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Gladys Aylward

Notes & Transcripts

In Character Forged from Conflict, Gary Preston writes about Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China during and after World War II:

Gladys's ministry in China was chronicled in the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. She suffered terribly during her journey across the mountains of China in order to bring a hundred orphans to safety in Sian in Shensi. Ranging in age from four- to fifteen-years-old, these children were saved because of Gladys's faithful obedience to God.

But it was not without cost.

When Gladys arrived in Sian with the children, she was gravely ill and almost delirious. She suffered internal injuries from a beating by the Japanese invaders in the mission compound at Tsechow. In addition, she suffered from relapsing fever, typhus, pneumonia, malnutrition, shock, and fatigue.

Through her ordeal Gladys learned more about obedience to Christ. She learned to choose Christ over anything else life had to offer—so much so that when the man she loved, Colonel Linnan, came to visit her in Sian as she was recovering and asked her to marry him, she declined. In her heart she knew she could not marry him and continue the work God had for her among the children of China. Out of her obedience to God, she said good-bye to Linnan at the train station, and they never met again. Gladys continued serving God faithfully in China and England until her death in 1970.

You see, if I want joy, I must understand that it comes from being constantly in the presence of God, and that presence is achieved through a captivated heart, a cultivated awareness, and a capitulated will. But, even though there may be effort involved, and even though there may be, as there was for Gladys, suffering involved, there is also some wonderful fruit when I come into His presence.

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