We kept praying that the Lord would give us converts from the very beginning. We had heard of missionaries in India, China, and elsewhere, who had worked for many years without gaining converts; but we did not believe that this was God’s will for us. We believed that it was His pleasure and purpose to save men and women through His human channels, and why not from the beginning? So we kept praying and working and expecting converts, and God gave them to us. The experience of thirty years has conﬁrmed this belief.
Space permits the mention of but two of these earliest converts.
The ﬁrst was Wang Feng-ao, who came with us into Honan as Mr. Goforth’s personal teacher. He was a man of high degree, equal to the Western M.A., and was one of the proudest and most overbearing of Confucian scholars. He despised the missionaries and their teaching, and so great was his opposition that he would beat his wife every time she came to see us or listen to our message. But Mr. Goforth kept praying for this man, and using all his inﬂuence to win him for Christ.
Before many months passed a great change had come over Mr. Wang; his proud, overbearing manner had changed, and he became a humble, devout follower of the lowly Nazarene. God used a dream to awaken this man’s conscience — as is not uncommon in China. One night he dreamed he was struggling in a deep, miry pit; but try as he would he could find no way of escape. When about to give up in despair, he looked up and saw Mr. Goforth and another missionary on the bank above him, with their hands stretched out to save him. Again he sought for some other way of escape; but finding none, he allowed them to draw him up.
This man, later on, became Mr. Goforth’s most valued evangelist. For many years his splendid gifts were used to the glory of his Master in the work among the scholar class in the Changtefu district. He has long since passed to his reward, dying as he had lived, trusting only in the merit of Jesus Christ for salvation.
Another of the bright glints in the darkness of those earliest days in Honan was the remarkable conversion of Wang Fu- Lin.
For many years his business had been that of a public storyteller; but when Mr. Goforth came across him he was reduced to an utter wreck through opium smoking. He accepted the Gospel, but for a long time seemed too weak to break off the opium habit. Again and again he tried to do so, but failed hopelessly each time.
The poor fellow seemed almost past hope, when one day Mr. Goforth brought him to the mission in his cart. The ten days that followed can never be forgotten by those who watched Wang Fu-Lin struggle for physical and spiritual life. I verily believe nothing but prayer could have brought him through. At the end of the ten days the power of the opium was broken, and Wang Fu-Lin came out of the struggle a new man in Christ Jesus.
“When I first went to China I expected people to be saved very soon, and before I could speak any Chinese at all God was pleased to give me the joy of seeing two accept Christ. By the time that year was over I had been so much under the influence of older and wiser men, who thought that a very gradual process of education was necessary before the heathen could be expected to become Christians, that I had ceased to expect instantaneous conversions; and for two or three years I was not disappointed, for I did not see any.”