Monday, December 5, 2016

Jonathan Goforth-Clinging to Life

By Mary Vee
Year: summer 1889
Jonathan Goforth-30 years old

Jonathan Goforth's Journal

Photo Courtesy Chinese Dai house architecture
with bamboo sides and thatched roof 
My name is Jonathan Goforth. My wife, Rosalind and I are missionaries in China. 

I understand this is the Advent time for you, Reader. A time to remember what God has done for us and taught us. 

What happened to us next in China is the perfect story to tell you during this Advent time.

Rosalind, our baby, Gertrude, and I all climbed in a small boat to travel up river into the north country. We had been warned about the extreme high temperatures, but hadn't realized the days would be this bad. After all, we were on the river where it should be cooler. 

Instead, the humidity increased how hot the heat felt. Gertrude could barely breathe. Babies have a difficult time getting rid of heat because they don't sweat. Rosalind came up with a great idea to make the journey more comfy. "Go into the luggage and find our sheets." 

I sifted through the luggage until I found the sheets. We soaked them in the river water then hung them over our heads. The idea worked. We felt less hot within seconds. The trip up the river took two days. Imagine sitting in a small boat for two days. Yeah, our behinds were pretty sore.

We arrived in Linching and were pleased with the housing that had been prepared for us. The house wasn't completely done, just mostly. Construction workers were in the process of building a wall around the house for privacy. 

I found out that the construction workers didn't want to walk the long distance to the well for fresh water. There was a pond closer that provided water for mortar. With the terrible heat, I could understand why the workers wanted to use the pond water.

That night, an awful stench filled the air. We could hardly breathe. I thought maybe there might be a dead body in the house next door. After checking, we found the smell came from our new house. 

After more investigation, I found the pond was actually an open sewer. Flies were attracted to the area. Exposure to this would make the workers and us sick. I told the workers they couldn't use the pond water for any more of their work and explained the dangers of disease. I told the workers they had to walk for the fresh well water.

Unfortunately, my warning was too late. Many of the workers became ill with dysentery, a horrible disease. A short time later, my sweet little baby girl, Gertrude came down with dysentery. The missionary doctor tried her best to help save Gertrude.

When my wife, Rosalind then became ill with dysentery, I have to admit, I was wild with concern. I was so afraid I would lose both of my girls.

On July, 24, 1889, only twenty days after landing in Linching, and less than a month short of Gertrude's first birthday, our sweet little baby left us to be with Jesus. 

I wept. How I miss my sweet little one. Her curly hair. Her sweet smile. My precious treasure. The loss is so much for me to bear since we are far away in a strange land with no family to comfort us. I hugged my dear wife, Rosalind who still clung to life. 

According to the local laws, there wasn't a place to bury foreigners in Linching. I had to take my baby girl's body back to Pangchwang, a two day boat ride, where she could be buried in the mission cemetery. Rosalind was too ill to come with me. 

I prayed the entire trip back to Linching, asking God to restore health to Rosalind. When I returned....she had some improvement, which is really huge for a person with dysentery.

Thank you, God. Thank you, God.

I will always miss my sweet Gertrude, but know she is safe and cuddled in the arms of Jesus.

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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