Heroes of the faith
On paper, Gladys Aylward had none of the proper qualifications to be a missionary. She had failed out of the China Inland Missionary Society’s training school in London. She had no education, no useful skills, no money or missionary society to back her, and at 27 she was old by missionary standards. But what she did have was the most important qualification of all: a willingness to serve God and follow Him wherever He led her.
“If God has called you…let nothing deter you.”
Gladys did not let this failure discourage her. She now knew that if she was going to follow God’s call to China, she would have to provide her own funding and education. Her new job working as a housemaid in the home of a famous explorer who had written many books on his travels through China gave her the opportunity to accomplish both. Ten months later, after hearing of an elderly missionary, Mrs. Lawson, in Tientsin who was looking for an assistant, Gladys was on her way.
“I am at peace within, because I know that He never faileth.”
Her grueling journey took her by rail across Europe and Russia, found her trekking through snow-covered Siberian lands, and even saw her narrowly escape being sent to a remote Siberian factory after being detained by Russian officials. Three weeks after departing England, she finally made it to Tientsin just to discover that Mrs. Lawson had moved further inland to the town of Tsechow. Two trains, a bus, and 25 days later, Gladys arrived in Tsechow only to find Mrs. Lawson had once again moved. This time she had to ride in a basket on the back of a mule for two days over dangerous mountain trails to get to Yangcheng, where she was finally able to meet the elusive Mrs. Lawson.
“All that you are and all that you do…”
In the years following, Gladys was instrumental in helping establish an inn where mountain travelers could find a warm meal, a safe place to sleep, and hear the truth of the Gospel. After the death of Mrs. Lawson, Gladys continued her work and became a special advisor to the Mandarin. She helped improve local prisons, attended births, adopted numerous unwanted children, and helped end the practice of foot binding in that district. When war descended upon their region, Gladys guided 94 orphans on a 100-mile journey over a mountain range to safety.
Because of her willingness to follow whatever path God placed before her, this self-educated housemaid changed the lives of thousands of men, women, and children…including the Mandarin who at a feast in her honor looked to her and said, “I have seen all that you are and all that you do, and I would like to become a Christian like you.”
This story of non-stop excitement and adventure is one you don’t want to miss. You will be amazed by the difficulties she overcame, the incredible things she accomplished, and the amazing work God was able to do through her because of her eagerness to say Yes, Lord!
May we be so willing to follow God, wherever He may lead!
✍️ Credit :: Angela Parks
Women’s Bible Study Coordinator