“I have been content with the lot God has given me in life, and therefore I have always been happy!”
Helge Anker Smith was born in Horten on October 1, 1918. He was the youngest son of Pauline and Johan Oscar Smith. He grew up in a warm, happy home, characterized by faith, godliness, righteousness, and generosity. Helge saw the results of how his parents lived, and quickly realized that God’s blessing follows those who are godly. He personally saw the effects of the power of prayer; for example, on several occasions he was protected in amazing ways thanks to his mother’s prayers. At the same time, he saw that it went badly with those who resisted God and His servants.
In 1942, Helge was married to Esther Døviken from Krokstadelva. Their relationship was exceptionally good. They had nine children, one of whom is Kåre J. Smith, today’s leader of Brunstad Christian Church. On several occasions, Kåre has expressed that he grew up in what he calls “den lyckliga gatan” (“Happy street”). This clearly speaks of the compassion, goodness, and love that reigned in the home and around Esther and Helge Smith.
“One of the watchmen has gone home to the Lord”
On July 17, 2012, Helge Smith went home to his Lord and Savior at the age of 93. The July conference at Brunstad Conference Center was in progress at the time, and on July 20, about 4,500 friends from Norway and abroad were thus able to attend the funeral. This, as well as the memorial service that followed, were both events worthy of a dignitary, despite the fact that Helge had never had any kind of leading position in the church. The saying “It is difficult to measure the height of a tree until it is lying on the ground.” certainly applies to Helge Smith.
A series of points follows, which were brought out about Helge on that day, illuminating the significance of his life and the riches of the virtues of Christ of which he partook.
“I have always set my sights downward.” One of Helge’s sons-in-law quoted Helge. In this way, by truly humbling himself under his neighbors, viewing himself as lower than them, and obeying God’s laws and commandments, Helge Smith avoided the many problems and difficulties that pride and ambition can bring. He found great joy in exalting the others while he himself disappeared. He rejoiced greatly when it went well for others. “He who humbles himself will be exalted.” His daughter Randi said that this scripture was like a headline over her father’s life. Helge’s children tell about a father who always highly esteemed God’s servants. Someone who had been their friend through many decades said that Helge and Esther always sought out those who were poor in spirit and who had small thoughts about themselves but great thoughts about what God could do in and through them by His Spirit. This attentiveness to God’s promptings gave them a unique ability to see and honor those who walked righteously and faithfully with their Master, irrespective of outward circumstances.
“I feel as though one of the watchmen has gone home to the Lord,” said a friend and neighbor of the past 13 years. Isaiah 62:6 speaks of the watchmen whom God has set to watch over Jerusalem, which in the new covenant is the church of Jesus Christ. Helge Smith’s faithfulness to his Lord and Master made it so that he became a watchman, a steadfast pillar, firmly planted in a right and healthy understanding of the gospel. In this way, the home of Esther and Helge Smith became a safe and open harbor for everyone who had an upright love of the truth, even during times when certain individuals and forces stood for a different gospel than that which was from the beginning.
More than a few children called the Smiths “Aunt Esther and Uncle Helge.” This testified that the care and warmth was in no way limited by family or distances. One of these people tells that “when I came to points of decision during my youth, there was really no question; I couldn’t turn from the life I had seen and experienced!”
Generosity and righteousness
In 1952, the Smiths built a house on Kjelsås Street in the Grefsen area of Oslo, Norway. The house had two apartments, and Sigurd Bratlie and his family lived in the upstairs apartment. Starting in 1976, and for two decades thereafter, Bratlie was the worldwide leader of Brunstad Christian Church, and he traveled extensively for the gospel. As the generous and righteous person Helge Smith was, he let Bratlie rent from him as inexpensively as possible, in order to support the important work in the church. This generosity on the part of Helge Smith was not an isolated incident. Many people through the years felt Smith’s warmth, goodness, and not least his generosity; He always allowed the Holy Spirit to rule over his wallet.
“Rich to the last penny,” was a good description of him, despite the fact that the family was far from wealthy. Helge was a woodworker, and had a large family to support. Nevertheless, righteousness was of highest priority, and his children tell about a father who made sure to pay his bills on time, even if that meant that he had to walk a long way to the city center because he didn’t have enough money for the trolley.
“It would be unrighteous of me not to be thankful,” Helge said frequently. At the end of his life, when he was quite weak and the nurses were attending to him, he had nothing else besides, “thank you, thank you” on his lips. This was despite things being both tedious and painful. Thankfulness had become his nature.
A life of self-examination and sanctification
One month before he passed away, Helge was very sick and it looked like he would die, but he recovered unexpectedly. “I was given a little more time for self-examination and sanctification,” was his comment. Even though he had stood faithful in this work of inner purification since he was converted in 1941, he could, at the age of 93, still see areas where he had more to gain. One time his wife Esther said, “if Helge sees something in himself that he needs to be purified from, he does a thorough job of it, and makes great progress!” That is not bad praise from someone who has followed along so closely with his life!
A rich entrance into heaven
Toward the end, Helge had almost no voice or strength left; however, when he prayed for friends and the church, he was not lacking in either. Just one week before his death, he said something that in one way described his entire life:
“I am so thankful that God gave me grace and wisdom to take things in the right way … and to be righteous.”