Oswald J. Smith, founder of The Peoples Church in Toronto, Canada, died January 25 at the age of 96. Smith was a well-known international spokesman for world evangelization.

“Why should anyone hear the gospel twice before everyone has heard it once?” he challenged Christians at missionary conferences. Smith founded The Peoples Church in 1928. Since that time, the congregation has given more than $23 million to world missions. Smith’s son Paul succeeded him as pastor in 1959.

Smith conducted numerous evangelistic campaigns from 1920 to 1950, including a major outreach to Latvia. He also evangelized Russian immigrants in Europe who had fled their homeland following the 1917 revolution.

He authored some 35 books and booklets, which have been translated into 128 languages. He also wrote some 1,200 hymns, poems, and gospel songs.

A staunch evangelical, Smith appeared regularly on conference platforms with leading fundamentalists, and he invited fundamentalists to speak in his church. However, he refused to become embroiled in evangelical/fundamentalist controversies.

A graduate of Toronto Bible College and Chicago’s McCormick Theological Seminary, Smith received several honorary degrees in recognition of his ministry. Evangelist Billy Graham, who spoke at Smith’s funeral, once described him as “the greatest combination pastor, missionary statesman, hymn writer, and evangelist of our time.”

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