By My Spirit

Genre:Missionary biography
Subject:Jonathan Goforth
Location:Grand Rapids
Library:Physical collection at

Scripture Testimony Index stories in this book

Jonathan Goforth explains how confession of sin is crucial to revival, and the first step is to confess any sin against another individual and be reconciled, which opens the way to both the private and public altars of confession.
The successes recorded in his ministry notwithstanding, Jonathan Goforth wanted more. Inspired by the promise of Jesus that those who believe will do greater things than He did, Mr. Goforth gave himself to intense study of the scriptures and books on revivals. He was determined to find the key to unleashing the “greater things.”
Jonathan Goforth was strongly urged by the Spirit of God to reconcile with a brother missionary with whom he had differences before heading out to preach. And though he resisted, justifying that the other brother was at fault, God insisted and promised to not be with him on his revival tour until he obeyed.
During a visit to Korea, a place where revival had just broken out, Jonathan Goforth learned that the Christians there had revival not because they were special in any way, but simply because they prayed and waited on God. It was their persistent prayer that was rewarded with marvelous revival.
A church elder confessed his sin to Jonathan Goforth. The next morning, he confessed it to all the people, which open the floodgates. Confession and repentance engulfed the entire church, bringing about forgiveness and restoration between one another.
A pastor called on his congregation to pray for those who had drifted away from the church. The congregation responded in unity and prayed as one man. Not long after that many of those who had backslidden began to return, confessing their sins and crying out for mercy.
Revival grew out of a single village to become a movement in the surrounding country. Revived Christians went everywhere preaching the Gospel with amazing results. Most remarkable is the story of a man who was a notorious gambler, who journeyed on his donkey intending to collect his gambling debts. But God clearly directed the donkey to a revival meeting instead.
A young fellow who had a reputation for being a notorious bandit was caught by the authorities. Despite beatings, he refused to admit his guilt, so the authorities gave up and released him. But one day he was convinced to attend a revival meeting that convicted him. He stood before the whole community and confessed his sins, and his story became a testimony that touched many.
A young woman who had conspired with her father to steal medicines from the mission hospital. She left the mission, ostensibly, over her wounded pride at being accused. A series of revival meetings were being held in her village, but she refused to attend. The congregation led a special prayer for her. The Holy Spirit not only compelled her to attend, but led her into sweet repentance.
In 1900, the ruthless Governor Yu Hsien, of the Shanshi province, violently opposed the gospel. Over one hundred missionaries and many native Christians, including children, were massacred for their faith. But the peaceful way in which the Christians met their fate was a powerful witness to the reality of God.
A thirteen-year-old girl is about to be killed for being a Christian. Until she was abruptly beheaded, like Stephen in Acts, she boldly confronted the Governor upon whose orders they were to be massacred. She used her last moments to speak truth and make a strong case for her faith.
A Chinese scholar witnessed a massacre of Christians and was amazed at the fearlessness with which they faced brutal death. This led him on a search of God's word and the ultimate realization that there is salvation in no other but Jesus Christ.
Mr. Kuo was an influential church member whose courage during the boxer uprising comforted and strengthened many Christians. But he became a backslider and left the church. Jonathan Goforth personally invited him to attend a revival meeting. When it was time to pray, there were many distractions, and Mr. Goforth despaired that the Holy Spirit would not move. But when Mr. Kuo began to pray, the environment immediately changed, and he many others found repentance and relief.
Some had thought that the manifestations of God's Spirit through the ministry of Jonathan Goforth would be limited to places where he was well-known. Even Mr. Goforth himself was wary. His visit to Changtehfu showed that God would show His power anywhere.
Jonathan Goforth openly rebukes a man who had, probably through pride, allowed the devil take hold of him during a prayer meeting. Even though the man had been used powerfully by God the night before, this time it seemed that he was sowing confusion, not peace.
Wang Ee exaggerated his losses and profited unjustly from the indemnity he was given for the properties he lost to the 1900 Boxer unrest. Upon confessing his sins, he promised to use every cent of this dishonest gain for good and he kept his word.
Jonathan Goforth, his wife, and an elder at Lingchang were gathered in prayers for a deacon who was trying very hard to keep his sins unconfessed. Latching unto Jesus' promise in Matthew 18:19, they petitioned God for the life of this deacon, and the next morning the Lord honored His word and answered their prayers.
Kuo Lao Tsui was a hopeless opium addict who lost both his wealth and his first wife because of his addiction. He was a ruined man, completely useless, and could not even sleep without the drug. One day Kuo's friends carried him to an evangelistic meeting where he finally met with the One who saves, and who transforms lives. Kuo went on to become one of the ablest preachers in North Honan.
Yeh was embroiled in a lawsuit with the Chang family. But after attending a meeting where Jonathan Goforth taught on forgiveness, Yeh was convicted to become a Christian and to forgive the Changs. In just 3 months, God used the dramatic change in Yeh to lead every member of the Chang family to new life in Christ.
A teacher at Mr. Salee's school, who had boldly lied a year before, confessed his sin before the entire student body, saying that every time he tried to pray, the lie came to mind. His confession led the students to confess other sins, and by the next day, fifty-five students had professed Christ as their Savior.
A demon possessed man was roused into a great fury whenever the Spirit of God moved with power during meetings, or when the words “Jesus of Nazareth” were spoken. The Chinese church leaders and missionaries gathered around him and cast the “foul fiend” out of the man in the name of Jesus, after which he was in his right mind.
In 1900, Mr. Argento, an Italian missionary with the C.I.M. in Kwangchow was set on fire and left to die by the Boxers. And while his life was eventually spared, he lost his sight and suffered bodily harm. Yet even this close shave with death could not deter him, motivated by his burden for unsaved souls; he was determined to remain useful for God even as a blind man.
Yang was a prize-fighter whose undisputed boast was that no man could knock him down. However once Yang became a Christian, he was waylaid twice and beaten almost to death. Instead of pressing charges or fighting back, his response was to pray for his assailants and to show them love. Before his death, he led many of his old enemies to Jesus.
Worried about Wen’s addiction to opium, drinking and gambling, a friend advised him to go to “that Jesus church and have the missionary pray for you.” Wen took the advice and was prayed for by Mr. Argento. Since that day, he had become a new man in Christ Jesus.
Dr. L—’s minor altercation with a fellow evangelist became the stumbling block to God’s overpouring in a meeting. When Dr. L— publicly confessed his sin, the whole atmosphere changed, men and women in the building fell on their knees confessing their sins, including the offended evangelist.
Mr. Goforth was uncharacteristically filled with anxiety and worry about God’s seeming inability to move during a meeting. He continued to worry until he was rebuked by the Lord. As soon as he accepted this rebuke, the Spirit began to move, leading men to confess their sins.
In the course of a prayer meeting with schoolboys, the Spirit of God moved; causing the boys to weep aloud and pound their desks. Then they began to go to one other, confessing specific sins and seeking forgiveness.
During a meeting of believers, after a man was confirmed to be demon possessed, he was taken out of the meeting to be prayed for. The Christian brethren continued to pray for this man even as he manifested different strange signs of demonic possession. Finally, the demon was at last cast out, and the following day the change in him was obvious to all.
Jonathan Goforth openly rebuked a man under the devil’s influence and demanded that he stop his empty prayer and sit down. After the meeting, the man confessed to Mr. Goforth that, in order to avoid dealing with his sins, he had been led by the devil to merely appear spiritual. The following day he confessed this and his many other sins to the entire congregation.
Miss Gregg learned that God does not do things for us so that we will serve him, nor does He always accomplish His will according to our expectations. She had to trust Him to clear up the quarrels that were obstructing His work.
A Chinese evangelist whose entire family was killed by the Boxers was unable to find peace, nor was he able to pray, until he forgave his enemies; whom he was previously planning to murder. God showed him plainly that if he would not forgive his enemies, God could not forgive him.
An evangelist confessed his bitterness and struggle to avenge the killing of his family. The understanding that Christ forgives us as we forgive us our sins as we forgive those who offend us brought him to the place of prayer.
The believers and missionaries at Shuntehfu were so burdened with prayer for their community, that they would rather pray than eat. As a result, the spirit of God came with such power during the meetings, that five hundred people acknowledged Christ as their Savior for the first time.
University students in Peking had convinced one another that the revival meeting confessions occurring in other places were because Jonathan Goforth easily manipulated the uneducated and unsophisticated. The prideful students resolved to show him that his hypnotism would not work. But in time, the spirit of God fell upon the university students leading them to confess their sins. One hundred fifty of those newly empowered students went on missionary journeys two by two during their holidays.
A group of Normal School boys in the revival meetings sat with their heads down, reading books instead of listening. After days of resistance, one schoolboy yielded to the Spirit’s conviction, publicly threw down his distracting book, and led the way to confess to the sin of adultery. More boys, broken by God, emulated him and also confessed their sins.
A poor table-boy who had just given his life to Christ realized that although he had nothing to give the Lord, he could give up smoking tobacco and spare the money to give Him. This decision brought him such joy, he could scarcely contain himself, and this testimony moved his master to tears.
While on his way to Hwanghsien, an evangelist asked if the Holy Spirit would revive the people in the same way He has done in other places. Jonathan Goforth replied that the Holy Spirit is always willing to revive His people irrespective of location, all that is needed is for the people to call and wait upon Him. This proved correct. In Hwangghsien, the people prayed, and the Holy Spirit poured out upon them. By the time Jonathan left, every boy, girl, student, man, and woman had been converted in that congregation.
At Pingtuchow, Jonathan Goforth faced every imaginable obstacle that could hinder the work of the Holy Spirit. There were wide disagreements amongst the missionaries, including disunity over non-essential doctrines. However, things changed on the sixth day when the leading missionary was convicted and apologized to his opponent. That began a reconciliation chain culminating in the transformation of that church; everyone confessed their sin. Three years later, more than three thousand have been added to the church in that region.
Members of a congregation were pushed to confess their sins on the platform publicly, they had tried to confess privately, but they had no peace. Several shy schoolgirls were bold when it was their turn to confess, saying private confession had given no peace.
An evangelist was convicted of his sins—disrespect for his mother and wife, aloofness for welfare of the souls under his care, theft of his church's finances, and abandonment of his opium addicted brother. He made the tough decision to publicly confess and make restitution. He kept his word.
The missionaries in Hsuchowfu were having difficulty with their High School students. When Jonathan Goforth arrived Hsuchowfu in the fall of 1915 for some meetings, the students vowed never to change. On the third day, a boy yielded to the Holy Spirit and confessed. That began a chain of confession that engulfed the whole school. Both boys and girls surrendered their lives to Christ. The students' lives were changed so much that they gave up tobacco, cigarettes, and stolen knives, pencils and handkerchiefs were restored to their owners.
A previously worldly teacher was physically attacked at a public meeting. The teacher did not retaliate, which was out of character for him. He later reflected that his new calm demeanor was a fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him.
In a girl’s school where every girl committed her life to Christ, the last to yield was an undisciplined girl whose reputation for mischief was well known. Her transformation was instant and made a strong impression on the heart of the principal, an old Confucian scholar who prided himself as a man who did not need the “western Jesus.” But upon seeing this girl’s changed life, with tears rolling down his cheeks, he confessed, “Jesus has conquered. He is God. I yield.”
Jonathan Goforth explains that all of the revivals in China, indeed all of the great movements of God in history, are birthed in prayer.
Jonathan Goforth followed God's leading, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the "detective" in a gathering, the congregation broke down in tears crying and confessing their sins.