This wonderful talk on revival from a student convention shows the mighty way God was working and how the work continued. At the conclusion Goforth states in certain terms that God will bring revival to the western world when the Christians in those countries become serious about getting rid of the sin in their lives.—Dan
I WILL FIRST touch upon that great movement among the Miao Tribes. It is not, properly speaking, a revival; it is a great God-ward movement among those downtrodden tribes. It will no doubt have a mighty effect on China, because these people dwell in four or five of the Southwestern provinces. Perhaps at this time there are nine or ten thousand converts as the result of that movement. The report has come that the Loka tribe has yielded to Christianity. Now these people, from everything we can gather, appear to be thoroughly converted — they show a burning zeal to carry the Gospel to others; they sacrifice to give the Gospel to others, and are wonderfully patient under persecution. We cannot get better proof of conversion than that.
Now God indicates that the pillar of cloud is moving in China and that constitutes a call for us. Another movement which I must speak about is the movement in the churches. In March of 1895, I was talking to some students in the Chinese colleges in Tientsin. I was going up the street one day with Mr. Wang, one of the students. He handed me his visiting card and on it was a text of Scripture. You would not find many of us daring to put a text of Scripture on our visiting cards. “Out of the graduating class of twenty-five,” said he, “we have twenty-three on the Lord’s side, and we are praying for the other two fellows and we hope to get them converted before graduation day.” One of those students whom I saw at that time was Dr. Li, who graduated that year—he was a brother-in-law of the one that gave me the card.
In 1907, I met Dr. Li again; he had been mightily used in the meantime. He got a good start, being filled with the Spirit from the beginning. The last time I heard him‚I cannot describe it, it was truly divine. When he talked to us missionaries about the deep things of God, it was with great delight and proﬁt that we sat at his feet. Now that is one whom God has taken from among these four hundred millions, has filled with His spirit, and has shown to us through him what He can do. But God had another purpose, for He took his servant, in the prime of life, to Himself last summer. There are many others in that land whom God can use as He did Dr. Li.
This is how I came to be used myself. I saw God’s power in a measure, but one verse kept ringing in my ears and would not go — “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto the Father.” I felt that these greater works were not being accomplished in my life, and I could not blame God—I felt that God had made ample provision in the gift of His Son and was only hindered by sin. As I looked into my own life I discovered many things which would grieve God, the Holy Spirit, and there was nothing for it but to get rid of them. Then when I did all I could, God did what He could, and I firmly believe He will give to us all the divine fullness if we just come and get right with Him. I discovered in myself the hindrance — sin. I believe the same hindrance existed in the Church.
I went to Manchuria and in several different centers God showed His wonderful power. At Mukden, for example, I was preaching to about seven hundred or eight hundred people — men, women and children. I was not talking in any excited way at all, I was talking on the spirit of prayer. God seemed to ﬁll the temple.
I saw men and women in an agony of conviction. Now at all those meetings I never ask any one to stand up or to confess. I simply say, “You people have an opportunity to pray.” I leave all in the hands of God. As soon as they commenced to open their mouths they confessed their personal sins, and broke down. About eight or ten did so, and then I noticed an elder — he was a splendid looking fellow in silks and satins — mopping the tears off his face; and he cried out, “I have broken the Seventh Commandment—I have tried three times to poison my wife.” I never expect on this side of judgment itself to see more awful conviction for sin. All around they were crying out and confessing, and the noise was so great it was impossible to hear a word of it. It was God in judgment. And didn’t they get right with God after that! On Friday morning I heard them pray. The native pastor came forward. I had noticed every time during the meetings how the cushion where he knelt was soaked with tears. “We must observe the rules of the Church,” he declared. “If people break them we must discipline them; but oh, if there were only some way of bringing back those backsliders.” Then the seven or eight hundred began to pray for them all at once. It was like the sound of many waters. God heard that prayer and those backsliders came back.
Down in Amanat in my own station of Changte-fu, we held a series of meetings lasting ten days. God one day, like a tempest, swept the girls’ school and then the hundreds in the tent, and next day the boys’ school. On the tenth morning the leaders came to me and said, “The people are weeping their hearts out in their rooms; you will have to start the meeting early.” I went down after breakfast and started that meeting. It continued until 1:30 p. m. I went prepared to preach, but there was such a mighty pressure to get rid of every hindering sin I couldn’t speak. I just had to leave them alone to confess, to testify, to sing, to pray. There wasn’t a servant left unconverted, there wasn’t a male or female in the audience left unmoved by the Almighty God. Down in Han Yang this year God moved them so that they seemed to look into the very wounds of the Cruciﬁed. At Nanking for nine wonderful days last spring we saw the power of God, but especially during the last three days. The last day — that ninth day — was wonderful, indeed. When I went there they decided to have a big mat-pavilion. The Chinese brethren said, “We must put up a big mat-pavilion; we cannot accommodate all in the church—we will trust the Lord for the weather.” So they had a mat shed put up that would seat 1,500, and on the last day hundreds had to be turned away for want of room. For nine days not a drop of rain came, but it started to rain right after the meetings ended. On that last afternoon, the meeting started at ten minutes of three and ended at ten minutes of nine. At any time on that day you might count thirty men, women and children on the platform waiting their turn to confess hindering sins; and though that last meeting continued for six hours, we hadn’t time to hear them all. I saw visions of how these young men and women ﬁlled with the Spirit of God would bear the Cross triumphantly all over Central China. Inspired with their vision of the Holy One—no one could resist them.
Then at Peking the university students had decided that this was all of man, not of God, and they said, “When he comes amongst us and tries to work on our emotions, we won’t shed any tears, nor confess any sins.” On March 28, when about to take the train for London, I said, “Continue the meetings, there is something hindering.” A week after I arrived in London, a letter from Dr. Pyke reached me. He wrote: “The meetings went on until Thursday after you left, and then God broke down all those students. We never witnessed such a scene of judgment.”
We have seen God’s power in many places, and the glory of the whole movement is this, that whenever men and women pass through these meetings, they are ﬁlled with the Spirit of God and carry the movement everywhere. I have been to points in but six different provinces, but this movement has gone to sixteen of the provinces. In the province of Fukien last May many thousands assembled at Hing Hus, and were mightily moved by the Holy Ghost.
What are the sins of which we constantly hear? Of course all of the ten commandments are broken, but that constant cry was, “Oh, my pride!” “My bad temper! Through my bad temper my most loved ones have been hindered!” “Oh, my envy!” “Oh, my selﬁshness!” Ought not we to confess sins?
I verily believe if we would only be willing to pay the price, God would come to this continent as well as to the Asiatic continent. He wants to come here, but we won’t humble ourselves under the hand of Almighty God. It is only sin that keeps God from us. We talk about sending men abroad to lead these people who have got the vision of the Holy One. Are we prepared to go and lead them on to greater heights? There must be a revival among us first. Remember Isaiah got a vision of God and abhorred his sin. Then he saw the altar of sacrifice and the live coal—the ministry of the Holy Spirit—and he was ﬁt to go. And unless we have such a cleansing in our home churches, we shall never send them the right kind of men and the right kind of women, and never shall we send enough of them. What we should do, and what God expects us to do, is to humble ourselves before Him as they did at Pentecost. They took ten days to empty out the hindering sins, and then they were filled. It may take us twenty or thirty days, but it will be time well spent. Then we shall not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ—it will truly be to us the power of God unto salvation. God the Holy Spirit is waiting—He will give you such visions of Jesus Christ, that all the world with its empty glory will have no power over you, and you will be only a willing servant of the Master Jesus Christ.
This is Jonathan’s address before the sixth International convention of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, Rochester, NY, that took place December 29, 1909 to January 2, 1910.