Albert Benjamin Simpson
was born on December 15, 1843, to parents
of Scottish descent. He grew to be one of
the most respected Christian figures in American
evangelicalism. A much sought after speaker
and pastor, Simpson founded a major evangelical
denomination, published over 70 books, edited
a weekly magazine for nearly 40 years, and
wrote many gospel songs and poems.
However, the first few years of his life were
spent in relative simplicity on Prince Edward
Island, Canada, where his father, an elder
in the Presbyterian church, worked as a shipbuilder
and eventually became involved in the export/import
industry. To avoid an approaching business
depression, the family moved to Ontario where
the younger Simpson accepted Christ as his
Savior at age fifteen and was subsequently
"called by God to preach" the Gospel
After graduating from Knox College in Toronto
in 1865, Simpson accepted his first pastorate
at Knox Church in Hamilton, one of Canada's
largest and most influential congregations.
After eight years at the church, God led Simpson
to Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in
Louisville, Kentucky. "God was answering
his heart's yearning for 'better things,'"
writes A. W. Tozer in Wingspread, a book that
chronicles Simpson's life. He was also providing
Simpson, whose health was suffering, with
a break from the harsh Canadian climate.
Simpson realized that God was using his weakness
to move him into a closer and deeper love
for Jesus Christ. His dependence on God became
natural as did his communion with the Savior.
William MacArthur, a friend and co-worker,
said Simpson once told him: "I am no
good unless I can get alone with God."
MacArthur added: "His practice was to
hush his spirit, and literally cease to think,
then in the silence of his soul, he listened
for the 'still small voice' [of God]."
Simpson discovered he was also developing
a deep compassion for the lost. A desire to
evangelize began to consume him. In his biographical
article on Simpson, Daniel Evearitt wrote:
"I discovered that those who knew [Simpson]
paint a picture of a dynamic but humble worker
for God who inspired others to total commitment
to God's service and Kingdom. They portray
him as a loving, caring, patient man."
Paul Rader, former pastor of the Moody Church
in Chicago and Simpson's long time associate,
said: "He was the greatest heart preacher
I ever listened to. He preached out of his
own rich dealings with God."
In Louisville, God gave Simpson a vision for
a city-wide revival. The result was astounding.
"The city was moved to its depths and
hundreds were converted. At the close of the
campaign, large numbers were received in to
the churches," writes Tozer.
"[Simpson] had becomethough he
did not yet realize it fullan evangelist
to the masses . . . From here on he belongs
no more to one church, but to all who need
him, not to his parish only, but to all the
A time came when "in the privacy of his
own room," Simpson yielded himself to
God in total surrender. "Not knowing,"
he said, "but it would be death in the
most literal sense." He later referred
to this time as a death to selfthe old
man and the self-asserting ego.
From that point on, Simpson said he began
to live "a consecrated, crucified, and
Christ-devoted life." God's call to the
unevangelized was now a full-blown part of
Simpson went on to pastor the New York 13th
Street Presbyterian Church. However in 1881,
he resigned and began to hold independent
evangelistic meetings in New York City. A
year later, the Gospel Tabernacle was built,
and Simpson began to turn his vision toward
establishing an organization for missions.
Simpson helped to form and head up two evangelization
societiesThe Christian Alliance and
The Evangelical Missionary Alliance. As thousands
joined these two groups, Simpson sensed a
need for the two to become one. In 1897, they
became The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Serving as pastor until 1918, Simpson continued
to seek ways to reach the hurting and unsaved.
Tozer writes: "For thirty years he continued
to lead the society which he had formed, and
never for the least division of a moment did
he forget or permit the society to forget
the purpose for which it was brought into
being . . . 'It is to hold up Jesus in His
fullness, the same yesterday, and today, and
". . . He sought to provide a fellowship
only, and looked with suspicion upon anything
like rigid organization. He wanted the Alliance
to be a spiritual association of believers
who hungered to know the fullness of the blessing
of the Gospel of Christ, working concertedly
for the speedy evangelization of the world."
On October 28, 1919, Simpson slipped into
a coma from which he never recovered. Family
members recall that his final words were spoken
to God in prayer for all the missionaries
he had helped to send throughout the world.
To the end, Simpson remained devoted first
to his beloved Savior and then to all who
would dare to take the gospel message to a
lost and dying world. A. B. Simpsona
man of vision and faith.