Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman
Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) left her home in London in her early twenties to pursue service in war torn China. Although fairly uneducated, having no ‘missionary’ training, and lacking any financial support, she felt God was asking her to go and teach the Bible and she simply went. This book is an autobiography of her story. From riding trains in the middle of a battle zone in China, to being held captive in Russia, to taking in Chinese orphans, to being approached by government officials to be a Foot Inspector…there is not one page in this book that will not consume your full attention. There are many spiritual elements and things to learn but at its core, her story contains all the elements for, well, a good story. This is probably why it was made into a film, The Inn of The Sixteenth Happiness in 1957.
I found myself greatly challenged by her life and her faith. She truly found what was worth investing in and she spent her life on it. We often think that doing this means taking on something large and grand. Reading this book you may be tempted to think her life was just that but as you read you see that she never set out to live a life that was book worthy, she set out to be faithful in each day and to each person she came across. We often don’t ‘go’ if we have to go alone. Gladys is a great example of someone who counted the cost and was willing to pay it. I couldn’t help but to think of the missionaries I know who are now on the field and how they need people to be behind them with encouragement, resources, and prayer.
Practically, at a hundred and fifty (small) pages, this book is an easy read for anyone; I read it in one sitting (about two hours). I would especially recommend it to anyone that is in a rut and needs a little heart stirring, to anyone who is in the middle of faithful serving and is feeling alone and weighed down, and to anyone who has heard God’s voice clearly but doesn’t see how things could possibly work out that way.