While visiting in Scotland a couple of months ago my wife Leeta and I had the privilege of meeting two faithful Scottish pastors (and one of their wives). As an evangelical pastor myself, I have a definite affinity and appreciation for fellow evangelical ministers who are faithfully serving the Lord and His people. Though my interaction with these two brother pastors was only brief, I wanted to share the blessing that meeting them was to us.

While visiting Glasgow Cathedral (also called the High Kirk of Glasgow) we met two very helpful tour guides, Rev. David Easton and Mr. Bill Lintoft. They answered our questions about the cathedral and a number of its features.

Vance with Rev. David Easton and Mr. Bill Lintoft
Vance with Rev. David Easton and Mr. Bill Lintoft

For some forty years, David Easton served as a minister in the Church of Scotland, serving two long pastorates in the Glasgow area. Recently, in his (partial) retirement, David served for two years as the interim minister at Glasgow Cathedral, until that congregation of about 300 people called its next full-time resident pastor.

Glasgow Cathedral
Glasgow Cathedral

The Church of Scotland has around 1,350 congregations. Like a number of church denominations in America, the Church of Scotland has embraced liberalism in various theological and social-moral issues in recent decades. Faithful evangelical ministers like David Easton are rightly grieved over that decline in their denomination and have been led of God to continue steadfastly promoting sound doctrinal and moral truth in the Church of Scotland. May the Lord encourage and strengthen them as they do so, and use them to have a positive leavening influence in the congregations and ministry circles in which they serve.

The one Sunday we were in Scotland we worshiped at the Fearn Free Church in Hilton, a small seaside town on the western edge of the Moray Firth in the Scottish Highlands. That congregation is part of the Free Church of Scotland, one of several smaller thoroughly-evangelical denominations that faithfully proclaim God’s inerrant Word and the Christian Gospel in Scotland.

Vance & Leeta at Fearn Free Church of Scotland
Vance & Leeta at Fearn Free Church of Scotland

 Our hearts were blessed by the beautiful Psalm-singing we heard and the welcoming individuals we met at that church. In addition, we appreciated the capable public ministry of Rev. Andrew MacLeod, the congregation’s young minister, who presented the Scripture reading, pastoral prayer, and sermon in the worship service. Andrew is in his second or third year of pastoral ministry.

Rev. Andrew MacLeod ministering at Fearn Free Church
Rev. Andrew MacLeod ministering at Fearn Free Church

After the morning worship service Andrew’s newlywed wife, Eilidh, invited us to their home for Sunday dinner. We requested, instead, the privilege of hosting them out to dinner at a restaurant. While Andrew finished up some further ministerial responsibilities at church, Eilidh invited us to join her at their home until he was available. As circumstances turned out, Andrew wasn’t able to join us for quite some time, during which period Eilidh went ahead and prepared a lovely dinner, which the four of us enjoyed together when Andrew returned home.

Andrew and Eilidh MacLeod ministering in their home
Andrew and Eilidh MacLeod ministering in their home

We felt somewhat bad about imposing on this young couple in the midst of the full weekend of ministry responsibilities they were carrying out. But, though we were complete strangers to them, they extended warm, gracious hospitality to us. We were further blessed to hear their Christian testimonies and to perceive their earnest desire to actively, appropriately serve Christ and His followers. Their youthful willingness and diligence in service reminded us of our own early years of ministry, and also how that we want to continue to serve with those commendable qualities throughout our ministry career.

Andrew and Eilidh MacLeod, along with David Easton, present attractive pictures of willing, active and faithful service of Jesus our Savior, both early in adulthood and clear through to the end of one’s ministerial career and life. They are positive examples for vocational and lay ministers alike. 

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Hundreds of consecrated Christian missionaries went out from Scotland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most of them faithfully, capably served Christ Jesus in relative obscurity. Some of them gained a degree of eminence for their sacrificial, fruitful service.

Scotland’s preeminent missionary was David Livingstone (1813-1873). In addition to his consecrated missionary service, he explored a vast region of southcentral Africa which had been previously unknown to Europeans. He opened the way for Christianity (of first importance) and commerce (of secondary importance) to be introduced throughout that immense area. He also played a primary role in exposing the evils of and helping bring an end to the slave trade in that part of Africa.

I’m currently writing a comprehensive biography of Livingstone’s life and ministry. So when my wife Leeta and I recently visited Scotland, one of the places I was most looking forward to visiting was the David Livingstone Centre and Birthplace Museum in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire (a fourteen-mile drive from Glasgow). The museum has extensive displays and items relating to Livingstone’s upbringing and career. But unfortunately I had somehow overlooked the fact that the museum is currently closed for major renovations.

David Livingstone Centre & Museum in Blantyre, Scotland

We ended up investing the day which we had intended to spend at that museum, instead, in seeing some of the sights in Glasgow. While doing so we unexpectedly came across two significant indications of the high esteem in which Livingstone came to be held in Scotland. The first instance of this was at Glasgow’s Saint Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. There the one modest display we found concerning “Missions and Missionaries” prominently featured David Livingstone.

“Missions and Missionaries” display in St. Mungo Museum

Though I’m not at all a proponent of religious relics, it was a treat for me to see a copy of the Bible Livingstone used during his first decade of service in Africa, as well as the trademark consular cap with gold band which he characteristically wore throughout his exploring years.

David Livingstone’s Bible from early years of service in Africa.
David Livingstone’s Trademark Consular Cap

Looking out a second- or third-story window of Saint Mungo Museum, we took pictures of the nearby Glasgow Cathedral, which is also called the High Kirk of Glasgow.

Glasgow Cathedral

On the paved plaza leading to the front of the cathedral stands a magnificent monument with an impressive statue of David Livingstone atop it.

David Livingstone monument near Glasgow Cathedral

Three sides of the monument bear large metalwork plates depicting (1) Livingstone teaching the Africans, (2) Livingstone taking astrological observations to use in determining latitude and longitude, and (3) an Arab slave trader attacking an African mother and her child with a whip. [pixs of metalwork plates on DL monument]

Slave Trader Attacking African Mother
David Livingstone Taking Astronomical Measurements
David Livingstone teaching Africans

I was delighted but not surprised to discover these two outstanding tributes to Scotland’s premier missionary in Glasgow. Livingstone grew up near Glasgow then received his initial theological and medical training in that city. He later qualified as a medical doctor, receiving the license of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow. He went on to gain tremendous acclaim in all of Britain, from Christians and non-Christians alike, for his career of missionary service, his wide-ranging explorations and geographical discoveries throughout southcentral Africa, and his steadfast determination to help end the African slave trade. All that was carried out with marked self-sacrifice, perseverance, courage and humility. He was not only admired but also lionized. Little wonder then that all of Scotland came to proudly esteem him as one of its most-honored sons.

Livingstone would have considered such honoring and lionizing of himself by others as tosh (to use a good British term). Livingstone’s goal in life was not self-promotion but faithful, humble service of his Savior Jesus, by helping to advance Christ’s spiritual kingdom and by bringing God’s love and blessings to others.  

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

John & Betty Stam

John and Betty Stam were a young American missionary couple who served a few short years in China before being executed by Communist rebels in 1934. Their martyrdom at ages 27 and 28 tragically ended their young lives and their short, consecrated missionary careers. Yet ever since then God has used their devout examples in life and death to help point not a few people to saving faith in Jesus Christ and to inspire untold thousands of Christians to serve the Lord with greater fervor and dedication.

Several weeks ago my wife Leeta and I had the privilege of visiting Christian Focus Publications, my primary publisher located in the scenic Highlands of Ross-shire, Scotland. Here’s the short feature Christian Focus released from our interview about the John and Betty Stam biography I’ve published with CFP. In this brief interview, I highlight a few of the outstanding aspects of the Stams’ lives and ministries.

John and Betty Stam by Vance Christie

If you’ve not yet read John and Betty Stam, Missionary Martyrs, I’d encourage you to do so. I think you’ll find it spiritually instructive, beneficial and encouraging. If you’ve already read the book and found it profitable, perhaps you would want to recommend it to someone else as worthwhile reading.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

While visiting Christian Focus Publications in the Highlands of Scotland last month, my wife Leeta and I were treated to “a wee ecclesiastical tour” by William and Carine Mackenzie. William is the General Director of Christian Focus while Carine is CFP’s best-selling author, with over 15 million copies (!) of her children’s books having been sold. They took us on an interesting and spiritually-inspiring half-day driving tour of several of the significant Church History sights in the area nearby CFP. Here are a few of the highlights of our time together, beginning with a couple personal pictures.

William, Carine and Vance in one of the warehouses where CFP books are stored and ready to be sent out around the world.

Vance-with-William-and-Carine-Mackenzie-in-the-CFP-warehouse
Vance with William and Carine Mackenzie in the CFP warehouse

William, Carine and Leeta in one of the Mackenzie family wheat fields. William reminded us of Jesus Christ’s words about Himself in John 12:24: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Leeta-with-William-and-Carine-Mackenzie-in-the-family-wheatfield
Leeta with William and Carine Mackenzie in the family wheat field

A seaside monument to Presbyterian missionary John Ross at the village of Balintore. The monument reads: “John Ross (1842-1914). A native of this place, minister, missionary in China and Korea, and the first to translate the New Testament into Korean.” CFP plans to publish Ross’s biography next year.

John-Ross-monument-at-Balintore-Scotland
John Ross Monument and Balintore, Scotland

Nigg Old Parish Church. An evangelical revival, which started at this parish church in 1739, spread and influenced the nature of religious life throughout the Highlands. The church also houses an ornate 8th century cross-slab stone (approximately six feet long by three feet wide) which used to stand in the churchyard cemetery.

Nigg Old Parish Church
Nigg Old Parish Church

Thomas Hog Gravestone at Kiltearn Old Parish Church. Thomas Hog (1628-1692) was Kiltearn’s most prominent minister. He was banished from his parish for many years for his promotion of the Protestant Reformation but was restored to minister there the last few years of his life. His gravestone, which lies just outside the church wall, was inscribed: “This stone shall bear witness against the parishioners of Kiltearn if they bring any ungodly minister in here.” More will be said about Hog below.

Thomas Hog Gravestone

Covenanters Communion Memorial Stone near Alness. The Covenanters were 17th century Scottish Presbyterians who were persecuted for holding to their biblical beliefs. This memorial reads in part: “This stone marks the only place in Ross-shire in which the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is known to have been dispensed to the Covenanters during the days of persecution. Respecting the command of their Divine Redeemer more than they feared the fury of the oppressor, they met here on a Sabbath in September 1675. Soldiers were sent to apprehend them but they did not arrive till the communion service was over and the congregation had dispersed.” William shared the rest of the story: The soldiers stopped at an apple orchard a couple miles away to have their fill of delicious autumn fruit. By the time they got back to carrying out their mission, the Covenanters had finished their meeting and were gone.

Covenanters Communion Memorial Stone

Saint Duthac Memorial Church, Tain. The church was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. Tain became a prominent place of pilgrimage and attracted many members of the nobility and royalty, including King James IV who visited the church eighteen times in twenty years. By 1487 the church had gained full collegiate status, with the main purpose of collegiate churches being to sing masses for the souls of their founders – in this case the King, his family and heirs. The church became a Protestant parish church after the Scottish Reformation in 1560.

Saint Duthac Memorial Church

Patrick Hamilton and Thomas Hog Memorial Stones at Saint Duthac Memorial Church.  Prominent memorial stones for these two leading Scottish Reformers are placed under the beautiful stained glass window inside Saint Duthac Memorial Church. Thomas Hog was born at Tain in 1628. Hamilton’s memorial stone reads: “Patrick Hamilton, the youthful abbot of the monastery of Fearn near Tain. Of noble extraction and allied to royalty. Learned and full of faith. He was the first preacher of the Reformation in Scotland and the first to seal its doctrine by a martyr’s death, being burnt at the stake in St. Andrews 28th February 1528. ‘His reek’ it was said ‘infected as many as it did blow upon.’ His principles quickly spread over Scotland. Their influence was felt in the neighborhood of his monastery and was early and decidedly manifested within these walls where this tablet is erected to his memory.”

Patrick Hamilton and Thomas Hog Memorial Stones at Saint Duthac

Church of Scotland Fearn Abbey, nearby Fearn. This was originally an Augustinian abbey, founded around AD 1240. Patrick Hamilton ministered as abbot here before his martyrdom as Scotland’s first Reformation preacher. A Church of Scotland congregation still worships at Fearn Abbey today.

Leeta and I thoroughly enjoyed and deeply appreciated the wee ecclesiastical tour to which William and Carine graciously hosted us. Such significant ecclesiastical sights and history can be found throughout Scotland if one goes looking for them. If you’re ever in Scotland I’d encourage you to investigate some of its rich history relating to the Protestant Reformation, evangelical revivals and Christian missions. I believe you’ll find those aspects of Scotland’s history spiritually beneficial as we have.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

I’ve often likened my book Timeless Stories, God’s Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, only with stories centered on clear Christian themes. Timeless Stories is a collection of true stories from the lives of ten outstanding Christian couples or individuals who ministered in the last three centuries: Billy and Ruth Graham; Corrie ten Boom; George Whitefield; John Wesley; George Muller; William and Catherine Booth; Hudson Taylor; Charles Spurgeon; Dwight Moody; Amy Carmichael.

From their commendable examples I’ve gleaned this collection of some 200 interesting and instructive incidents, grouped around eight primary themes: Family; Service; Faith; Prayer; Witness; Forgiveness; Stewardship; Adversity.  These stories encourage us on in each of those vital aspects of Christian living.

While visiting Christian Focus Publications (my primary publisher located near Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland) last month, CFP invited me to share a sample story from Timeless Stories, as a way of introducing the book to people. Here’s that short feature on Timeless Stories which CFP recently released. 

Timeless Stories: God's Incredible Work in the Lives of Inspiring Christians by Vance Christie

I hope this brief presentation will whet your appetite to read this valuable collection of Timeless Stories. I think you’ll find it very enjoyable and beneficial to read, as I certainly found the writing of this book to be. 

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

While in Scotland last month, my wife Leeta and I had the pleasure of visiting the headquarters of my primary publisher, Christian Focus Publications. Since 2008 I’ve had the privilege of publishing six books with CFP, and we’re presently collaborating on a seventh volume, a comprehensive biography on David Livingstone. Through those years I’ve interacted with a number of the CFP staff via email about a variety of matters. But this was my first opportunity to visit CFP’s lovely premises and meet several of its cordial staff members in-person. To follow are several highlights of our visit to CFP.

View of Moray Firth, Scotland’s North Sea

Christian Focus Publications is located on a scenic country estate on the western edge of the Moray Firth, an inlet of Scotland’s North Sea. CFP is a couple miles up the shoreline from the seaside village of Hilton and approximately a one-hour drive northeast of Inverness.

View of Moray Firth from cliffside
View of Moray Firth from cliffside

The CFP offices are housed in a portion of Geanies House, a handsome, substantial manor built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Another part of the house is used as a private residence.

Geanies House
Office Entrance at Christian Focus Publications

The manor is surrounded by several acres of beautiful, well-tended lawns and gardens. Walking paths wind through those and the surrounding woods, which stretch to the nearby cliffs overlooking the Moray Firth.

Gardens at Geanies House 1
Gardens at Geanies House 2

On the shoreline at the base of those 200-foot cliffs is the bothy, a small stone cottage. Leeta and I enjoyed spending part of a day exploring the seashore as the tide was going out. An additional treat was sharing a picnic lunch at the bothy with Willie and Kate Mackenzie (of CFP), along with their lively young boys.

The Bothy by the seashore
Leeta at the seashore

Leeta and I stayed in the CFP’s Caretakers Cottage for several nights. Half of that cottage is a charming three-bedroom guest house which can be rented out by tourists in the summer months. The other half of the duplex is the private residence of one of the estate’s friendly groundskeepers.

Keeper’s Cottage

Meeting the cordial staff at Christian Focus Publications was truly one of the highlights of our visit there. Several years ago I had met William and Willie Mackenzie (uncle and nephew to each other), who serve, respectively, as CFP’s General Director and Publications Director. In addition to renewing my acquaintance with them, it was a delight to meet their staff members, who were all very friendly and helpful. They provided us with some great advice and assistance concerning some choice sights to visit while in their area.

Some of the Christian Focus Publications Staff

Christian Focus Publications has a room in its office building where copies of all the nearly 1,500 titles it has published through the years are displayed and available for purchase. People are welcome to stop by and browse through the books in this home-office bookstore. Each year CFP publishes scores of highly worthwhile books on a wide variety of topics for adults, youth and children. You can learn much more about Christian Focus Publications and its titles by visiting its website.

Some of the many CFP books
Christian Focus for Kids Books

The good folks at the CFP home office enjoy having people stop by to say “Hi” and to check out their great selection of books. If you ever have the opportunity to do so, it will be well worth your while.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Andrew Murray
Older Andrew Murray

While in Scotland recently my wife Leeta and I had the privilege of visiting Christian Focus Publications, my primary publisher located near Fearn, Ross-shire. One morning during that visit CFP interviewed me about several of the books I’ve had the privilege of publishing with them. Here’s the short feature CFP released earlier this week of “yours truly” commenting briefly on the biography I’ve written on Andrew Murray, South Africa’s premier preacher, devotional writer and church leader of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. To this day Murray’s devotional writings continue to bring significant spiritual benefit to Christians around the world.

Andrew Murray by Vance Christie

I hope this brief feature will whet your appetite to read the full account of Murray’s life and ministry in Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. I think you’ll be inspired and encouraged by Murray’s example, as I have been, to serve Christ with greater diligence and warmth of personal devotion to Him.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Vance and Leeta’s Wedding Day

Forty years ago on Easter Sunday evening, I read the following poem to the young lady I was about to ask to marry me:

I Need a Hand
By Gregory Henderson

A hand to touch, to hold, to bend, to fold
A hand to shyly reach for and to learn of love with
A hand to hold within my own two hands.

A hand to live and share with, to grow and learn with
A hand to clasp on walks in woods, to study with and put a ring on
A hand to seek God’s will with and to start a new life together.

A hand to join with mine in prayer and Bible study
A hand to cry with and rejoice with
A hand to build a home with, to protect and hold a tiny hand with
And to lead our children to the Lord.

A hand to rest with, and caress, to reminisce with, and rejoice
A hand to love our grandchildren, to praise God for all circumstances
A hand to share the wisdom of our life
A hand to love yet more with every year.

  Thankfully that young lady, Leeta Hale, accepted my proposal and became Mrs. Leeta Christie a few months later. We celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary this coming Sunday, August 25, 2019.

Proverbs 18:22 teaches: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”  Proverbs 19:14 adds: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

I have experienced the truths of those Scripture verses in fullest measure in the wonderful life partner God has blessed me with. When I first married Leeta I was aware of and attracted by a number of her delightful, positive characteristics and qualities. But I had no way of knowing then that I comprehended only a fraction of her attractive, commendable traits which would come to be manifested through the many years and experiences of life we would share together. With each passing year, I continue to learn more about my wife and to more fully appreciate her.

Vance and Leeta with daughters and sons-in-law

In addition to praising God for the unspeakable blessing of the cherished wife he has given me, I praise Him for the innumerable blessings He has permitted us to share together in life:

  • A personal, growing, sustaining relationship with Him
  • Our three lovely daughters, two quality sons-in-law and one (so far) darling granddaughter
  • Many faithful, supportive friends and family members
  • The privilege of carrying out meaningful, fulfilling ministry and work
  • Health and strength
  • This list could go on and on!
Granddaughter Devin

However many more years the Lord grants us together as husband and wife, may He help us to:

  • Love and appreciate Him most of all
  • Appropriately cherish and honor each other
  • Be appropriately grateful for all our other blessings in life
  • Faithfully, earnestly serve Christ and people
  • Show forth Jesus to others, as individuals and as a couple

So enable us, blessed Holy Spirit of Christ!

#         #          #

In special celebration of our fortieth wedding anniversary, Leeta and I recently took our first-ever overseas trip, to Scotland. (If you care to, you may see a preview of that trip in my August 9, 2019 Perspective) Thanks to everyone who prayed for the Lord’s manifold blessings on all aspects of our trip; we certainly experienced those. As we had anticipated, we found Scotland to be a land rich in God’s natural created beauty, significant Christian history and distinctive cultural aspects. We also met many friendly, helpful people and a number of faithful, fervent Christians. God willing, in future Perspectives I will plan to share a few of the worthwhile highlights from that trip.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Scottish-Cultural-Festival
Scottish Cultural Festival

My dear wife Leeta and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this August 25th. As a special celebration of that exceptional blessing we are going on our first-ever overseas trip to Scotland, August 5-17.

We plan to visit a number of Scotland’s scenic and historic sights. We hope to observe one of the Scottish cultural festivals that are held in various locations during the month of August. (Think traditional Scottish dress, music, folk dances, food, athletic competitions, etc.)  High on Leeta’s priority list, and I’ll enjoy it too, is the opportunity to visit a couple of Scotland’s noble historic castles.

Scotland has a rich Christian history, and we’re looking forward to learning more about that and to visiting some of its related sites. We’re also desirous to learn more about the status of Christianity and the professing Christian Church in modern Scotland – various Christian denominations, their convictions, ministries, challenges and influence in society.

David-Livingstone-Centre-Blantyre-Scotland
David Livingstone Centre Blantyre, Scotland

For the past three and a half years I’ve been working on a comprehensive biography on the life and ministry of David Livingstone, the eminent nineteenth century missionary explorer to southcentral Africa (“Doctor Livingstone, I presume”). One of the highlights of our Scotland trip will be spending a day at the David Livingstone Centre and Birthplace Museum in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire.

We’re also greatly looking forward to meeting several of the people who minister at Christian Focus Publications, my primary publisher in Fearn, Ross-shire, in the Scottish Highlands. I’ve interacted via email with a number of those individuals for several years, but this will be our first opportunity to meet most of them in-person. We’re keenly anticipating worshiping at the church that some of the CFP staff attend, and to receiving a “wee ecclesiastical tour” of the region presented by William Mackenzie, the CFP Publisher.

CFPs-Geanies-Keepers-Cottage
Geanies Keeper’s Cottage at Christian Focus Publications

Christian Focus has a “cottage” (a cozy two-bedroom house overlooking the North Sea) which we’ll be staying at our second week in Scotland. From there we plan to make several day trips to see various sights in the north of Scotland.

So much to see and take in, so little time! But we’re looking forward to taking in as much as we can while enjoying what we are able to see and experience. I’ll plan to share some highlights from our Scotland trip in future Perspectives blogs. Your prayers for the Lord’s manifold blessings on all aspects of our trip will be greatly appreciated.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Rosalind Goforth

Not a few Christians find it very difficult to forgive, especially when they’ve been deeply wronged and hurt. Rosalind Goforth was an outstanding missionary to China with her husband Jonathan for forty-seven years (1888-1934). In her autobiography Climbing, Memories of a Missionary’s Wife she wrote honestly of her own struggle and eventual victory in this difficult matter of forgiving a marked offense.

Rosalind did not reveal the specific offense that was committed against her husband and her by a fellow missionary at the station where they were ministering. “Suffice it to say,” she later wrote, “that those who knew the facts agree that humanly speaking one can scarcely imagine a case where unforgiveness was more justified. Yet my dear husband, who had equal reason with myself for feeling as I did, quietly and calmly laid it all before the Lord and left it there. He begged me to do the same, but I could not, or rather would not, forgive.”

For more than a year the person who had caused the offense continued to live at their mission station, during which time Rosalind would neither speak to nor acknowledge him. After he left the station, another three years passed in which Rosalind held the matter “more or less in abeyance.”

Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth

Then the Goforths and some other Christians traveled by train to a large religious fair in a distant town where they carried out an intensive annual evangelistic campaign. Rosalind had been put in charge of the women’s outreach work that year, and she had a great yearning in her soul that the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power would be experienced in her life and ministry endeavors.

While they traveled along she bowed her head and cried to God to fill her with His Spirit. As she did, she sensed the Lord speaking to her in her heart: “Write to _____ [the one toward whom she felt hatred and unforgiveness], and ask forgiveness for the way you have treated him.” Instantly her whole soul cried out, “Never, never can I forgive him!” Twice more she prayed the same request and sensed the same clear inner prompting from the Lord. At last she jumped to her feet and said to herself of the divine blessing which she desired, “I’ll give it all up, for I’ll never, never forgive!”

As a result: “Then followed the saddest part of my life. For several months I taught and prayed to keep up appearances. But all the while my heart was becoming harder, colder and more hopeless.” One day Rosalind was reading Pilgrim’s Progress to her children. She came to the passage where Christian came to the man in the iron cage who said, “I have grieved the Spirit, and He is gone; I have provoked God to anger, and He has left me.” As she read those words, a terrible conviction came upon her that they were true of her. For the next two days she was in the depths of despair.

Pilgrim Progress’ Man in the Iron Cage

Jonathan was away from home at the time, and there seemed to be no one to whom she could turn for spiritual help. Then a young missionary, whose wife had died under exceptionally sad circumstances, came to their station and stopped by to greet Rosalind. They sat on the front steps of the Goforths’ home while he related with tears the details of his wife’s tragic death. 

Apparently the emotion of the moment combined with Rosalind’s already distraught spirit proved too much for her to bear, and she began to weep uncontrollably. When at last she was able to do so, she shared the entire story about her struggle to forgive the man who had wronged them. She ended by saying, “I have grieved the Holy Spirit of God, and He has left me!”

  “But Mrs. Goforth,” the young missionary asked, “are you willing to write the letter?” She replied: “I now know what it would be to be without God and without hope. And if I could only have another chance, there is nothing I would not do.” Again her fellow missionary asked, “Are you willing to write that letter?” When she indicated she was, he said, “Then go at once and write it.”

With “a glorious ray of hope dawning” in her, she hastened into the house and returned a few minutes later with the letter. It contained a few lines of sincere, humble apology for her actions toward the one whom she had been unwilling to forgive. Of the immediate and long-term consequences of her finally choosing to forgive she afterward related:

“O the joy that came, and thankfulness that it was indeed not too late! From that time, I have never dared not to forgive. There have been times when for hours, or even days, the battle was on again. But always the remembrance of this experience has enabled me to conquer and forgive.”

An important clarification: I do not understand the Bible to teach that the Holy Spirit actually leaves true Christians when they persist in sin. But Scripture certainly teaches that when believers refuse to forsake sin they grieve God’s Spirit and forfeit His empowerment and many other precious spiritual blessings.

A vital application: If we’re aware of unforgiveness or some other unforsaken sin in our lives presently, let’s hasten to get that cleared up with the Lord and any other appropriate individuals. Then we’ll once again fully honor and please the Lord and experience the restoration of spiritual joy and blessings in our lives.

# # #

Rosalind Goforth wrote several inspiring books, including her autobiography Climbing, Memories of a Missionary’s Wife. I believe that volume is no longer in print, but can easily be found online through various used book sources. It is well worth the effort to track down and read the work, in which Rosalind honestly and humbly relates her own beneficial (and oftentimes remarkable) experiences of growing in her relationship with and service of the Lord. Reading that book may very well lead you to read several of her other works, as I have.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie