Goforth of China
by Rosalind Goforth
Scripture Testimony Index stories in this book
At a conference south of Chicago, the Goforths listened as a man who had been described as a “brilliant speaker” used a beautiful story to redirect the needless praises showered on him, stressing that God’s glory will be shared with nobody.
After listening Dr. G. L. Mackay present the dire need for helpers in foreign missions, Jonathan Goforth responded with, “Here am I; send me,” to God’s “Who will go for us and whom shall we send?”
When Rosalind accepted Christ at a revival meeting, some tried to sow doubts in her mind about her salvation. But the 12-year-old went to the Scriptures to find answers, and there she received God’s assurance. When another difficulty in her faith arose, Rosalind knew to seek God through His Word. There again, she found His assurance.
When Jonathan Goforth arrived in China, he was warned by an old, experienced missionary, “Do not attempt to speak of Jesus the first time when preaching to a heathen audience. The Chinese have a prejudice against the name of Jesus. Confine your efforts to demolishing the false gods and if you have a second opportunity you may bring in Jesus.” Goforth rejected this advice. Immediately, he began preaching Christ and Christ crucified, with blessed results.
Jonathan Goforth had a problem reading and speaking the Chinese language, and he feared he would be a failure as a missionary. One day while preaching, he experienced an unusual fluency. God had performed a miracle. Unknown to him at the time, this help from God came as a result of the prayer of some students half a world away. They had prayed for Goforth at the precisely same day he had experienced the language breakthrough.
When Jonathan Goforth visited a village alongside two Evangelists, they were not received warmly. They were mocked and the villagers wouldn't listen to them. Goforth opened Matthew 10:14-15 and read, “Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” This caused great fear amongst the people which resulted in a change of heart.
A proud scholar surrendered to Jesus and was discipled by a much younger Jonathan Goforth. Instead of seeing the Gospel doctrine as just another intellectual pursuit to be mastered, the man was continually humbled by the profound things of God in Christ. God began to use his testimony to draw more men to Himself, and soon this man obeyed the call to be an evangelist for Jesus.
Armed with the promise in Philippians 4:19; "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," the Goforths took to their knees to ask God for a much-needed helper for Mr. Goforth. Two days later, the Lord sent them the most amazing, albeit unlikely, helper.
In 1893, terrible false allegations were brought against the missionaries in China that they had been murdering children and harvesting their organs. As these rumors spread far and wide, the work of sharing the gospel was consequently affected.
Jonathan Goforth would not take any medication, despite being critically ill, insisting that his trust was in God alone. But after yielding at last to his wife’s persistent urging of him to take medication, he got well and learned a vital lesson; that medicine is a legitimate expression of God's healing power.
The Goforths were concerned that their new semi-Western house could be a hindrance to the relationships with their neighbors. Through prayer they made the decision to open up their new home to locals for sightseeing, which ultimately helped make the work of reaching and evangelizing the people easier, as it made the people see them as friends, not strangers.
Little Gracie was in the end stages of malaria, and the doctor predicted that her end would come with convulsions, as it had for two of the Goforths other children. Near the end, Rosalind sunk to her knees and prayed that little Gracie’s death, if it be God’s will that she should die, be peaceful and without struggle. Rosalind’s prayer was answered while she was still praying.
Jonathan Goforth had a passion and fearlessness for preaching, which was encouraged by the ready reception of the Good News by the people. Though he spent long hours teaching crowds about Jesus, his joy was so great that he said, "It is no weariness to the flesh to tell out the Gospel to people so willing to hear. Time flies and our strength is renewed like the eagle’s".
Like when the Jews plotted to kill the Apostle Paul, Chinese officials formed a plan to ambush the Goforth’s traveling party and massacre all of them. But also like He did for the Apostle Paul, God cleverly thwarted the evil plan.
In spite of his successes in ministry, Jonathan Goforth was restless to see more fruit. His entire soul burned with desire that the Lord’s promise, “and greater works shall ye do,” be fulfilled in him at any cost. When he began to read pamphlets about the Welsh Revival happening on the other side of the world, he began to see how the Holy Spirit would fulfill this promise.
Like the patter of heavy drops before a downpour, the Holy Spirit prompted a few to pray prayers of repentance and then, “in a moment the whole company was crying aloud to God for mercy.” As the days of the conference went on, a new confidence in the tone of the prayers arose from a renewed sense of pardon, peace, and power.
An unbelieving widow in Canada read an account of one of Mr. Goforth’s revival meetings in China which “gripped her very soul.” She went to her knees, confessed her sins, and yielded to the Lord Jesus. Then she demonstrated her true conversion by seeking out all those from whom she had stolen, in order to confess and make restitution.
While in London Mr. Goforth met an invalid woman who was known as a powerful prayer intercessor on behalf of others. She told him that one time when she had heard about certain meetings Mr. Goforth was holding in Manchuria, she was led especially to intercede to God on his behalf. In comparing their calendars, Mr. Goforth was in awe that on the particular days she was led to pray for him, he was most effective in faraway Manchuria.
While the Goforth’s sending agency approved of their plans to expand the work, they were not able to provide funding, and eventually Jonathan’s own salary could not be stretched any further. It was at this moment of extremity that they received a letter from a perfect stranger who sent funds along with a commitment to be a regular supporter. God had supplied for His work.
Jonathan Goforth had the tremendous joy of welcoming two young boys to the fold of Christ, one leading the other, like Andrew the disciple. Goforth said, “Truly this is a work that angels might covet!”
When the funds for the work were running low, Jonathan Goforth’s wife expressed her anxiety about the state of things. Goforth replied in faith, "Is the Lord not able for this also? Wait and see. He is not going to fail us!” Soon thereafter, they received unexpected donations that would last for three months.
In his old age, Jonathan Goforth’s eyesight was growing dim. One time when they were traveling on a ship, he opened a door that he thought led across the passageway, but actually was at the top of a staircase. An invisible hand pushed him back against the now closed door, preventing him from stepping to empty space and falling down the stairs.
After Dr. Goforth went blind, he received many letters expressing sympathy, including one from his son in-law displaying Christlike empathy and assuring Dr. Goforth that “You are held very precious, so that I rejoice in your triumphs and grieve with you in your sorrows...”
Jonathan Goforth's blindness meant that he would need a proper companion if he was to carry on with God’s work, and that companion would have to be paid. Together with his wife Rosalind, they asked God specifically for a helper for Jonathan and for the requisite funds. God met these needs with a precision that only He could.
Mr. Tung was a Christian who had backslidden and returned to a life of drinking, opium, gambling, etc. But after attending a revival meeting and staying with the Goforths, Mr. Tung was convicted and returned to Christ. He then went home and dedicated his life and resources to winning souls for Christ Jesus, bringing forty entire families into the Kingdom.
The poorest Christian in the Tungliao church, a swineherd, responded to the plea to give toward a plot of land where their church was to be built. He had no money, but thinking, “I cannot give the Lord anything but my best,” he sold his finest pig and gave all the proceeds for this noble cause. His gift was a first-fruit, and soon the church was built debt-free.
Having lived an extraordinary life of service in the King's vineyard, Jonathan Goforth was finally ushered in to meet His Master, face to face. At his funeral, there was “no place for sorrow, only joy and hope and praise.”
In a tender display of love and selflessness, Jonathan Goforth gave up his own overcoat to help keep Pastor Su warm and safe from cold while they were traveling by boat.
Two pastors testify of Mr. Goforth's love and dedication to studying the scriptures, the very source of his spiritual power. Despite already having read the entire Bible several times over, Goforth continued this practice throughout his life. Even after going blind, he found someone to read the Bible to him daily.