Missionaries Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth arrived in China in March 1888. Their assignment to open a new field in the northern section of Honan province was a daunting one. The young couple struggled to learn the language, adjust to the climate and raise a large family in less than desirable surroundings. They met many discouraging challenges, including the death of a child. One day a letter arrived from Hudson Taylor, then a pioneer with China Inland Missions.
He wrote: “We understand North Honan is to be your field; we, as a mission, have tried for ten years to enter that province from the south, and have only just succeeded. It is one of the most anti-foreign provinces in China . . . Brother, if you would enter that province, you must go forward on your knees.”
The Goforths took Taylor’s advice. They prayed with persistence and gained many prayer supporters back home in Canada. In time, they mastered the language. People began responding to the gospel. A female convert showed outstanding gifts for learning and teaching the scriptures. She became Rosalind Goforth’s assistant Bible teacher for women. Years later in How I Know God Answers Prayer, Rosalind wrote of miracles of revival, guidance, healing and comfort. Through the Boxer Rebellion and many other life threatening events, the Goforths proceeded on their knees.
Prayer packs a punch. It sends tremors down the enemy’s spine. It puts courage in the weak-kneed and takes the whine and worry out of life. It resurrects the fallen and revives the discouraged. Only God can open impenetrable doors. Only He can give us courage to face impossible situations. His ear is always tilted toward earth, ready to hear our petitions.
For years, family members fasted and prayed for my father’s salvation but his resistance to the gospel was strong. When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s we thought his was an impossible situation. We didn’t know that God planned to use the illness to weaken Dad’s opposition. He became childlike and passive. A year and a half before his death he confessed his faith in Jesus. God clears our paths of obstacles in unexpected ways when we press forward on our knees.
Go forward on your knees is good advice, not just for missionaries on foreign fields but for ordinary people like you and me.