The School That Vision Built: The Preparation Years 1843-1882


The Preparation Years: 1843-1882

Albert Benjamin Simpson

Perhaps it all began for Simpson shortly after his birth in 1843 to parents of Scottish descent on Prince Edward Island, Canada.  He was baptized and dedicated to the Lord by Reverend John Geddie, the first Canadian missionary to the South Pacific islands.

Twenty-two years later Simpson was pasturing Knox Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Ontario, when the furloughing Geddie spoke in a nearby church.  Conversing with Simpson, Geddie chided him for not going to the mission field.  “Why, when I baptized you,” he said, “I asked God to make you a foreign missionary.”

After the young Canadian pastor accepted a call from the Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, he recorded how that one night a dream transported him to an auditorium.  On the platform were many Chinese, evidently in deep distress because they were wringing their hands with great agitation.

The scene faded and in its place came conviction that the dream was a call to missionary service.  Simpson applied to the Southern Presbyterian Mission Board, but was turned down because of his age and family responsibilities.

Gospel Tabernacle in New York,
where the early classes met in
worship and for special occasions.

Impelled now by a vision that embraced the world, he concluded that he could serve best the cause of missions by publishing an illustrated missionary magazine.  Several denominations already produced missionary journals, but Simpson considered them drab and dull, to be opened only out of a sense of duty by loyal church members. This project prompted him to accept the call to a church in New York City.  He reasoned that the city was the best place to publish his envisioned paper, The Gospel In All Lands.

Two years later, in 1881, Simpson transferred the publishing rights of his seventy-page monthly to Eugene Smith, a Methodist.  But, if nothing else, the magazine helped bring him to New York, where his vision as a world Christian would have one of its greatest results: the school now known as Nyack College.

Continue to The Foundation Years: 1882-1919