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Conversion of R. A. Torrey: A Great American Preacher

compiled by Hy. Pickering

R. A. TorreyDr. R. A. Torrey, the well-known American evangelist, whose name will long be held in regard by thousands of Christian workers in all parts of the world, was born in 1856, at Hoboken, N.J., [United States], his father being a manufacturer in Brooklyn and New York City. From his earliest childhood he was brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, being taught to read his Bible and pray daily, a habit which he maintained during later years of wandering and skepticism.

The first definite religious impressions came from reading a book on which he stumbled, when but a boy, in the lumber-room at home. Reading this book, the question arose: "Will you be a Christian now?" But with that came the thought that if he said "Yes" he would have to be a minister, and, shrinking from such a calling, he said, "No," and for some years seemed to be left alone.

At the age of fifteen he entered Yale University, and having no spiritual life, easily fell into the ways of sin, associating with a fast set, and becoming reckless, even while continuing constant in attendance at church and prayer-meeting, as well as the reading of the Bible and daily prayer! In all this he found, of course, no true happiness, and, indeed, confessed that, "during his junior year, life became an utter burden, of which he wanted to be relieved, until, in sheer desperation, one night he rose from bed, and told God that if He would give relief he would preach the Gospel, should He so bid him."

This open confession he made in the last term of his senior college year. Entering Yale Theological Seminary, he fell away for a time, and professed to be a skeptic, but by the goodness of God was brought out of darkness into the light of life, through the study of Christian evidences.

His evangelistic tours covered many years — in Australia, New Zealand, India, Great Britain, United States and Canada. Taken as a whole, the movement which Dr. Torrey organized and carried out with abounding energy, marked the greatest of its kind since the days of Moody and Sankey.

Death came on Friday, 26th October, 1928, at Ashville, North Carolina.

From Twice-Born Men: True Conversion Records of 100 Well-Known Men in All Ranks of Life compiled by Hy. Pickering. London: Pickering & Inglis, [193-?]

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