1859 – 1936
“I love those that thunder out the Word. The Christian world is in a dead sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awake them out of it.”Jonathan Goforth was born in Ontario, Canada in 1859. He was reared in a Christian home, although he was not converted until he was 18. He later testified that he had been under so much conviction at age 10 that he would have gladly been saved if someone had only told him how to accept Christ.
While attending college, he was challenged to go to China by reading Hudson Taylor’s book China’s Spiritual Need and Claims.
With his young wife, Rosalind, Mr. Goforth went to China in 1888. He and his wife would have eleven children, five of whom they buried on the field. Language studies proved very difficult to him. At one point he was nearly at the point of despair when, in answer to special prayers from their home church, he began making rapid progress.
During the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, Mr. Goforth and his family repeatedly were miraculously spared by God from the angry mobs. As “foreign devils,” their lives were constantly at risk, and they had to return to Canada for a year.
When they went back to China, God opened the floodgates of blessing on their work. Where converts had come in ones and twos, they now came in dozens and scores. Missionary Goforth traveled across Northern China, Manchuria and Korea, and revival followed everywhere he went.
Hundreds of native Christians were trained as evangelists (and supported with Mr. Goforth’s personal money) and sent out to win souls and start churches. When the Canadian Mission Board suffered a financial setback, the Chinese churches sent hundreds of dollars to Canada to help pay the mission board’s bills!
For the last few years of his life, Jonathan Goforth was blind due to detached retinas. But the work continued to prosper. In his last full year on the field (1934) he had nearly 1,000 adult converts baptized. In 1935 he and his wife returned to Canada where he continued to travel and speak in churches until his death in 1936.
* Photo provided by Stephen Ross, www.wholesomewords.org