Oliver Smith - Iowa Preacher



Oliver Smith was an ordinary man who used his talents in an extraordinary manner for God. Without doubt, he was one of the greatest soul winners the twentieth century has seen. He was born in Iowa, labored in Iowa, and died in Iowa. He often quoted the Shunammite woman; "I dwell among mine own people" (2 Kings 4:13).

We are too young to have known Oliver personally, yet he has had an indirect effect upon our lives. Those he conveyed the gospel to have conveyed it to us, and we have listened with interest to fond recollections of his life. Scarcely an all-day meeting or Bible Conference in Iowa has passed without some reference to Oliver being made. But this is beginning to change.

Believers, with a first hand knowledge of his work, are going home to heaven, and their recollections are being lost. Even as this book was being finalized, some important contributors passed on.

We have drawn information from as many sources as possible and carefully compiled it to achieve a clear and authentic portrait of Oliver's life. His personal diaries were a tremendous help. Our chief objective throughout this project has been to record the work of God in Iowa through a man called Oliver Smith. To achieve this goal, we omitted names and personal references which we felt would detract from the book and limit the scope of its readership. This book is a highlight of his life and we ask the reader to forbear with any omissions which may have occurred.

One other thing should be noted. We are well aware that Oliver would never have encouraged the writing of this book. Like other humble servants of God, he made little of himself and much of the Lord Jesus Christ. "I haven't planted any assemblies," he once said, "but God has planted several." Yet, who among us has not been helped and encouraged by the written accounts of individuals, who spent their lives in service for the Lord? What an example and inspiration they have been to us who remain! Well might we "remember them, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow" (Heb. 13:7). May this book bring honor to God and cause each of us to take advantage of opportunities for gospel work. We shall not pass this way again.

Steve Walvatne and Dave Reiss
September, 1994

A number of individuals have rendered valuable assistance in the preparation of this book. Without them it would not have been completed.

Clifford and LaVelle Smith (Oliver's son-in-law and daughter), along with Richard and Nancy Orr (Oliver's granddaughter), were gracious supporters of the work. From them we received much vital information including Oliver's personal diaries, pictures, and letters. Even when our brother Clifford was suddenly called home to heaven, LaVelle continued to aid in the effort.
Paul Elliott and Leonard DeBuhr related many interesting experiences as fellow laborers with Oliver in the gospel. Harold Paisley and Leonard DeBuhr each submitted a foreword, and Eric McCullough gave the book a finishing touch with the epilogue. The late G. Albert Ramsay shared many rich memories and supported our effort with enthusiasm. Val Brandt, the son of the late Louis Brandt, gave us abundant information.

Others who helped include Duane Peck, who was a co-worker throughout the project and spent many long hours typing the manuscript and compiling information. Annette Stark proofread the various drafts and CF. Foster gave the book its cover design and title.
Many more, too numerous to mention, contributed fond recollections and helpful suggestions. We are in their debt and extend to them our deepest appreciation.