On January 19, 1888, the old historic Knox Church was filled to capacity. [At the Goforths’ farewell meeting], one particularly memorable story was told there of a young couple bidding farewell to their home church as they were about to leave for an African field known as “The White Man’s Grave.” The husband said , “My wife and I have a strange dread in going. We feel much as if we were going down into a pit. We are willing to take the risk and to go if you, our home circle, will promise to hold the ropes.” One and all promised.
Less than two years passed when the wife and the little one God had given them succumbed to the dreaded fever. Soon the husband realized his days too were numbered. Not waiting to send word home of his coming, he started back at once and arrived at the hour of the Wednesday prayer meeting. He slipped in unnoticed, taking a back seat. At the close of the meeting he went forward. An awe came over the people, for death was written on his face. He said:
“I am your missionary. My wife and child are buried in Africa and I have come home to die. This evening I listened anxiously, as you prayed, for some mention of your missionary to see if you were keeping your promise, but in vain! You prayed for everything connected with yourselves and your home church, but you forgot your missionary. I see now why I am a failure as a missionary. It is because you have failed to hold the ropes!”
–From Jonathan Goforth, by Rosalind Goforth in the Men of Faith series. P.36,37