Jonathan Goforth was born today, Feb. 10, 1859. He was a poor farm boy who missed most of his schooling yet graduated when 18 from high school. He arrived at college in rags and ignorant of city life. He poured himself into his studies and did rescue mission work, door-to-door evangelism, and prison work. By the end of his college training he was highly respected. His formerly cruel classmates raised the money he needed to get to China.
He felt called into evangelism while reading Robert McCheyne's memoirs. He felt called to China after reading J. Hudson Taylor's book on missionary work in China. He tried to join Taylor at the China Inland Mission, but being a Presbyterian, there were doctrinal differences. The two men became fierce rivals in China.
He was characterized as having endless energy and zeal. His strategy was to spend one month in an area evangelizing, find a native evangelist to nurture the new believers and return once a year to check on progress. Several times more than 25,000 would gather to hear him speak.
Just after arriving in China, their hut burned down with everything they had. While in China they buried 5 of their 11 children.
Jonathan was hacked in the back, neck and head with a sword and left to die during the Boxer rebellion. He miraculously survived and fled with his wife the over 1000 miles to get out of China. In 1934, he left China blind and in failing health. He passed away on October 8, 1936, in his homeland of Canada.
My deepest regret, on reaching threescore years and ten, is that I have not devoted more time to the study of the Bible. Still in less than nineteen years I have gone through the New Testament in Chinese fifty-five times.
Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1992
Canton Baptist Temple, Ohio "The Christian Hall of Fame" www.cantonbaptist.org
Christian History Institute. "September 13,1888: Jonathan Goes Forth" www.gospelcom.net/chi/
Dave & Neta Jackson."China's Flaming Preacher" Hero Tales, Vol. III. at http://trailblazerbooks.com
Kevin D. Miller, "Gritty Pioneers" Christian History, Fall 1996.
Uncredited photo from www.wholesomewords.org