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A Strong Will

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In November 1919, William F. Smalley and his fiancée, Miss Dorothy L. Allen, attended A. B. Simpson’s funeral, and together with five [others], were the first Alliance missionaries to sail after his death. They reached Jerusalem December 29, 1919.

The aim . . . was to enter Arabia and the area east of the Jordan. Smalley . . . soon proved he was born for the task—fearless, intrepid, resourceful and untiring. The mission’s rule required two years’ residence on the field before marriage; however, to move ahead with the work the Board asked Mr. Smalley and Miss Allen to marry early. One week after the wedding Mr. Smalley crossed the south end of the Dead Sea.

At Karak, Smalley asked permission of the chief Arab official to come into the area to open up a mission station and a school. The answer was a swift and definite “No!” and, further, if he stayed more than 24 hours, he would be disposed of.

With Karak closed, Smalley turned northward and opened Medaba in late 1921. There, he and his bride saw continual warfare between the townspeople and the surrounding Arabs and sometime conflicts between the Bedouins and the government troops. . . . So unsafe was the area that a Medaba man would not venture outside the town without a modern rifle, a first-class revolver or a vicious dagger. Sometimes he carried all three.

Smalley was immediately accepted by the people. Soon, 150 persons were attending his preaching services. The missionary’s success soon brought about Smalley’s summary expulsion from Jordan. When Mrs. Smalley discovered she was not included in the expulsion order, she elected to stay . . . with their baby in fearsome Medaba while Smalley went to Jerusalem. There, no American, British or Arab official offered help; rather, they strongly advised him to get his wife out. Smalley, under cover of night, crossed back into Jordan and shortly after daylight one morning was back in Medaba. . . .

After much insistence, once again he was granted permission to stay—but at a terrific cost. The Alliance meeting hall was confiscated and turned into a mosque. He was prohibited from holding public services, and if any [local] were to visit him, the [person] would receive 30 stripes and three months’ imprisonment.

Still burdened for Karak, Smalley occasionally made the two-day trip in an effort to break down opposition. Eventually he moved his household goods and family to Karak by camel. . . . Although the situation was rough and dangerous, they lived there a couple of years . . . Shortly after their arrival, the very Bedouin sheikh who two years previously had adamantly forbade Smalley to stay in Karak entrusted his six- and eight-year-old sons to Smalley to teach. In 1957, one of these sons was appointed chief of staff of the Jordan Arab army.

—L. L. King, adapted from the introduction to a book Smalley compiled in 1976

Past Alliance Life Issues

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