Knox College, Toronto
o Mission work in the Toronto slums
During his college days, Jonathan’s passion for lost souls took him to the slum areas of Toronto. In between his studies, he spent his free time preaching the Gospel to the poor and needy.
In her book, Goforth of China, Mrs Rosalind Goforth tells of how Jonathan’s persistence gained him entry into homes: “His strategy was to knock at a door, and when it opened a few inches, he would put his foot in the crack. He would then tell them his business and if, as was usually the case, they said they were not interested and went to close the door, his foot prevented the proceedings from being brought to an abrupt end. As he persisted, the people of the house almost invariably gave way and let him in.”
Once, when the college semester opened, the principal wanted to know how many homes Jonathan had visited during the summer vacation. His prompt reply: “Nine hundred and sixty!”
Such was Jonathan’s evangelistic zeal that he even went to preach in the prisons, bar saloons and brothels. “One night as he was coming out of a street that had a particularly evil reputation, a policeman met him and said, ‘How have you the courage to go into those places? We policemen never go there except in twos or threes.’
‘I never walk alone, either,’ replied Goforth. ‘There is always Someone with me.’” (Goforth of China – Mrs Rosalind Goforth). The ministry among these hardened sinners was difficult, but fruitful. Not a few broken, disreputable persons were won to Christ.
During his years in college and throughout his slum work, Jonathan learnt to trust God fully. He was often down to his last penny, but God always proved faithful. Like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor, Jonathan looked to the Lord for all his needs.
Another lesson he learnt was to seek God’s guidance in every situation. Once, he was scheduled to speak at a particular place on Sunday. He realised that he had only enough money for a ticket which would take him one station short of where he was to speak. After praying for God’s guidance, Jonathan decided to buy the ticket and walk the remaining ten miles to his destination. But when he had covered eight miles, he saw a group of workmen repairing the road. Engaging them in friendly conversation, he spoke of the only “name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4: 12), and invited them to the service the following day.
To his great joy, some of the men turned up and at least one of them made a decision for Christ. “In referring to this later he would say, “I would gladly walk ten miles any day to bring one lost soul to Christ.” Jonathan was indeed a missionary long before he reached China. It was said of him, “When he found his own soul needed Jesus Christ, it became a passion with him to take Jesus Christ to every soul.”
o God’s provision
After a few years, the time came for Jonathan to graduate from Knox College. He was looking forward to that happy day. But Jonathan had a burden in his heart. While his classmates were rushing to make their graduation suits, he had no money to make a suit for himself. He could not ask his parents for money as his family was poor.
Jonathan decided to bring this need before God. Earnestly, he prayed for the provision of a graduation suit. He remembered the promises in the Bible such as: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philp 4: 19).
One day, while walking down the street, he heard someone calling him: “Hey, Jonathan! I have been looking for you! Please come in.” It was Mr Berkinshaw, the head of a well-known tailoring establishment, who had been standing outside his shop.
When Jonathan entered the shop, Mr Berkinshaw showed him a black suit of the finest quality and asked him to try it on. Jonathan objected: “I can’t afford this expensive suit.” But the tailor insisted that he try it. The suit fitted him perfectly.
Mr Berkinshaw asked Jonathan: “Are you too proud to accept it as a gift? I am giving it to you.” He then explained: “A customer ordered the suit but he was not happy with it and left it with me.” Realising that God had answered his prayer, Jonathan humbly and gratefully accepted the gift. (… to be continued)
– Sis Helen Wee
(Unless otherwise stated, all quotations are from www.wholesomewords.org/missions/giants/bgoforth.html and Goforth of China by Mrs Rosalind Goforth).