Bible Reading: Romans 10:14-17

Romans 10:15b, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.”

Gladys Aylward grew up in London in the early 1900s.  As a young believer, she felt led to attend Bible School to prepare to be a missionary to China with China Inland Mission.  But she failed Bible classes and was dismissed from Bible School.

So, Gladys found a job as a housemaid and took on a ministry to young women at the local Rescue Mission and did not give up on her missionary plans. She began to save money to pay her own way to China and made contact with a Mrs. Lawson in China—she planned to go to help her in her ministry.

Unable to afford sea passage, she spent her life savings and booked a ticket on a mail train that would take her across Europe and through Siberia.  Seven days after leaving Liverpool, the train crossed the Ural Mountains.  It began to get quite cold on the train.  As the train approached Siberia, it filled up with soldiers.  And then as it proceeded, she heard gunfire.  The train came to a stop.  She was forced off the train.

Gladys walked for miles through the snow backwards in the direction she had come.  She made her way to the train station.  Tired, frozen cold, and hungry, she was put in a cell.  She was interrogated.  She tried to explain that she was a missionary on her way to China.  The official misunderstood.  He thought she said machinist.  She was put on a train to Vladivostok.  There she found a hotel.  But a government official followed her.  He heard she was a machinist.  He explained Russia had need for such workers.  He planned to ship her off to a factory.

A girl came to her rescue.  She escorted her to a Japanese ship.  Gladys booked passage on the ship and finally arrived at her destination.  But Mrs. Lawson wasn’t there.  She had moved hundreds of miles away.  The trip to her new location—by train, bus, and mule train—would take 15-20 days.  Gladys survived another arduous and tiring journey.  Then she finally arrived at her destination.

Mrs. Lawson showed her around the house.  That location would later become known as “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.”  After choosing a room and putting her bags away, Gladys stretched her legs.  She walked down the street and came upon some women carry water jars.  Without saying a thing, the women put down their jars and began throwing dirt clods at her.

But Gladys settled in with Mrs. Lawson and the two provided hospitality for travelers in their Inn.  She would often share about Jesus with those who had never heard the gospel before.  For a time, she served as an assistant to the Government of the Republic of China as a “foot inspector” by touring the countryside to enforce the new law against foot-binding young Chinese girls.  Aylward became a national of the Republic of China in 1936 and was a revered figure among the people, taking in orphans and adopting several herself, intervening in a volatile prison riot and advocating prison reform, risking her life many times to help those in need.  In 1938, the region was invaded by Japanese forces and Aylward led over 100 orphans to safety over the mountains, despite being wounded, personally caring for them (she was used by God to lead many to know Jesus).  She settled in Taiwan in 1958, where she founded the Gladys Aylward Orphanage in which she worked until her death in 1970.

Gladys left the comforts of home and traveled far and at great cost in her missionary endeavor.  She suffered much along the way and was met with a rude reception when she arrived.  Her story reminds us of the greatest missionary journey ever undertaken, when the One who was rich left His Father’s throne and became poor, that He might save lost sinners.  Such is the spirit of missionary endeavor.  It always involves sacrifice.  We don’t need to travel halfway around the world to share the good news, but we’ve got to take some initiative and be willing to suffer some discomfort and likely even bear some abuse.  Jesus traveled far and suffered much to save you.  He gave His life for thee, what hast thou done for Him?


I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou mightst ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou done for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee,
What hast thou done for Me?

My Father’s house of light,
My glory-circled throne
I left for earthly night,
For wanderings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee,
Hast thou left aught for Me?
I left, I left it all for thee,
Hast thou left aught for Me?

I suffered much for thee,
More than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony,
To rescue thee from hell;
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee,
What hast thou borne for Me?
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee,
What hast thou borne for Me?

And I have brought to thee,
Down from My home above,
Salvation full and free,
My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee,
What hast thou brought to Me?

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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