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Jonathan Goforth signature on card
Jonathan Goforth was the first Canadian Presbyterian missionary to China with the Canadian Presbyterian Mission, with his wife, Rosalind (Bell-Smith) Goforth. Jonathan Goforth became the foremost missionary revivalist in early 20th century China and helped to establish revivalism as a major element in Protestant China missions. t is said of him that "when he found his own soul needed Jesus Christ, it became a passion with him to take Jesus Christ to every soul."
Jonathan Goforth, the seventh of eleven children, was born February 10, 1859 on his father's farm near London, Ontario. He grew up on an Oxford County, Ontario farm, the seventh of eleven children. As a young man he taught school in Thamesford, Ontario. Hearing fellow-Oxford County native George Leslie Mackay, Presbyterian missionary to Taiwan, speak, he claimed to sense a call from God to go to China. He attended University of Toronto, and Knox College, where he graduated in 1887, and was awarded the Doctor of Divinity in 1915. During his training, Goforth met Rosalind Bell-Smithat the Toronto Union Mission. She had been born in London, England, and had grown up in Montreal. They married in 1887, in his final year at Knox, and eventually had eleven children, six of whom survived childhood. Goforth was greatly supported by his classmates to become an overseas missionary. He had also read the book by Hudson Taylor: China's Spiritual Need and Claims, a book that he ordered many copies of and mailed them to many pastors that he knew to promote missionary work in China. The Goforths were sent to pioneer the North Henan mission in 1888. Their work was difficult and they lost five of eleven children to sickness.
In 1900, the Goforths had to flee for many miles across China during the Boxer Rebellion. Jonathan was attacked and injured with a sword, but they both survived and escaped to the safety of one of the "Treaty Ports" The Goforths returned to Canada for a year. After their return to Henan in 1901, Jonathan Goforth felt increasingly restless. In 1904 and 1905 he was inspired by news of the great Welsh revival and read Charles Finney's "Lectures on Revivals". In 1907, circumstances brought him to witness firsthand the stirring Korean revival ("When the Spirit's Fire Swept Korea"  represents his response). As he returned to China through Manchuria, congregations invited him back in early 1908. During this extended visit there occurred the unprecedented "Manchurian revival". It was the first such revival to gain nationwide publicity in China as well as international repute.m The revival transformed Goforth's life and ministry; from then on he was primarily an evangelist and revivalist, not a settled missionary. He also became one of the best known of all China missionaries, admired by many, but criticized by some for "emotionalism."
In 1925, he decided to remain within the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and his Henan station was transferred to the support of the United Church of Canada. He and Rosalind, despite their age and frailities, were then sent by the PCC to begin work in Manchuria, where they remained until his eyesight failed in 1935. Goforth remained active into the 1930s, especially in Manchuria; in 1931 the Goforths coauthored "Mirac|e Lives of China".