young Gladys

Today’s member of the Great Cloud of Witnesses (of Christians who have gone before us) is a plucky English maid from the 1900’s. She wasn’t the mousy servant you might picture dusting, cleaning, and curtseying in a great English home. She was a mighty woman of God who was so confident of her calling, that she wouldn’t take no for an answer, even when it looked impossible for her to follow her dreams.
“Gladys Aylward felt God’s call to be a missionary after reading an article about the desperate need in China. Excited to begin a lifelong adventure, she became a student at the China Inland Mission in London. For three years she diligently studied the language. But the missionary society rejected her application to go.*
“‘You’re not qualified,” the mission president said. “I’m sure you are willing, Miss Aylward. It’s just that by the time you reach the level of competence we desire for our missionaries you will be almost thirty years old. Everyone here agrees it is nearly impossible to learn the Chinese language at that advanced age.”  
“That didn’t stop Gladys. She found her own way to China. In 1930, she left England with no financial support and less than ten dollars in her purse. She didn’t know the language and lacked a proper education, but God supplied for her needs and used her in incredible ways. 
“For years she ran an inn where mule teams stopped for the night. Each evening she served the drivers bowls of rice and Bible stories. They in turn, spread the stories all over China as they journeyed to sell their wares. Through her bold witness, the Mandarin of her district came to know Christ.
“Gladys also served as the chief foot inspector, by order of the Mandarin. Equipped with his authority and soldiers, foot binding, a custom that had painfully crippled the women of China for centuries, was eradicated. And not surprisingly, created anotheroutlet for Gladys to spread the gospel. 
“When World War I orphaned hundreds of Chinese children, many came to Gladys for help. She led more than 100 orphans over the mountains on foot – dodging gunfire, fighting starvation, and just before enemy troops took over the area, God miraculously made a way for them to cross the river to safety.
“Gladys Aylward’s work as a parlor maid doesn’t seem like the most effective preparation for winning the masses in China.” But God knew what He was doing when He called her to the work. She was strong, willing, and used to serving others. “Gladys Aylward praised God that, ‘one so insignificant, uneducated, and ordinary in every way could be used to his glory for the blessing of his people.’”
Gladys is an inspiration to us who don’t feel like we’re smart enough, prepared enough, and lack the finances to accomplish all God is challenging us to do. Her story shows us we don’t have to have the resources – we just need to be obedient, and God will do the rest.

Ingrid Bergman in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness

You can read her story in this easy-read book by the Janet and Geoff Benge, or The Small Woman, by Alan Burgess. I also recommend the classic movie, based on her biography, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” starring Ingrid Bergman. 
*Excerpts taken from my book, Moments for Homeschool Moms from AMG Publishers. Available in Christian bookstores,, and 
Our next member of the Cloud is a man who came out of the Muslim faith.