“Work hard at whatever you do,” says Ecclesiastes 9:10.

Perhaps no one worked harder than Amanda Smith, a trait learned from her father. Amanda was born into slavery in Maryland on January 23, 1837. Her father, Samuel Berry, worked tirelessly to free his children. He made brooms by day, walked miles to work in the fields until one or two o’clock in the morning. He slept for an hour or two; then he was up again. Thus 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 labored in the kitchen, earning a reputation for Maryland biscuits and fried chicken. She also became known as the area’s best scrubwoman. When her sister Frances accidentally destroyed her freedom papers, Amanda worked hard to repurchase them. She often stood at her washtub for 12 hours, then worked for hours at her ironing board. Overcome by fatigue, she would lean her head on the window ledge and sleep a few moments till the need passed.

She somehow found time for witnessing, and her power as an evangelist gained notice. She began accepting invitations and was soon in demand as a Methodist holiness evangelist. She evangelized as far south as Knoxville and as far west as Austin. She traveled alone by train and with simplicity, her belongings rolled in a carpetbag. Her fame leaped the Atlantic, and she was called to England for meetings, then to India, then to Africa. She organized women’s bands, young people’s groups, temperance societies, children’s meetings. She adopted homeless youngsters and started an orphanage near Chicago.

She was called God’s image carved in ebony. Though never ordained, she 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, ‘Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you might go and bring forth fruit.’

Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself, not just your earthly master. In fact, the Lord Christ is the one you are really serving, and you know that he will reward you. (Colossians 3:23,24)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Jan. 23.

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