Born in London, Smith became a Christian in 1874. During his days at Trinity College, when he was a prominent member of the Cambridge rowing team, he engaged in street evangelism and participated in D. L. Moody’s 1884 London campaign. He went to China with the China Inland Mission (CIM) in 1885, as one of the famed Cambridge Seven.
Most of his missionary service was in the province of Shansi (Shanxi) in the cities of Linfen, Hongtong, Lungan (Changzhi), and Tsechou (Jincheng). Often working with the noted Chinese leader Hsi Shengmo, he engaged in rural evangelism, ministry to opium addicts, and training of evangelists. A forceful and fluent speaker in both English and Chinese, he was widely effective in revival and evangelistic rallies. A man of strong opinions, he had difficulty in relating well to missionary and Chinese colleagues. He once shocked Hudson Taylor by joining with other missionaries and local Christians in a Salvation Army-type parade through the streets of Lungan.
In the late 1890s he espoused that all were not necessarily lost simply because they had not heard of Christ, contrary to the CIM statement asserting “eternal punishment of the lost.” As a result he was asked to resign from the mission. In 1900 he published China from Within. He remained in China as an independent missionary until his death.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Material on the life and ministry of Stanley Smith can be found in A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century, vols. 6 and 7 (1988, 1989).