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Jonathan Goforth

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One of the most foremost influential missionaries of the twentieth century was Jonathan Goforth. He was a Canadian missionary to China in the late 1800’s to the early to mid 1900’s. He is known as one of the most famous missionaries of all time to China. This man influenced thousands upon thousands of people in the name of Christ, and only stopped when his body began to fail and he lost his eye sight. He devoted his life to Christ, and because of him millions of people heard the name of Christ and everything that he did for mankind.

Goforth was born in Ontario, Canada on February 10, 1859. When he was a young man he was a teacher, but when he heard his friend, who was a missionary, speak, he felt a call to the mission field. As Goforth was trying to find out where to go to be a missionary, he read Hudson Taylor’s book China’s Spiritual Need and Claims. This book told Goforth of the dire need for missionaries in China, and from then on Goforth was dead set on going to China. Finally, in the year 1888, Jonathan Goforth and his wife, Rosalind Goforth went to China.

The Goforths arrived during the Boxer Rebellion, which was in a very difficult time in the history of China. Because the Goforths were “outsiders” their lives were constantly at risk. In fact, the lives were saved from angry mobs by God, without Him, there is no way they would have survived. The situation got so bad that the Goforths were forced to leave China for a year and head back to Canada. However, Jonathan would not be deterred from his goal, and only focused on his mission more intensely.

When the Goforths arrived back in China it was like the Christianity floodgates had been opened. Originally, converts had only been coming in twos or threes, but when they came back to China they were coming in by dozens. The Goforths went all over Northern China and Manchuria preaching to thousands of people, and the more he preached the more people followed him wherever he went. He even sponsored over a thousand native Christian missionaries with his own money. His affect on the Chinese population was so great that when the Canadian Mission Board went through a financial setback, the Chinese churches sent hundreds of dollars to help alleviate the financial pressure.

During his life Jonathan Goforth devoted everything to Christ. He even lost five of his eleven children because of the sickness that was ever prevalent in China. His life was threatened many times, and his marriage became strained many times. But despite all of these things set against him, he did not falter in his devotion to Christ. Because he did not waver in his love of Christ, endless numbers of people heard the good news of Jesus Christ.

I can see myself being like mister Goforth because he did not stumble in his walk with Christ. I may not see myself going off and being a missionary to a huge nation where I reach millions of people, but I do see myself needing an unwavering that does not flee at the first sight of hardship of danger. I can see myself needing a dedication that is unmatched and unparalleled by average people. With this devotion I can see myself not caring about getting red-faced by people and going out and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ with any and everybody that I come in contact with in my life. All it takes a single spark to a forest fire, and that’s what this desire can be in my life, a single spark. It is this determination that Jonathan Goforth displayed so valiantly in his life, and it is this determination that I hope I can live up to in mine. That is why I chose Jonathan Goforth as my missionary because he had a single goal, and he was not discouraged from his goal.





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