life became a new testimony to the goodness of God. She wrote a second book and titled it "From Baca to Beulah" which was published in 1880. Beulah was a biblical reference from Isaiah meaning "married" or "restored to God's blessing". Once healed she went to Ocean Grove, New Jersey again and spent the summer attending and speaking at Holiness meetings. She frequently was called to minister to the lost and the dying. She began to receive some criticism over her healing, which was difficult for her to understand, as it was clearly a miraculous work of God.

Smith went on to become involved in the Women's Temperance Christian Union (WCTU) an organization closely associated with Holiness organizations. Due to her years of being carried in baggage cars on railroads Jennie had relationships with many railroad employees. She felt her particular mission was to travel on the railroads and give meetings and her testimony along the routes. She was appointed the National Superintendent of the Railroad department of the WCTU. She went on to write books about her experiences titled "Ramblings in Beulah Land" volumes 1 and 2, which were published in 1881 and 1882. Late in her life Smith wrote one last book titled "Incidents and Experiences of a Railroad Evangelist", which was published in 1920. She continued her ministry and died on September 3, 1924 at the age of 82.

Smith was not specifically a "healing evangelist". Once she was healed she spent her life traveling the railroads and giving the gospel and temperance messages. She led thousands of people to Christ in her ministry. Still wherever she went she spoke of the healing power of God and often prayed with the sick. She said that it would lead people into revival when they had the deeper experiences in God such as healing. She was a friend of Carrie Judd Montgomery, Lucy Drake Osborn, Mrs. Beck, and Mary Mossman, all women who ran healing homes and had a significant impact in the healing movement of the 1880s to 1920s. She attended Christian Alliance Meetings. Smith believed and communicated the message that God wanted to save, but He was also willing to heal. Her books were sold throughout the United States and her message opened people's hearts to God's healing works.

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