Waves of Repentance


(Continuing from the biographical account of Johnathan Goforth in www.wholesomewords.org)

"Those were days of unprecedented spiritual awakening. As a result, he was deluged with invitations from all parts of China and found himself drawn into a new and far-reaching type of ministry. Rosalind and the five children sailed for Canada and he, a lonely man, separated from his family till his next furlough time, plunged into the greatest work of his life.

One day at the close of his message he said to the people, "You may pray." Immediately an elder of the church, with tears streaming down his cheeks, stood before the congregation and confessed the sins of theft, adultery and attempted murder. "I have disgraced the holy office," he cried. "I herewith resign my eldership." Other elders, then the deacons, arose one by one, confessed their sins and resigned. Then the native pastor stood up, made his confession and concluded, "I am not fit to be your pastor any longer. I, too, must resign." As the Christians confessed their sins and got right with God, large numbers of unbelievers came under deep conviction and were saved. Some of the missionaries were entirely out of sympathy with these revivals. One man said, "Don't expect any such praying and confessing of sins here as took place in Mukden and Liaoyang. We're hard-headed Presbyterians from the North of Ireland and the people take after us. Anyhow, we have respectable people here, not terrible sinners. Be prepared for a quiet Quakers' meeting at this place." But several days later the Pastor and many others sobbed out their confession, the whole congregation did the unheard of thing of getting down on their knees in prayer and there was a mighty turning to God in that place.

Many times there was so much praying and confessing, little or no time was left for the message; even so, the meetings often lasted for three or four or even six hours. At Kwangchow God's Spirit worked mightily; the church was cleansed and edified, one hundred fifty-four converts were baptized during the eight days' meeting and the number of Christians in this city increased in four years from 2,000 to 8,000. At Shangtehfu there was an intense desire on the part of missionaries and Chinese Christians alike for a blessing from Heaven. Long before daylight the pleadings of earnest hearts arose to the throne of grace. One missionary sobbed out his prayer, "Lord, I have come to the place where I would rather pray than eat." In this place five hundred people openly acknowledged Christ as Savior. In a mission school where at first there was much antagonism, scores of boys were brought under the conviction of the Spirit, confessed their sins, accepted Christ and brought a huge pile of pipes, cigarettes and tobacco to be destroyed, also stolen knives and other things to be returned to their rightful owners.

Dr. Walter Philips, who at first was prejudiced against the revival movement, wrote of the meetings at Chinchow,

Now I understood why the floor was so wet -- it was wet with pools of tears. Above the sobbing of hundreds of kneeling penitents, an agonized voice was making pubic confession. Others followed. The sight of men forced to their feet and impelled to lay bare their hearts brought the smarting tears to one's own eyes. And then again would swell the wonderful deep organ tone of united prayers, while men and women, lost to their surroundings, wrestled for peace."

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