The following incident occurred while we were still outside Honan, studying the language at a sister mission. It illustrates the importance of prayer from the home base for those on the field.

My husband was finding great difficulty in acquiring the language; he studied faithfully many hours daily, but made painfully slow progress. He and his colleague went regularly together to the street chapel, to practise preaching in Chinese to the people; but, though Mr. Goforth had come to China almost a year before the other missionary, the people would ask the latter to speak instead of Mr. Goforth, saying they understood him better.

One day, just before starting as usual for the chapel, my husband said: ‘If the Lord does not give me very special help in this language I fear I shall be a failure as a missionary’.

Some hours later he returned, his face beaming with joy. He told me that he realized most unusual help when his turn came to speak; sentences came to his mind as never before; and not only had he made himself understood, but some had appeared much moved, coming up afterward to have further conversation with him. So delighted and encouraged was he with this experience that he made a careful note of it in his diary.

Some two months and a half later a letter came from a student in Knox College, saying that on a certain evening a number of students had met specially to pray for Mr. Goforth. The power of prayer was such, and the presence of God so manifestly felt, that they decided to write and ask Mr. Goforth if any special help had come to him at that time. Looking in his diary, he found that the time of their meeting corresponded with that time of special help in the language.


‘I cannot tell why there should come to me

A thought of some one miles and years away,

In swift insistence on the memory,

Unless there is a need that I should pray.

We are too busy to spare thought

For days together of some friends away;

Perhaps God does it for us – and we ought

To read his signal as a sign to pray.

Perhaps just then my friend has fiercer fight,

A more appalling weakness, a decay

Of courage, darkness, some lost sense of right;

And so, in case he needs my prayers – I pray’.



Rosalind Goforth (Mrs Jonathan Goforth)

Missionary in China


From Rosalind Goforth, How I know God answers prayer, Philadelphia, The Sunday School Times Company, 1921, pages 16-18


Rosalind Goforth (1864-1942):

Rosalind Bell-Smith Goforth was born near London, England, and moved with her parents to Montreal, Canada, three years later. Her Dad was an artist, and Rosalind graduated from the Toronto School of Art in 1885. In 1887 she married Jonathan Goforth. They served together as missionaries in China and Manchuria. They were married for forty-nine years and had eleven children (Gertrude, Donald, Paul, Florence, Helen, Grace, Ruth, William, [Amelia] Constance, Mary, and [John] Frederick), five of whom died as babies or very young children. She was the author of How I Know God Answers Prayer (1921), her husband's biography, Goforth of China (1937), and Climbing: Memoirs of a Missionary's Wife (1940).