Thursday, April 4, 2019

Book Review: Gladys Aylward

Gladys Aylward: Missionary to China. Sam Wellman. 1998. Barbour. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Gladys Aylward sat in a hard, high-backed chair across from a square desk.

I first heard of Gladys Aylward in the 1958 movie, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. After reading this biography, I've learned that she really did not approve of the all. I'm not sure I'll stop liking the movie, but it's given me food for thought. WHO is telling your story and WHY can definitely influence the outcome. It makes a weird kind of sense that Hollywood would be more interested in DRAMA and ROMANCE and even COMEDY rather than highlighting a humble woman who was all about serving and glorifying the Lord above all else. That doesn't necessarily make it right.

When Aylward first returned to England--after the second World War--she did not come seeking glory  or fame for herself. She did not see herself as a hero. She did not see her story as being worth telling or sharing. Her story was coaxed out of her and shared with the world via Alan Burgess.

Her story is worth telling because it is a TESTIMONY of the Lord's working wonders in her life. Gladys Aylward was a woman who felt called by the Lord to service. She was confident the Lord was calling her to China. Not everyone shared her confidence. In fact--few did. She was rejected by the China Inland Mission--because she was "too old" to learn the Chinese language. She didn't feel 'too old' however. She would continue to serve the Lord where she was--London--and save up money to send herself to China. Perhaps she could be an assistant to an older--established--missionary. She would end up going to China and serving alongside Jeannie Lawson--a missionary who was becoming increasingly senile though no less stubborn.

The book tells of her years in China--as an innkeeper, as a foot inspector, guardian of orphans--in the 1930s and 40s. She was unable to stay in China after the Communists took over; but she settled in Taiwan and continued serving the Lord.

When Gladys reflected on her new job she realized it was a gift from God. To think she had resisted. She had the opportunity to travel all over the Mandarin's district and meet every woman and girl of the many thousands in the district. It really was miraculous now that she accepted it. Why had she ever hesitated? Probably because she was single-minded and she could think of nothing but spreading the gospel to the male guests at the inn. But here is yet another way to spread the gospel and to women. (99)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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