Johan Oscar Smith was converted as he stood watch on the navy battleship Thor on May 17th, 1898, and this was the start of what was later to become Brunstad Christian Church. As Smith gradually began to interact with other believers, there was little to suggest this group of Christians would expand into a worldwide Christian community.
But after Johan Oscar Smith got converted in 1898, and during the early 1900s, a circle of friends who experienced fellowship in their faith started gathering. Since then, BCC has slowly but surely grown from an unorganized group of friends, to an officially registered church with 8.200 members in Norway, in addition to local churches in 54 countries.
FROM ONE MAN TO A WORLDWIDE CHURCH
Johan Oscar Smith was born in the port city of Fredrikstad in 1871, and was raised in a Christian home. As a 15 year old, he went to sea and two years later began to serve in the Norwegian Navy. His conversion happened when he was alone on his shift on a Navy boat the night before May 17th, 1898.
In 1905, his younger brother, dentist Aksel Smith, wrote a letter to Johan, saying that he had given his life to Jesus. After this, Smith started to instruct his brother thoroughly. Much of their correspondence is documented in the book “Letters of Johan O. Smith” (Skjulte Skatters Forlag, 19xx).
The brothers Aksel and Johan Oscar Smith actively wrote for Christian publications; but as Smith’s teachings met more and greater opposition, their articles were frequently rejected. This led to them to start thinking about publishing their own paper. On January 1, 1912, the first issue of “Skjulte Skatter” (“Hidden Treasures”) was published. A foundation with the same name is still publishing the periodical today, 100 years later.
Johan Oscar Smith (1871–1943)
Growth and development for the church
Johan Oscar Smith served in the Norwegian Navy for almost 40 years, and met many people via his profession as a navy officer. Over time he gained followers of the faith both in the Navy and along the entire coast of Norway. Today established churches are connected to cities and towns in Østfold, Horten, Sandefjord, Tønsberg, Grenland, Lillesand, Stavanger, Stord, Bergen, Måløy, Molde, Harstad, Oslo, Drammen, Eiker, Hønefoss, Hamar, Hallingdal, and Valdres.
From Norway the same doctrine spread to other countries. Despite the fact that Smith never wished for a large following, the church has grown steadily since its beginning, and is a worldwide Christian community today.
Local churches connected to BCC can be found throughout Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, and many members travel regularly to our international conferences in Norway, which are held multiple times each year.
Bringing individuals to a connection with Jesus
In contrast to many other preachers who often put a strong emphasis on gathering many people, Johan O. Smith worked diligently with each individual soul. He was more interested in working with a few who developed personal relationships with Christ, than in having many followers.
Brunstad Christian Church has held fast to this profile and the Biblical teachings which Johan Oscar Smith left behind—they remain the evangelical foundation that the church builds on. Since its humble beginning in the early 1900s, the church´s vision has been to bring individuals to a connection with Jesus, so that a personal faith in the gospel can be born in each unique person.