The Little Woman
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of
those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who
proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)
Gladys Aylward was born to a working-class family in Edmonton, North London,
in 1902. In order to make a living, she had to quit her study and went to work as a domestic
worker at her early age. When she was in teens, she came to know God and
devoted herself to His service. Once she read a book about mission in China.
It mentioned that hundred millions of people had never heard Gospel in China.
This touched her heart, and she decided to be a missionary to China. But
because she had very limited education, she was rejected by mission society
many times. Even so, she was not discouraged and decided to save money for
the future mission work.
In 1930, through the help of an older missionary(Jeannie Lawson), she traveled through Trans-Siberian
Railway with many troubles and arrived on YangCheng, Shanxi Province to work
in Jeannie’s founded “The Inn of the Eight Happinesses.” The building
was haunted, but it was converted into a nice and cozy place for the
travelers. Aylward worked during the day time and in the evening she used her
limited Mandarin and vivid gestures to tell Bible stories to the guests and
neighbors. That attracted some to believe in Jesus.
Aylward became a Chinese citizen in 1936 and was a
revered figure among the people. One day, she saw a girl with poor health was
for sale in the market by the handler, so she bought her and started an
orphanage ministry. During the time of Japanese Invasion War, her orphanage
had more than one hundred children. In order to keep them save, she led the
whole team walked a long distance through mountains and dangers, arrived FuFeng, ShanXi, one of the base of the China Inland Mission. She also went to GanShu, QinHai, SiChuan
and Tibet to preach the Gospel and served the poor and lepers. In 1949, she
returned to Britain for health concern. After being denied re-entry by the
Communist government for 10 years, she settled in Taiwan in 1957. There she
founded two Aylward Orphanages, where she worked until her death in 1970. A
film based on her life, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, was released
in 1958 and made her a figure of international interest.
Gladys Aylward is a small woman without
much education, but with a heart of loving God and men, and a determination
not to give up. Her life has set a wonderful example for those who bring good
news to the world.