Monday, August 22, 2016

Jonathan Goforth: Ignorance that Opens Doors

By Mary Vee
Year: summer 1883
Jonathan Goforth-24 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal



Toronto late 1800's - Photo Courtesy
My name is Jonathan Goforth. I will be a missionary to China some day. I feel it deep inside. Until then, I am doing what God shows me to do each day.

Not every experience has been easy. Oh no. In fact...let me tell you what happened that first day at Knox College.

My parents and siblings gave me a great send off. I may have been one of the youngest in the family, but I was the first to go to college. Even Dad and Mom hadn't been to a college. I'm telling you this because none of us knew what I should expect. We were a country/farm family.

I settled into my dorm room. I could tell, just by looking, that the other students came from wealthier families. Their clothes, their hair, the way they walked and talked. None of this bothered me. I liked the country/farm way of living. 

I guess I just assumed none of the other men from my dorm would want to work with the poorest areas of town. When I asked directions to where the needy people lived, the professor warned me of dangers.

What dangers? I honestly didn't have a clue. I mean, I've held my own in fist fights. If someone tried to rob me, I'd hold up my fists to protect myself while telling the robber all about Jesus. The idea seemed quite simple to me.

So with map in hand, I walked to the poor area of Toronto. The neighborhood was called Ward. 

Several blocks away I found the marked area on the map. Men and women sat on front steps, and gathered in groups. I was a bit, okay, a lot surprised at the way they dressed.  The women wore way too much makeup and dresses that would shock my momma. They seemed a bit surprised to see a man in a suit walking their neighbor streets. 

I refused to be afraid. Instead I prayed for God to bless a moment for me to speak with them. These men and women needed to hear about Jesus. 

"Hey, come on over and talk with us," a few shouted at me. They smiled and waved to me.

See there, they were friendly. I knew this would turn out just fine. I walked to the group. We said our hellos then I talked to them about Jesus.

The women seemed interested in what I had to say. After my conversation with these ladies, I walked throughout the very poor neighborhood making plans to visit every home and share the love of Jesus with them.

I walked back to the college, very excited about telling the people who live in Ward about Jesus. I was so excited I told my classmates about my time in Ward. 

They stopped eating and stared at me. "What do you mean?"

These guys had missed a great opportunity for witnessing. I smiled and used both hands as I shared my time in Ward. "The men and women called me over and asked if they could help me with anything."

The guys all laughed. They laughed long and hard at me. What? What had I missed?

One of the guys said, "You country kid. They didn't want to hear about the Gospel, they wanted to sell you things you don't want. Drugs. You know. Things like that."

I felt my face warming. They pointed at me and laughed all the harder at me for not knowing.

I couldn't speak. I was so incredibly embarrassed. How could guys studying to be pastors treat someone like this? It took a long time before the conversation changed to something else. 

I couldn't wait to go back to my room and get away from them.

In my own small room, I thought about the people in Ward. Whether they had bad reasons to invite me over or not didn't matter. I wouldn't give up on them. I would go back and share the love of Jesus with them.

You may be wondering, would I have gone had I know ahead of time that the people of Ward sold drugs and other bad things? 

The answer is, I would go wherever God asks me to go.


Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

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