Pastor Joseph Smale (1867- )
Born in England in 1867. He was trained under the prince of preachers in Spurgeon's College in London and stepped out into public ministry in this great city as a street preacher. He then pastored a church in Britain for three years after which time he resigned from this church and immigrated to the US, becoming pastor of a Baptist church in Prescott, Arizona. Then he moved to southern California where he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in January 1898.
From the start he preached regeneration by the Spirit and the necessity of having a new heart. He was more of an Evangelist than as a Pastor. At one point the great evangelist D.L. Moody ministered as a guest in this pulpit. In 1902 a group with leadership responsibilities within the church asked for his resignation, bringing accusations from the congregation against him of everything from being unfriendly to being a dictator. After much talk he dissolved their arguments and won them over.
After preaching a series on the eternal punishment of unbelievers and suffering a time of bad health he requested a sabbatical. During a long tour he returned to Britain for a visit. While in Britain he heard of the mighty Welsh Revival under the ministry of Evan Roberts;he was compelled to go see for himself.
He returned to his church in June 1905 on fire desiring to see the same visitation come to his church. His first message was "The Great Welsh Revival." They began to meet every day and night for meetings. The motto of all was "Pentecost has not yet come, but it is coming." Prayer and expectation marked these gatherings. Great conviction began to spread and people and preachers from various churches gathered in from across the city and elsewhere to hear the Word of the Lord and to meet with God. Smale seemed to prophesy to those gathered of things to come, of a "speedy return to the apostolic gifts of the church." Prayer not only ascended for this church but for the City, nation and for a world wide revival. These meetings were spontaneous almost running themselves. The whole congregation moved as one just as in the Welsh Revival, testimonies, praise and prayer came forth with great liberty. Many souls were being saved and the saints prepared for an outpouring. These meetings lasted for fifteen weeks bringing them to September.
The church officials could not stand this new emphasis on revival. They complained of too much noise, confusion and change. They wanted to return to how it was before. With the choice of stopping the revival or leaving, Smale gave in his resignation. The last words written by the clerk that night in the minutes was "May God have mercy on this church for rejecting His anointed." At this time Frank Bartleman went to talk to him feeling that the lord was maybe cutting him loose for the evangelistic field or to spread the fire in other places but Smale felt differently. Within two weeks about 190 members followed him which included a number of leaders. These were joined by others who had gathered in from elsewhere in the city. They soon started The New Testament Church which met in an old theatre, Burbank Hall. Other tests and trials needed to be past through. A rich lady offered money to build a new church, but by the grace of God soon withdrew her offer. They would soon have been consumed with building rather than praying. Then came a drift towards intellectualism but this also was overcome by the saints praying through.
On Easter Sunday 1906 after Smale had preached he called for testimonies. A coloured lady called Jennie Evans Moore, who had left with Smale to form the New Testament Church, stood and testified. She told of her experience three days before in a cottage on Bonnie Brae street where the Holy Ghost had fallen and where she along with several others had spoken in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. She then raised her voice and gave a message in tongues which was immediately interpreted in English that "this is that prophesied by Joel." This caused a great stir amongst the people, many asked is this Pentecost. They continued earnestly seeking the Lord. Many of his members began to attend the various other missions like Azusa in the city. But in June the New Testament Church received her Pentecost. Men and woman all over the hall were prostrate on the floor for hours. Powerful praise arose to God and many wept under the heavy presence of the Holy Spirit. This led into several all nights of prayer. Pastor Smale never received the Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the sign of tongues but he was considered by all to be God's Moses to bring them to Jordon, other leaders would lead them across and onwards.