23 February, 2016

The Gipsy Evangelist And A Peculiar Rain Coincidence In Portland

Rain storm

I had never heard of Rodney 'Gypsy' Smith (1860 – 1947) previously, but then I saw him mentioned twice in one day. He was an evangelist, born in England, who conducted evangelistic campaigns in the United States and Great Britain for over 70 years.

I came across a newspaper cutting from 1911 about Gipsy headed Peculiar Coincidence at Great Meeting in Portland. This is the story:

Rodney Gypsy Smith
Portland, Nov 13 - When a violent storm made the sound of his own voice almost inaudible to the crown that packed the Gypsy Smith tabernacle yesterday afternoon, the evangelist made a direct appeal to the Almighty for peace.

In less than two minutes the noise of the falling rain on the roof had ceased. Even the howling of the wind seemed to have stilled. Gypsy Smith said that he was awed by what seemed like an immediate answer to a request that was almost a command.

"Lord, this is thy meeting," the exhorter prayed. "This is thy meeting and not mine. The rain thou has sent makes it impossible for those in the back of this great building to hear. For this reason many are leaving us. Lord, this is thy message and you've got to see they hear it."

Arms were stretched to their topmost limits of reach. The evangelist waited, then started his address. Before he said a dozen sentences, the rain, which up to that time had been continuous since the beginning of the meeting, stopped, and amid a dramatic stillness the Gypsy told the message that he had come from England to Portland to deliver.

"I want to give glory to God," was his comment.

Gypsy Smith Story in Brief:

Gypsy Smith when young
Smith was born in a Romani bender tent in Epping Forest, six miles north-east of London, England Today the site is marked with a large, commemorative stone in the woods near Waterworks Corner, Woodford Green. Smith received no education, and his family made a living selling baskets, tinware, and clothes-pegs.

At 16 he taught himself to read and write and began to practice preaching. He would sing hymns to the people he met and was known as the singing gypsy boy.

From these beginnings, he travelled extensively around the world on evangelistic crusades, drawing crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands throughout his life.

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