[Betty]: He [Taylor] wasn’t around much. Daddy would go to church if he was in town, but he made no effort to engineer getting us to church. He would be in the car beeping the horn on Sunday morning. When we went to Park Street Church, he would drive us and sit in church. I think he went to the drug store to get a Coca Cola while we were in Sunday school.
The idea of missions started with Lee when she felt called of the Lord. When Lee decides something, you don’t get in her way. She was very serious.
I was afraid to ask my father to leave the country, but he was extremely pleased. It was a surprise to me. I thought he was against his girls leaving home.
Education was what was important to Daddy. He had three different master degrees. He thought we should have as much education as possible, the boys and the girls. So I attended Boston University. I paid for it on scholarship, and Wally and Lee helped financially, too.
I studied music, music history and piano, for two years and then transferred to Wheaton for a Christian background. There I had a partial scholarship and I did the work-study program. I washed dishes and worked in the snack-bar.
It was marrying Harley that got me involved in France.
[Harley]: I did a six-month tour with the Royal Aires, a quartet, in Sweden. During the early part of the sixth month, the Lord told me, “You’re going to Finland.”
Fine with me, I thought, but I don’t know anything about it. We were in Helsinki for four nights. The auditorium was packed out. We were in a big downtown church. Over 110 people came to the Lord. After we gave the invitation, I turned around to move chairs in case people came forward. When I turned back, the aisles were full and they were still coming.
During the days, a fleet of taxi cabs took us to meetings at a school, a church, a park, factories, and even with dancers. One of the seven pastors at the cathedral asked us to cancel the rest of our tour in Sweden and stay in Finland. Initially we said yes, but in praying about it, we decided no. We had made commitments.
They booked our return tickets and promised to outfit us with warm clothes. They put a tentative reservation on the Olympic stadium being built for 1952 Olympics. They promised to fill the stadium with 75 thousand.
We returned to the US by ship and slept whole time. We’d had three 1-hr meetings every day plus evening concerts for entire six months.
Two of the fellows went back to school so they wouldn’t be drafted. The group disbanded. I thought the world had come to an end. We’d sung together for five years.
(42 years later, we had a reunion at Canyon Lake. We hadn’t forgotten anything in our repertoire. Our baritone came from Ohio. One was in Buffalo, NY. One was in Rochester, NY. The second tenor and pianist had passed away.)
At the end of our Sweden tour, we’d traveled down through continent to reach our ship. We saw the wartime desolation. As we passed Cologne, Germany, I looked out the window. It was black. There was no building over one story. Rubble everywhere. But the spire and flying buttresses of the cathedral were in perfect condition, which is a tribute to American bombing. The bombers saved that. That is what gave me a vision for missions in Europe.
Anyway, it was raising money to go back to Finland that introduced me to a European missionary to Japan. She stayed at their house. She married a doctor. This is what gave Betty a vision for missions. Then we were introduced to Greater Europe Mission.story as recalled by Betty and Harley Smith (Betty’s husband) in a conversation with Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), November 13, 2013
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).
- Do you have a photo of Harley and Betty embarking on their first France trip? Can we see it? How about one of Betty’s graduation from college or Harley with his singing group?
- Can you add details to the story of the missionary to Japan and her influence on Betty?
- Can you tell more about the process of finding and joining GEM? What year was that?
- What years was Betty at BU? At Wheaton?