Monday, September 5, 2016

Jonathan Goforth-Prisons and Bullies

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.

The bullying didn't stop with the incident I told you about last week. The other guys in the dorm saw I was different. I was poor and from the country. To them I had no right to be at Knox College. After all, who would listen to someone like me talk about Jesus.

Every night the guys cornered me and tried their best to embarrass me. When they finished they shoved me into my room, shut my door, and left laughing. I flopped on my bed and cried then picked up my Bible and waited for God to comfort me. 

I had this feeling in my heart. It was so strong. God wanted me to stay, do my studies, and prepare for the mission field. I tried my best to avoid the dorm. I joined the staff at the William Street Mission and helped the poor. I listened, gave food and clothing, and shared the good news of a loving God to the homeless.

Late each night, I returned to my dorm. The guys on my floor seemed to wait for me. Before I had a chance to put my things down they cornered me and bullied me.

The first semester went by and my grades were good. I found a prison not far away and wanted to tell the men about the God who loves them. At first the warden didn't trust me. I don't blame him. He'd never met me before. But he liked the idea of the prisoners having a chance to hear someone speak.

At first the warden kept the men in their cells. He allowed me to stand on floor above and shout out to the long row of cells below. I couldn't see any of the men, but their hushed voices proved they heard my preaching. After a few weeks, the warden came to me. "You're doing a fine job, Goforth. You can have permission to walk along the corridor and speak to the men individually if you want."

If I want? Was he kidding? Of course I wanted. I started that day. I walked to each cell and opened a conversation with each man. One snapped at me. "Get out. There isn't any God."

The prisoners around his cell cheered and encouraged their cellmate to say more. I had prepared for such a time as that. I said, "How odd that you would say those very words. This book in my hand." I held it up. "It talks about you."

The prisoner laughed and walked back to his bunk. He plopped down. "What does your book say about me?"

I turned to Psalm 14 and read, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God."

The mocking stopped. None of the men around said a word. I took the opportunity to explain the verse to them, all of the men who were in listening range. I went cell to cell to those who heard me and answered their question. Their faces showing interest and hunger to learn more. Some wept. Some hardly spoke. Some asked questions. They all wanted to know how to accept Jesus as their Savior.

That night when I returned to the dorm the bullies asked me what I did that day, like they had every other night. When I told them what happened at the prison they still picked on me...but a little less. It was like, they started to respect me and the commitment to share the good news of the God who loves with the poor and imprisoned.  

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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