Gladys Aylward was born short in size and short in worldly status but what was lacking in height and social standing she made up for in. Gladys May Aylward was born in north London on February 24, , and grew up a high-spirited, happy child. “She remembered her father coming home,”. She is author her autobiography entitled Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman. The film Inn of the Sixth Happiness, is loosely based on events from her life.
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English missionary in China and Taiwan who worked to end the traditional Chinese practice of binding women’s feet, led biorgaphy large group of orphans out of occupied China, and set up orphanages in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Born Gladys May Aylward on February 24,in Edmonton, ayoward of London, England; died of influenza on January 2,in Taipei, Taiwan; daughter of a postman and a postal worker; left school at 14; at 28, studied for three months at the China Inland Mission in London; never married; children: Left school to work as a shop assistant; later gkadys into domestic service ; became an evangelical Christian at age 18 ; began training at the China Inland Mission but was not recommended for further training ; went back into domestic service in London; finally departed for China ; settled in Yangcheng in Shensi or Shansi province; helped set up an inn and appointed Biohraphy of Feet; adopted Chinese nationality ; led about orphans out of war-torn China to safety in Sian ; worked in Tsingsui, near Lanchow in northwest China ; moved to Chengtu, Szechwan, where she continued her missionary work and was appointed Biblewoman at the Chinese Seminary ; returned to England ; went to Hong Kong and then Taiwan, settling in Taipei where she set up an orphanage In late Aprilan oxcart stopped outside the Scandinavian-American Mission in Hsing-P’ing Xingpingnorthwest China, to deliver the fragile body of a year-old Western woman who was delirious and on the verge of death.
Across her back, she bore the scar of a recent bullet wound. Sent to the hospital in Sian Xi’anshe was diagnosed with typhoid fever and internal injuries, but a month passed before she was identified. She was Gladys Aylward, also called Ai-weh-deh the Virtuous Onea Christian evangelist who had brought many children to safety from behind the Japanese lines.
Remarkably, Aylward survived, believing that God had more work for her to do. Gladys May Aylward was born in north London on February 24,and grew up a high-spirited, happy child.
Then she would sit at the tiny old foot-operated organ, pedal furiously and scream out a hymn at a decibel scale calculated to reach almost as high as those ominous silver cocoons aylwqrd through the sky. Aylward tried hard as a student, but she did not fare well at school. At age 14, she quit to work in biograpuy penny bazaar and then a grocer’s shop. At the cessation of war, she went into domestic service as a parlormaid in London’s West End. Aylward loved being in the heart of the big city, and in particular going to the theater.
Like many young girls, she dreamed of becoming an actress. Though she had been brought up a Christian, Aylward’s biogdaphy religious experience was going to Biogrxphy school. She was 18 on the evening she allowed herself, somewhat against her will, to be led by a group of young evangelicals into a church aylwzrd. When it was over, writes Phyllis Thompson:. She was hurrying to get away … when someone at the door grasped her hand, enquired her name, aylwrad then said, “Miss Aylward, I believe God is wanting you.
But the encounter must have made a strong impression. Aylward went back to see the cleric of the church and decided to join the movement. Sometime after, in her late 20s, Aylward tladys a newspaper commentary about China and the millions of people who had never heard of ayleard Gospel.
The article was to change her life. She sought training at the China Inland Mission C. After three months in the program, the chair of the C. She has a call to serve God—she is sincere and courageous—but we cannot take the responsibility of sending tladys woman of 26, with such limited Christian experience and education, to China.
Aylward knew her weaknesses glxdys appreciated the mission’s concern that she would find it hard to learn a Chinese dialect. She remained convinced, however, that God meant her to serve in China.
Sent by the C. Aylward next went to work as a Rescue Sister of “fallen women” near the docks of Swansea in South Wales. There, the five-foot, pound Aylward wandered the streets, talking to the homeless, penniless women and girls, and led them back to the hostel run by the mission for down-and-outs. The younger prostitutes thanked her; the older ones began treating her with “tolerant amusement. It became more and more obvious that if she was ever going to get to China … she would have to pay her own fare.
Aylward, Gladys (–) |
But the first day at her new post in Belgrave Square, she began to despair of ever reaching China. Sitting alone on her bed in her new quarters, she placed the few coins she had on her Bible and cried out, “Oh God, here’s my Bible! Those three shillings became a sign from God, the beginning of her fund toward a ticket to China. Aylward worked evenings and weekends to earn money. Yes, they agreed, there was an even cheaper way—overland through Holland, Germany, Poland, and Russia, then through Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Railroaduntil she made a junction connection with the Manchurian railway, which would take her to a steamer that would take her to Tientsin—but that route was impossible because there was an undeclared war on between Russia and China.
Realizing that their unlikely traveler was not to be deterred from making the long, dangerous journey, they allowed her to pay little by little on her ticket toward the full amount. As yet, Aylward had no specific destination in China. She learned of a year-old missionary named Jeannie Lawsonwho, upon returning to England, was immediately miserable and went back to China. Lawson was seeking a young person to help her continue her work.
Aylward wrote to her, and the two agreed to meet at Tientsin Tianjin. She carried two suitcases. One held her clothes; the other contained corned beef, fish, beans, crackers, soda biscuits, rye crisp, tea, coffee, hard-boiled eggs, a sauce pan, a kettle, and an alcohol stove.
Ten days later, she crossed into Siberia. As the train progressed, soldiers got on and civilians got off at each stop. At the town of Chita, a railway official tried to persuade her to disembark, but Aylward could not understand what he was saying and insisted on staying aboard.
Hours later, the train halted, the lights went out, and the soldiers got off. Aylward was now alone, and at the front line of the war about which she had been warned.
With no choice other than to make the long walk back down the tracks to Chita, she carried her gladyx through the freezing snow, trusting in God to protect her. From Chita, Aylward managed to find her way to Vladivostok, where she was to make another connection. Though she had paid her fare from London to Tientsin, it soon became apparent that her ticket was useless. She was also nearly penniless, and officials, biographhy for skilled factory workers, wanted to keep her in Russia.
While in her hotel, she was approached by an English-speaking woman who warned her that if she did not get out of the country immediately she might be sent to a remote part of Russia and never be heard from again.
Scrutinizing Aylward’s passport, the stranger pointed out that an official had changed Aylward’s profession from missionary to machinist. The woman arranged for Aylward’s escape and travel by the first ship out. In Kobe, Japan, Aylward was aylwardd to stay at the Mission Hall before turning in her unused vouchers for a steamer to Tientsin.
There, she was told that Mrs. Lawson was in a mission at Biogfaphy in Shensi Shaanxi province, north of the Yellow River in northwest China, many weeks away by train, bus, and mule.
Lu offered to escort her. When they arrived at the mission, they were told that Lawson was in Yangcheng Yangzhenga walled town two days away, along an ancient mule trail between Honan and Hopeh. The country, she was warned, was unpenetrated by Christianity. Wild and mountainous, the area was filled aylwadd bandits, immense stretches of lonely roads, and primitive people who thought all foreigners were devils.
Aylward finally found Lawson living in a house on the main road outside the city gate, amid private houses and inns. Though the house was a wreck, it was large and had a courtyard, and Lawson wanted to turn it into an inn for muleteers. Her plan was to read Bible stories at night to the guests, who would then spread news of the inn as they traveled the country. The Inn of Eight Happinesses was soon opened and quickly boycotted.
When the local inhabitants weren’t throwing clods of earth at Aylward or calling her a foreign devil, they were dragging her to witness judicial beheadings.
It became Aylward’s job to stand in the road when a muletrain appeared, announcing, ” Muyo beatch, muyo goodso, how, how, how, lai, lai, lai.
Aylward also accompanied Lawson on her visits to neighboring villages to preach and tell stories. A year later, the year-old Lawson fell off a balustrade and was severely injured. Before she died, she told Aylward: He will bless and protect you. By this time, a government decree had been passed in China, prohibiting the tradition of binding the feet of girls at birth.
In the view of the ancients, binding stunted the foot’s natural growth, keeping it small but attractive. The local mandarin, a powerful figure responsible for the administration of Yangcheng, needed a woman with “big feet,” who had not been crippled by the custom, to travel throughout the province and verify that the cruel tradition was no longer being observed.
Thus, Gladys Aylward, who wore a size three, became Inspector of Feet, traveling the province on a mule accompanied by two soldiers. For this job, she received one daily measure of millet and money for vegetables, recompense that was sorely needed at the mission at Yangcheng. After capitalizing on the opportunity at every village to tell her stories, Aylward would then state her case to the women plainly:. If God intended little girls to have horrible stubby little feet, he’d have made them like that in the first place, wouldn’t he?
Feet are to walk with, not to shuffle up and down with, aren’t they? I don’t care if the husbands say you should do it or not. They should try it sometimes, and see if they like hobbling about on little club feet.
Aylward, Gladys (1902–1970)
Any man who tells you to do it goes to prison at once; that’s the law bladys. Generally, as girls were unbound, wiggling their toes with delight, the women of the town would cheer.
Gladys Aylward had gained “much face. Aylward’s years at bigraphy inn were happy. I wear their clothes, eat their food, speak their language—even their dialect—and I am thinking like they do.
She didn’t try to inflict Christian morality. Always penniless and living among the people she helped, she was driven by a compassion for human suffering.
InAylward became a naturalized Chinese citizen. By that time, China and Japan had been pursuing an undeclared war for several years. In Julythe full-scale, official Sino-Japanese war was underway. The following year, when the Japanese bombing reached Yangcheng, one raid destroyed the town as well as the inn.
Aylward was rescued from beneath the rubble. Amid the chaos, she improvised a hospital and established small Christian communities in the region, sometimes visiting villages under Japanese occupation and reporting any observations on her travels that might prove useful to the Chinese Nationalists. She had been asked to work in this capacity by a young Chinese colonel, a member of Chiang Kai-shek ‘s intelligence service, who had set up headquarters in her city.
Yangcheng was considered an important military objective and changed hands several times, often forcing the townspeople into caves in the hills.