He was born into a very poor, hardworking moral family. At age of 6 he worked all day long every day picking turnips; as a result he received no formal education. When he was 8 years old his firebrand grandmother took him to an old fashioned Methodist revival meeting. As the believers danced around a big stove, clapping and singing he looked with faith to the Lamb of Calvary and was born-again. He started his Christian life with one truth that would mark his whole life above all others “only believe.” The first person he led to his Saviour was his own mother. Even though he was not able to read, he always carried a New Testament in his pocket. He became a real winner of souls one-to-one but was unable to preach publically. It was his wife Polly who did all the preaching at their mission and who taught him to read. As a plumber during a bad Yorkshire winter he was kept busy with work and ended up spiritually cold and angry in a backslidden state. But his wife burnt brighter and eventually won him back to Christ. Now he won souls to Christ as he fixed their burst pipes.
The first times he ever saw a sick person healed was when he was in his 40’s. He prayed for a crippled Scots man who was immediately healed to Smith’s great shock. In 1907, he travelled to meetings in Sunderland, seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit; his wife was utterly sceptical. He received the baptism with the evidence of tongues and returned home on fire for God. His disbelieving wife said “you can prove it by preaching at the next meeting.” As he stood and preached with power Polly moved up and down the seat saying “That’s not my Smith.” One of his first campaigns was at a Lancashire factory with its 1000 workers. It was closed each afternoon and smith preached five times each day afternoon and evening. In 1914 he started to travel internationally preaching. His faith-filled message and boldness has affected the church ever since. He went to be with the Lord at the age of 87.