In the 1930s, Gladys Aylward left England to serve as a missionary in China. Her journey and time in that country is an amazing testimony of her faithfulness and obedience to Jesus Christ.
At one point, although barely recovered from illness, she felt directed by God to journey to an unreached part of China. Traveling alone, she set out and went from village to village sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In one village the people told her, “this is the end. Further on there is nothing.” However, a doctor who just happened to be a Christian agreed to travel with her for five days. Dr. Huang and Gladys shared Christ with everyone they met.
The five days stretched to ten, and at this point, they had not encountered anyone By mid-afternoon, Gladys wrote she was “perturbed.” Placing their traveling bundles on the ground, they knelt to pray, and Gladys admitted her prayer was for her comfort and needs. Dr. Huang’s calm prayer was, “O God, send us the one You want us to tell about Jesus. We have witnessed to no one today, but You have sent us here for some special purpose. Show us where to find the man You intend to bless.”[i]
Gladys was humbled and ashamed that her prayer had only been for her comfort whereas Dr. Huang’s prayer had been for the souls of men. Still on their knees, Gladys suggested they sing a chorus. Their voices carried in the clear mountain air, and then Dr. Huang suddenly jumped to his feet and exclaimed, “There is our man,” and he ran off.
Feeling alone and very small, Gladys waited until she saw in the distance two tiny specks on the mountainside. Dr. Huang shouted for her to come up, but at first, she didn’t move. Finally, the doctor ran to her, and half carried, and half pushed Gladys up the mountainside where a Tibetan lama priest stood.
Dr. Huang shared that the man had invited them to stay the night. Gladys wasn’t sure that was a good idea since lamas were not supposed to have anything to do with women.
However, the priest replied, “We have waited long for you to tell us about the God who loves.”[ii]
Upon their arrival at the huge lamasery, Gladys was fearful of what would happen to them. Instead, she and the doctor were greeted almost reverently, and their every need was met to make them comfortable. They were then escorted into a large room filled with five hundred priests with their hands devoutly crossed and their heads bent.
The doctor and Gladys sang and shared the Gospel until they could barely stay awake. Moving to their private rooms, Gladys collapsed from exhaustion. Yet that night, two-by-two, the priests kept coming to her and the doctor asking the same question, “Will you explain how and why He died? Will you explain how it is He could love me?”[iii]
She wrote, “These men never questioned that God was the Creator of the world, they never doubted the fact of the virgin birth, they did not consider any of the miracles incredible. To them it was the wonder of God’s love which obsessed them. The story of Christ’s death on Calvary filled their minds with awe and reverence.”[iv]
Later Gladys, alone, was invited to meet the head lama. After discussing various things, she dared to ask him why he would allow a foreign woman to come into their lamasery and speak to their priests. The man told her that many years before several of their priests had gone to a village to sell some herbs. While there, a man had been waving a paper and calling out about salvation and inviting people to a gospel hall. The lamas took the tract and brought it back with them.
The paper now in pieces was stuck on the wall. The words were John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” From those words, the priests learned that somewhere there was a God who loved. For five years they searched for more information but could learn nothing more.
The man who had first received the tract vowed he would not come back until he learned more about this God. Several of them traveled until they finally came to a small mission outpost where a man there talked to them about Jesus and gave them each a copy of the Gospels. They returned to the lamasery, and they all read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The head priest continued, “One verse seemed of special importance. Christ had said, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,’ so obviously one day someone would come to tell us more about this wonderful God. All we had to do was to wait and, when God sent a messenger, to be ready to receive him. For another three years we waited.”[v]
When they had heard Gladys and Dr. Huang singing on the mountainside, they knew they were the messengers the lamas had been waiting for because he said, “Only people who know God will sing.”[vi]
Gladys and Dr. Huang stayed several more days singing, sharing, and teaching about Jesus Christ and God. When we get to heaven, how many will we meet who heard from these two faithful servants about the God who loves?
How many people now are waiting and longing to hear the Good News? Will you sing God’s praises?
Will you go and tell others about the God who loves?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17, NKJV).
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV).