Jonathan And Rosalind Goforth In China (Part 2)
By Rosalind Goforth
In this series of articles a pioneer missionary wife and mother tells of the faithfulness of God to hear and to answer prayer during the very difficult days at the end of the 19th century when China was being opened to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We kept praying that the Lord would give us converts from the very beginning. We had heard of missionaries in India, China, and elsewhere, who had worked for many years without gaining converts. But we did not believe that this was God’s will for us. We believed that it was His pleasure and purpose to save men and women through His human channels, and why not from the beginning? So we kept praying and working and expecting converts, and God gave them to us. The experience of thirty years has confirmed this belief.
Space permits the mention of but two of these earliest converts.
The first was Wang Feng-ao, who came with us into Honan as Mr. Goforth’s personal teacher. He was a man of high degree, equal to the Western M.A., and was one of the proudest and most overbearing of Confucian scholars. He despised the missionaries and their teaching, and so great was his opposition that he would beat his wife every time she came to see us or listen to our message. But Mr. Goforth kept praying for this man, and using all his influence to win him for Christ.
Before many months passed a great change had come over Mr. Wang. His proud, overbearing manner had changed, and he became a humble, devout follower of the lowly Nazarene.
God used a dream to awaken this man’s conscience – as is not uncommon in China. One night he dreamed he was struggling in a deep, miry pit, but try as he would he could find no way of escape. When about to give up in despair, he looked up and saw Mr. Goforth and another missionary on the bank above him with their hands stretched out to save him. Again he sought for some other way of escape, but finding none, he allowed them to draw him up.
This man, later on, became Mr. Goforth’s most valued evangelist. For many years his splendid gifts were used to the glory of his Master in the work among the scholar class in the Changtefu district. He has long since passed to his reward, dying as he had lived, trusting only in the merit of Jesus Christ for salvation.
Another of the bright glints in the darkness of those earliest days in Honan was the remarkable conversion of Wang Fu-Lin. For many years his business had been that of a public storyteller, but when Mr. Goforth came across him he was reduced to an utter wreck through opium smoking. He accepted the Gospel, but for a long time seemed too weak to break off the opium habit. Again and again he tried to do so, but failed hopelessly each time.
The poor fellow seemed almost past hope, when one day Mr. Goforth brought him to the mission in his cart. The ten days that followed can never be forgotten by those who watched Wang Fu-Lin struggle for physical and spiritual life. I verily believe nothing but prayer could have brought him through. At the end of the ten days the power of opium was broken, and Wang Fu-Lin came out of the struggle a new man in Christ Jesus.
Man’s Extremity God’s Opportunity
In all the cases of divine healing cited in this record it will be noted that God healed in answer to prayer either when the doctors had done all in their power and hope had been abandoned, or when we were out of reach of medical aid.
Soon after coming, Hunter Corbett, one of the most devoted and saintly of God’s missionaries, gave a testimony which later was used of God to save the writer from giving up service in China and returning home to Canada.
Dr. Corbett said that for fifteen years he had been laid aside every year with that terrible scourge of the East – dysentery, and the doctors at last gave a definite decision that he must return at once to the homeland and forsake China. But, said the grand old man: "I knew God had called me to China, and I also knew that God did not change. So what could I do? I dared not go back on my call; so I determined that if I could not live in China I could die there; and from that time the disease lost its hold on me."
This testimony was given over twenty-five years ago, when he had been almost thirty years in China! In January 1920, when well-nigh ninety years of age, this beloved and honored saint of God passed to higher service.
For several years I had been affected just as Dr. Corbett had been, and each year the terrible disease seemed to be getting a firmer hold upon me. At last, one day my husband brought me the decision of the doctors, that I should return home. And as I lay there ill and weak, the temptation to yield came. But as I remembered Dr. Corbett’s testimony and my own clear call, I felt that to go back would be to go against my own conscience. I therefore determined to do as Dr. Corbett had done – leave myself in the Lord’s hands – whether for life or for death. This happened more than twenty years ago, and since then I have had very little trouble from that dread disease.
Yes, the deeper the need, and the bitterer the extremity, the greater the opportunity for God to show forth His mighty power in our lives, if we but give Him a chance by unswerving obedience at any cost. "In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul" (Psa. 138:3).
During our fourth year in China, when we were spending the hot season at the coast, our little son, eighteen months old, was taken very ill with dysentery. After several days’ fight for the child’s life there came the realization one evening that the angel of death was at hand.
My whole soul rebelled. I actually seemed to hate God. I could see nothing but cruel injustice in it all, and the child seemed to be going fast. My husband and I knelt down beside the little one’s bedside, and he pleaded earnestly with me to yield my will and my child to God. After a long and bitter struggle God gained the victory, and I told my husband I would give my child to the Lord. Then my husband prayed, committing the precious soul into the Lord’s keeping.
While he was praying I noticed that the rapid, hard breathing of the child had ceased. Thinking my darling was gone, I hastened for a light, for it was dark. But on examining the child’s face I found that he had sunk into a deep, sound, natural sleep, which lasted most of the night. The following day he was practically well of the dysentery.
To me it has always seemed that the Lord tested me to almost the last moment. Then, when I yielded my dearest treasure to Him and put my Lord first, He gave back the child.
– Taken from God Answers Prayer by Rosalind Goforth.