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Scripture Memory: Eternal Life.

VERSE : 1 John 5:11,12 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness 

13 September 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Eld Chin Hoong Chor (Changed from Glory to Glory, 2 Cor 3:1-18)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Charles Seet (Who Can Find a Faithful Man? Prov 20:6)

20 September 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Secrets to Endurance, 2 Cor 4:1-18)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Eld Ng Beng Kiong (Clean Hands and Pure Heart? Prov 20:9 & Ps 24:4)

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THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS (Part 12)

(Extracted from Jerusalem to Irian Jaya – A Biographical History of Christian Missions, by Ruth A. Tucker)

Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth

Of all the missionaries who serve in the Orient during the 19th and early 20th centuries, none saw a greater immediate response to his personal ministry than did Jonathan Goforth, who, according to J. Herbert Kane, was “China’s most outstanding evangelist.” China was Goforth’s base, but he also ministered in Korea and Manchuria; and wherever he went, revival followed.

Goforth, the seventh of eleven children, was born in western Ontario in 1859. He was converted at the age of 18 and dedicated himself to the Lord’s service after reading the Memoirs of Robert Murray M’Cheyne.

His call to missions, however, did not come until later, when he was moved by the appeal of Dr George Mackay, a veteran missionary from Formosa. Mackay had traveled “for two years...up and down Canada trying to persuade some young man to come over to Formosa” but as he told his audience all his travels had been in vain, and he had no choice but to return to Formosa without anyone to carry out the work he had begun. Mackay’s message stung the conscience of young Goforth: “As I listened to these words, I was overwhelmed with shame...From that hour I became a foreign missionary.”

In preparation for his ministry, Goforth attended Knox College, where he had expected to find warm Christian fellowship and eager Bible scholars. Instead, the naïve country boy, clad in homemade garments, found himself alone in his dedication to the Lord and in his zeal for missions. He soon became a popular subject of campus humour, especially after he began devoting his time to rescue mission work: but as time went on attitudes changed, and by the time of his graduation, Goforth had become one of the most respected students on campus.

While active in city mission work in the spring of 1885, Goforth met Rosalind Smith, a talented and sophisticated art student – and an unlikely prospect for a missionary wife. But somehow Rosalind looked beyond “the shabbiness of his clothes” and perceived the great potential he had as a servant of God. For her, it was love at first sight: “It all happened within a few moments, but as I sat there, I said to myself, ‘That is the man I would like to marry!’” Later that year they became engaged, and at that time Rosalind got her first taste of the sacrifice she would encounter the rest of her life as the wife of Jonathan Goforth. Her dreams of an engagement ring were dashed when he told her that the money he would have spent for the ring must instead go for Christian literature.

After graduation from Knox College, Goforth applied to the China Inland Mission, since his own church, the Presbyterian Church of Canada, had no missionary work in China. Before he received a response from the CIM, Presbyterian students from Knox rallied to his cause and vowed to raise the money themselves to send him to China.

Prior to his sailing, Goforth traveled through Canada, speaking out for missions. His messages were powerful, and everywhere he went he witnessed changed lives. The testimony of a Knox College graduate regarding Goforth poignantly illustrates this: “I was going up to the Alumni meeting in Knox College, Toronto, determined to do everything in my power to frustrate the crazy scheme which the students of the college were talking about, i.e., starting a mission field of their own in Central China. I also felt that I needed a new overcoat; my old one was looking rather shabby. So I thought I would go to Toronto to kill two birds with one stone. I would help side-track the scheme and buy an overcoat. But this fellow here upset my plans completely. He swept me off my feet with an enthusiasm for missions which I had never experienced before, and my precious overcoat money went into the fund.”

In 1888 the Goforths sailed for China to serve in the province of Honan, where they began a life of hardship and lonely separation. They both suffered frequent illnesses, and they saw five of their eleven children die in childhood. Fire, flood and theft took its toll on their possessions, and on several occasions, they encountered life-threatening situations. The most terrifying trial they faced was their 1,000-mile harrowing flight to safety during the Boxer madness of 1900. Through it all, their vision for lost souls in China never dimmed.

From his early years in China, Goforth was known as a powerful evangelist, sometimes speaking to crowds numbering as many as 25,000. His message was simple: “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Early in his ministry a seasoned missionary advised him not “to speak of Jesus the first time when preaching to the heathen audience” because of the “prejudice against the name of Jesus,” advice that Goforth consistently ignored. A straightforward approach was the only one he knew.

The Goforths’ efforts to reach the Chinese were unconventional by most missionary standards, particularly their “open-house” evangelism. Their home, with its European interior design, and their furnishings (including a kitchen stove, a sewing machine, and an organ) were subjects of intense curiosity to the Chinese people, and the Goforths willingly relinquished their privacy and effectively used their house as a means to make friends and contacts among the people of the province.

Visitors came from miles around, once more than 2,000 in one day, to tour the house in small groups. Before each tour began, Goforth gave a gospel message, and sometimes visitors stayed on after the tour to hear more. He preached an average of eight hours a day, and during a five-month period some 25,000 people came to visit. Rosalind ministered to the women, sometimes speaking to as many as 50 at a time who were gathered in their yard.

It was this type of evangelism that paved the way for Goforth’s future ministry of traveling from town to town conducting revivals, but not all of his colleagues approved: “Some may think that receiving visitors is not real mission work, but I think it is. I put myself out to make friends with the people and I reap the results when I go to their villages to preach. Often the people of the village will gather around me and say, “We were at your place and you showed us through your house, treating us like friends,” Then they almost always bring me a chair to sit on, a table to lay my Bible on, and some tea.”

The Boxer Rebellion in 1900 interrupted the Goforth’s mission work, and after they returned to China their family life radically changed to accommodate Goforth’s new plan for a broad itinerant ministry. He had developed his idea before Rosalind returned from Canada to join him in China, and soon after her arrival he confronted her with his new scheme: “My plan is to have one of my helpers rent a suitable place in a large centre for us to live in, and that we, as a family, stay a month in the centre, during which time we will carry on intensive evangelism. I will go with my men to villages or on the street in the daytime, while you receive and preach to the women in the courtyard. The evenings will be given to a joint meeting with you at the organ and with plenty of gospel hymns. Then at the end of the month, we will leave an evangelist behind to teach the new believers while we go on to another place to open it in the same way.”

As Rosalind listened, her “heart went like lead.” The idea itself was impressive, but it simply was not suited to a family man. Exposing their little ones to the infectious diseases that were so prevalent out in the villages was too risky, and she could not forget the “four little graves” they had already left behind on Chinese soil. Although Rosalind initially objected, Goforth went ahead with his plan, convinced it was God’s will.

While Rosalind fully supported her husband’s dedication to the Lord, she was naturally concerned at times about his dedication to her and the children. Of course God’s will was paramount, but must it be at odds with what was in the best interest of the family? As a wife, she never doubted his love, but she did on occasion feel less than fully secure in her position.

Before she and the children returned to Canada alone in 1908, she probed him concerning his commitment to her: “Suppose I were stricken with an incurable disease in the homeland and had but a few months to live. If we cabled you to come, would you come?” Goforth obviously did not want to answer the question. An outright ‘no’ would have been too harsh, but Rosalind persisted until he gave an answer – in the form of a question to her: “Suppose our country were at war with another nation and I, a British officer in command of an important unit. Much depended upon me as commander as to whether it was to be victory or defeat. Would I, in that event, be permitted to forsake my post in response to a call from my family in the homeland, even if it were what you suggest?” What could she say? She had no choice but to sadly reply, “No.”

The itinerant ministry that Goforth began in the early years of the 20th century was a stepping stone that led to the great revivals he conducted in the years that followed. His revival ministry began in 1907 when he and another missionary toured Korea and inspired the revival movement that swept through the churches there, resulting in an “amazing increase of converts” and a strengthening of the local churches and schools. From Korea they went to Manchuria “with hearts stirred to the depths at what they had been witnessing,” and mighty revivals followed. In his wife’s words, Jonathan Goforth went to Manchuria an unknown missionary....He returned a few weeks later with the limelight of the Christian world upon him.

As he traveled through China and Manchuria in the years that followed, Goforth’s revival ministry mushroomed. Some of his colleagues and supporters back home were wary of his evangelistic zeal. They were uncomfortable hearing reports of weeping and confession of sin and of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and some charged that it was a movement of “fanaticism” and “Pentecostalism.” Goforth ignored the criticism and kept on preaching.

One of the high points of his revival ministry was in 1918 when he held a two-week campaign with Chinese soldiers under the command of General Feng Yu-Hsiang, himself a Christian. The response was overwhelming, and at the end of the campaign nearly 5,000 soldiers and officers took part in a communion service.

Along with his success, Goforth faced setbacks and problems. One problem Goforth faced involved his own mission board. He regarded the “Holy Spirit’s leading” above the “hard and fast rules” of the Presbytery under which he served, and thus, according to his wife, “with his convictions concerning Divine guidance of himself, he naturally came often into conflict with other members of the Honan Presbytery,” making him “not easy to get along with.” Goforth did not demand special privileges for himself, but rather insisted that each missionary should have “freedom to carry on his or her work as each one felt led.” It was a knotty problem, and Goforth often “found himself hampered and held back from following fully what he deemed was for him the Holy Spirit’s leading.”

As Goforth served over the years in China, his problems did not diminish. Confrontations continued and friction increased particularly in the 1920s when the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, that was tearing churches apart in his homeland, found its way to China. New missionaries, steeped in higher criticism, were arriving on the field, and Goforth “felt powerless to stem the tide.” His only recourse was to “preach, as never before, salvation through the cross of Calvary and demonstrate its power...”

Long after most missionaries had succumbed to disease or gone into retirement, Goforth, at 73, kept up his hectic pace of revival meetings. Even after being stricken with blindness he continued his ministry, aided by a Chinese assistant. At the age of 74 he returned to Canada, where he spent the last 18 years of his life traveling and speaking at nearly 500 meetings. He carried on to the very end, speaking four times on the Sunday before he peacefully died in his sleep. He left behind a striking testimony of what one man could do for God among the teeming millions of the Orient.

(To be continued)

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Life Church 65th Anniversary & Chinese Service 50th Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner
Ban Heng Pavilion Restaurant, #04-01 HarbourFront Centre
Saturday, 17 Oct 2015, 6.30 pm

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at the church entrance today and from the church office during the week. Charges: $30 for adults (age 13 & above); $10 for child buffet (age 5 to 12). As tickets have specific table numbers, groups purchases must be highlighted to ensure they have the same table numbers.

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1) Devotional by Rev James Smith, Vol 4 (Oct - Dec 2015). Available at the front counter. The same devotions are available online at http://www.lifebpc.com/devotions.

Preaching appointments: Rev Wong at Life Chinese Service, 11.00 am. Rev Quek at Thai Service, 2.30 pm.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11