Amanda Berry Smith -- By: Vivian L. Hairston

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 37:0 (NA 2005)
Article: Amanda Berry Smith
Author: Vivian L. Hairston


Amanda Berry Smith

Vivian L. Hairston

Vivian L. Hairston (M.A.C.M., ATS), is a mathematics teacher at the DePaul Center for Young Mothers in Cleveland, OH.

Amanda Berry Smith was one of the most remarkable missionaries of the nineteenth century. Her dedication and unselfish service has impacted many people throughout the United States and other countries in the world. Even though she departed this life in 1915, she still lives on in the hearts of many because of her missionary efforts. The purpose of this paper is to briefly summarize her life, discuss her ministry, explain what motivated and sustained her ministry, and describe the principles and techniques that she utilized in her ministry.

Her Life

Amanda Berry was born a slave in Long Green, Maryland in 1835. Her parents, Samuel and Miriam Berry, lived on different plantations, even though they were married. Amanda was the oldest of their thirteen children.1 She was reared in a godly home. Her mother was an earnest Christian with strong faith in God. Her father read the Bible to his family and prayed over all their meals. Her grandmother, a woman of great faith, prayed mightily that her grandchildren would be freed from slavery.2

Her Childhood

As a child Amanda was protected from the disciplinary actions of her mother by her matron, Rachel Green. This woman would often treat Amanda with bread spread with sugar and honey. She treated Amanda like one of her own children. She would dress Amanda like the rest of her family in Quaker style clothing, and take her to their Presbyterian Church. As a result of Mrs. Green’s nurturing and protection, Amanda was not exposed to some of the harsh realities of slavery. It also began her close attachment to white people and unbending stand on racial equality.3

During her early childhood years, her father purchased his freedom from slavery, and later purchased the freedom of his wife and children. At age 15, Amanda received her freedom.4 Her father earned the money for his family’s freedom through hard and diligent work. His daytime hours were spent fulfilling his daily obligations to his mistress. Afterwards, he would harvest fields until the early hours of the morning.5 Since freedom was very important to her father, he allowed his family’s home in Shrewsburg, Pennsylvania to be used as a hiding place for runaway slaves. None of the slaves that were hid in his home were ever captured and returned to their masters.

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