Aksel Smith (1880–1919)
Aksel Smith went to school to become a dentist in the beginning of the 1900s, and opened a practice on Dronningens street in Kristiansand.
Aksel’s older brother, Johan Oscar, was converted and gave his life to God in 1898. That was the start of a new life for Johan, and also the start of a period of conversations and letter correspondence between Johan and Aksel. Many of Johan’s letters to Aksel have been preserved and are published in a bound volume, Letters of Johan Oscar Smith. This collection is a unique insight into the correspondence between the two brothers, Aksel and Johan, seen from Johan’s side. The spiritual insights that came out through this correspondence are central to Brunstad Christian Church.
Aksel was also one of the founders of the publication, Hidden Treasures, which was started in 1912 and now has had its 100 year anniversary. The paper has been like a snow plow that has cleared a path for the gospel of Christ manifested in the flesh; and the church, the body of Christ.
As one of the first people who became gripped by his brother’s revelations, Aksel Smith stood as one of the main pillars in the church during the early days, although he only lived to be 38 years old. He was also a founder and co-editor for the church’s main publication, Hidden Treasures, which has now been in publication for more than 100 years.
Aksel Smith, born in Kristiansand in 1880, was the youngest brother of Johan Oscar Smith, the founder of the Christian movement now known as Brunstad Christian Church. In the beginning of the 1900s, Johan and his brother began a dialogue, both when they were together and through letters. After being the recipient of his brother Johan’s thorough instruction about the life of Jesus, Aksel became gripped of this life, and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. This was the start of a short but very rich life that had great significance.
In his book, Shepherd and Prophet, Kåre J. Smith describes Aksel as a man who was “exceptionally gentle and good and did many good deeds.” At the same time, he was an active missionary, and between 1906-1908 became a personal friend of, among others, T.B. Barratt from the Pentecostal movement.
Of greatest importance for Aksel, however, was practical Christianity – following Jesus’ example at every opportunity. By necessary exhortations, good works, and prayer, Aksel Smith won the hearts of many – young and old. His life became the light of men. (John 1:4)
“Here within, I have an eternal life”
Aksel Smith was not in good health, and in 1919, at the age of 38 he died of the Spanish flu. Although this was a huge loss for the church and for his brother Johan, there is no doubt that his entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven was exceptionally rich.
“Here within, I have an eternal life. I believe in Jesus Christ,” said Aksel, pointing to his chest when the doctor said there was not much hope left.
His eternal life within came from his genuine godliness and faith in God. It is also significant that his first article to Hidden Treasures (Skjulte Skatter) is titled “Prayer is work,” and is about the power in a hidden prayer life.
“Prayer is a mighty power. It releases eternal forces and sets them in motion; it causes God to act. Prayer is an inner ministry before God’s face. This inner ministry is what Satan fears most; that is why prayer is power, an expression of intense spiritual work, which produces great and manifest fruit.”
The fisherman with a toothache
One time there was an old fisherman who told about the fishing season of 1914 and how he had met the dentist Aksel Smith.
“The fishing that year was hopeless – the catch and the earnings were very poor. Once while I was fishing I got a horrible toothache. It was so bad that I had to stop and go back in to Drøbak. I looked up a dentist, a very religious man. He examined my tooth and extracted it, and cleaned the wound. At the same time, he took a look at the rest of my teeth and said:
“‘You have something on the other side as well which will develop into a terrible toothache if you don’t have it fixed. I suggest you come back tomorrow.’
“I couldn’t bear the thought of having that pain again, so I decided to come back the next day. The only thing troubling me was how I was going to pay for it. I didn’t actually have any money. The next day I went back to the dentist and all the while I was thinking about how I was going to pay for all the work he had done on my teeth. I knew he had been working for a whole hour.
“When it was time to pay, I asked: ‘How much does all this cost?’
“‘It doesn’t cost anything, my good man,’ answered the dentist.
“It was as though he had looked straight through me and knew how poorly it was going with me. Have you ever been to a dentist like that?” asked the old fisherman.
“And not only that! As I crossed the square in Drøbak, I put my hand in my pocket and found a twenty crown coin he had given me.”
A prolific writer
During the course of seven years, Aksel wrote over 150 articles for Hidden Treasures as well as two books: Vill i Troen (Astray in the Faith ) and The Four Stages in the Development of a Believer. These writings give a little glimpse into the content of his life and his heart for people.
Aksel also wrote several songs that are still sung today and which bring joy and encouragement for young and old alike. One of these songs, number 111 in the hymnal Ways of the Lord, shows some of the joy Aksel experienced when he served Jesus. The first verse goes like this:
In my heart there’s jubilation—
Jesus gives me revelation;
Now with all my heart I joyfully can say:
I have found the way to heaven,
And God’s kingdom grows like leaven;
It increases in me gloriously each day.
Below you can watch the song being performed by the youth group in BKM Horten during a song competition held by Brunstad in 2010.