"The answer to this prayer, as is often the case, depended largely upon ourselves. We had to be made willing to pay the price that the answer demanded. We came to see that in order that our prayer could be answered we would have to keep open house every day and all day, which was by no means easy."
During the first two or three years at Chang Te Fu we lived in unhealthy Chinese houses, which were low and damp. It was therefore thought best that we should have a good semi-foreign house built for us. The work at this time was so encouraging — converts being added weekly, and sometimes almost daily — that we feared lest the new house would hinder the work, and become a separating barrier between ourselves and the people. We therefore prayed that God would make the new house a means of reaching the people — a blessing, and not a hindrance. The answer to this prayer, as is often the case, depended largely upon ourselves. We had to be made willing to pay the price that the answer demanded. We came to see that in order that our prayer could be answered we would have to keep open house every day and all day, which was by no means easy.
We decided from the first that no one should be turned from our doors. Mr. Goforth received the men in the front guest room, while the women and children came to our private quarters.
Jonathan announced he would admit 150 at a time, but before he could stope them, 500 would crowd in.
During those ﬁrst weeks and months hundreds, nay thousands, crowded to see us. Day by day we were literally besieged. Even at mealtime our windows were banked with faces.
The question ever before us those days were — how to make the most of this wonderful opportunity, which would never come again after the period of curiosity was past; how to win the friendship of this people who showed in a hundred ways their hatred and distrust of us; how to reach their hearts with our wonderful message of a Saviour’s love? All that was in our power was to do, day by day, what we could with the strength that was given to us. From early morning till dark, sometimes nine or ten hours a day, the strain of receiving and preaching to these crowds was kept up. My husband had numbers of workmen to oversee, material for building to purchase, and to see to all the hundred and one things so necessary in building up a new station. Besides all this he had to receive and preach to the crowds that came. He had no evangelist, Mr. Wang being then lent to Mr. MacG—-. I had my three little children, and no nurse or Bible woman. When too exhausted to speak any longer to the courtyard of women, I would send for my husband, who though tired out would speak in my stead. Then we would rest ourselves and entertain the crowd by singing a hymn.
"The climax in numbers was reached in the spring of 1899, when 1,835 men and several hundred women were received by us in one day."
What complicated the visiting was that visitors stole anything they could lay their hands on and slipped it up their big sleeves.
The climax in numbers was reached in the spring of 1899, when 1,835 men and several hundred women were received by us in one day. These were first preached to in large bands, and then led through the house. We have seen evidences of the good of this plan in all parts of our field. It opened the hearts of the people toward us, and helped us to live down suspicion and distrust as nothing else could have done.
The "open door" policy enabled them to win over the people, who would later say, "We were at your house, and you showed us through your house and treated us like we were your friends!" The people would bring out their chairs for Jonathan to sit on.—From How I Know God Answers Prayer with some adaptation.