Gladys Aylward rightly has been called the most noted single woman missionary of the 20th century. Her story has been told in a popular biography, a film starring Ingrid Bergman, and a BBC 'This Is Your Life' feature.

If you'd met Gladys in her younger days, however, you would have wondered what all the fuss was about. Born into a working-class family, Gladys did poorly in school and began working as a maid at the age of 14. She would have remained a maid for life if God had not intervened.

A pastor's wife with a passion for the lost -- whether they be rich or poor -- won Gladys to the Lord. After her conversion in her mid-twenties, Gladys began dreaming of telling the lost about her Savior. And not just in the corner of London where she worked. She felt distinctly called by God to go to China as a missionary.

The mission board to which she applied couldn't have been less enthusiastic. That didn't hinder Gladys. She set out by train across Europe and Asia. That she made it to China is a miracle. On one occasion, Gladys found herself in a deserted train, stranded in Siberia -- less than a mile from where Russian and Chinese soldiers were at war.

Once in China, God allowed Gladys to undergo some harrowing experiences, but used her to win many Chinese to Himself. She demonstrated courage and physical endurance where many a man would have wilted. The secret wasn't her background, education, or missionary training. By all those standards, she didn't measure up. But because her life was centered on God alone, He was pleased to demonstrate His power through her.

God wants to show His power in and through each of us, whatever our circumstances and calling in life.


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Illustration taken from:
 Luis Palau's book, How to Renew Your Spiritual Passion, Discovery House, 1995.