“In all things seek to know God’s Will and when known obey at any cost.” ~ Jonathan Goforth

The following excerpt is from Westside Bible Chapel Mission Stories Titled: THE STORY OF JONATHAN GOFORTH


Jonathan Goforth was born on 10th February 1859 in London, Ontario.

His mother was a devout Christian who taught him how to pray, read and memorize scripture from an early age. Theirs was a humble family — his father sometimes had to walk a long distance to get food for the family.

Despite the difficult circumstances, Jonathan managed to keep up with his education while at the same time working on the farm each year between the months of April and October. At the age of 15, he was given the responsibility of being in charge of the family land, which happened to be 20 miles away from the farm where they lived.


Jonathan’s father was well pleased with the good work that he did taking care of the farm. He completed high school at the age of 18 and came under Reg Lachlan Cameron, who was a minister of the gospel. One day he attended Rev. Cameron’s Church, and the Word of God ministered to him at the point of his need. He was brought to conviction and gave his life to Christ.

“Seek each day to do or say something to further Christianity among the heathen.” ~ Jonathan Goforth

He became an active growing Christian and started giving out tracts to people inviting them to come to church. Later he began a Sunday evening service in an old schoolhouse not very far from his home and started the practice of family worship. He prayed earnestly for his father’s salvation, and not long after that, his father publicly gave his life to the Lord.


His early Christian life was not an easy one as he was mocked and jeered by both his fellow students and some of the teachers. This pushed him to spend a lot of time in the word of God, and as a result, his faith was firmly established.

With time, Jonathan’s classmates and teacher were brought back to the ways of God. The Memoirs of Robert Murray M’Cheyne also had a powerful impact on Jonathan’s life.

“Seek to give much—expect nothing.” ~ Jonathan Goforth

One day he attended a meeting where George L. Mackay of Formosa spoke about the need to reach the heathen world with the gospel. He said how he had been going around seeking missionary reinforcement but had found none. As Jonathan heard this, he was so moved and captivated and right away decided to become a foreign missionary.


Not long after, he left his home to go to Knox Christian College in Toronto. His reception there was not as good, and he was humiliated because of the clothes he was wearing. But this did not kill the desire in him to take the gospel to the needy around him.

He ministered continuously in the jails and homes in the slums. Later the students of Knox College sent him as a missionary to China.
“Who am I that I should urge these missionaries to confess their sins in public, when, for all I know, they may be living nearer to God than I am?

“The Spirit of God does not need me to act as His detective.” ~ Jonathan Goforth

This demonstrates the power of his Christian character. At one point, as college was opening, the principal asked him how many homes he had visited during the summer vacations, and he said 960.

He was able to lead very many souls to Christ. Many are the times that he would walk long distances in order to bring one soul to Christ. He would go to any length to share the word with sinners, including entering salons, brothels, etc. Most of those who knew him closely said, “He walked in the power of the Holy Spirit.”


During his missionary work in Toronto, he met Rosalind Bell-Smith, who was Episcopalian. She was born again and also longed to live a life of service to God. Not long from their first meeting, they got married in 1887.

Goforth also visited many churches to talk with them about and get support towards missionary work in China. His desire and fire for missions melted thousands. In 1888, Jonathan and Rosalind sailed to China under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

They first settled at Chefoo, and his appointed co-worker, James Frazer Smith, was able to join him a few months later. Within two weeks of Smith’s arrival, Goforth and Smith began to tour the North Honan region of China, where they intended to work, and took time to assess the entire region. Together they traveled over 1,200 miles during their 2½ month tour and observed the Chinese in their home environment. By December of that year, more missionaries arrived, and within no time, they had four workers busy translating and preaching.


Jonathan Goforth was very successful in planting Churches and was greatly associated with revival among Korean Christians in the early 1900 and with the revival in Manchuria in 1909. Presbyterians, however, dismissed him; and Goforth, Rosalind, and their five children became missionary gypsies, preaching across China with no fixed abode.

Never let a day pass without at least a quarter of an hour spent in the study of the Bible ~ Jonathan Goforth

Read More about Jonathan and His Wife Rosalind Forth here:

Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth