Continuing a series about answers to prayer in missionary biographies, today’s entry focuses on a couple of remarkable incidents when folks were prompted to pray for a missionary. The following came from Goforth of China by Rosalind Goforth.
Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth were missionaries to China in the late 1800s and early 1900s. When they first went to China, Jonathan had a terrific struggle with the language, though he put in many hours studying. When he preached, the Chinese would point to his colleague, Mr. Donald McGillivray, and ask him to preach because they couldn’t understand Goforth. Things came to a crisis one day. Jonathan told his wife, “If the Lord does not work a miracle for me with this language, I fear I may be an utter failure as a missionary!” Rosalind writes that he looked heartbroken, then picked up his Bible and started off to the chapel.
Two hours later he returned, saying, “Oh, Rose! It was just wonderful! When I began to speak, those phrases and idioms that would always elude me came readily. The men actually asked me to go on though Donald had risen to speak. I know the backbone of the language is broken! Praise the Lord!”
Rosalind goes on to write, “About two months later, a letter came from Mr. Talling (his former roommate, still in Knox College), saying that on a certain evening after supper, a number of students decided to meet in one of the classrooms for prayer, ‘just for Goforth.’ The letter stated that the presence and power of God was so clearly felt by all at that meeting, they were convinced Goforth must surely have been helped in some way. On looking in his diary, Mr. Goforth found the students’ prayer meeting
Knox coincided with the experience recorded above.”
She goes on to say, “Some years later, Dr. Arthur H, Smith, one of the best speakers and keenest critics of the spoken language, said to Mr. Goforth, ‘Wherever did you get your style of speaking? For any sakes don’t change it! You can be understood over a wider area than anyone I know!’”
In the same book Mrs. Goforth tells of another incident when Mr. Goforth was on furlough. “While in London, he was taken to see an invalid lady. She told Mr. Goforth that when she heard of his proposed meetings in Manchuria, she felt a great burden laid upon her to pray for him. She then asked him to look at her notebook, in which was recorded three dates when a special sense of power in prayer had come upon her for him. A feeling akin to awe came upon Goforth as he recalled those dates as being the very days when he had witnessed the mightiest movements in Manchuria.”