The Ministry of Jesus: Gladys Aylward


Guest Post by Jaime Farkas


The events in China due to the One-Child policy are heart-breaking and at times it is easy to get discouraged and lose hope.  But when we stop to consider the heart and mission of God we can press forward.  Hebrews 12:1 says: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."


One of the “witnesses” to encourage us can be found in the life of Gladys Aylward. Gladys was a missionary to China.  She went to China out of obedience to a call from the Lord without support from anyone.  She went through extreme hardships and trials to get herself to China.  One trial was walking through Siberia in the middle of winter by herself for 3 days straight.  Needless to say, she almost died.


I wanted to share one story from her life that captured my heart and revealed to me the power of the ministry of Jesus:


Isaiah 61: 1-3 (which Jesus quoted in Luke 4:18)

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,

because the LORD has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.


Gladys had come to China without the ability to speak Chinese and without a backing from a missionary organization.  The missionary she had been working with died and so she found herself all alone in China.  She owed money to the local Mandarian, a governor, and she didn't have any money to pay him.  One day  he came to see her, and her Chinese companion fled because he thought Gladys was going to be arrested for not paying her taxes.  What happened next was absolutely astounding. 


The Mandarian came to her asking her to do a job for him.   This was amazing first of all because it provided the money she owed, and secondly because of the type of job she ended up doing.  He was commanding her to go throughout the land and enforce a new law that had come from the head government.  It was commanded that all girls under the age of 12 could no longer have their feet bound.  It was her job to make sure every village in her area was following this ruleendi, ng the age-old practice of binding a young girl's feet to prevent them from growing.  She informed the Mandarian that she would be preaching the gospel while she performed her task.  He said it was fine.  He gave her second in command status for that area and her word was to be followed.  She had the government's permission and support to travel throughout the land preaching the gospel and unbinding little girls feet, breaking a horrific tradition that had gone on for generations!


The story recollected the first time she entered a home to unbind feet.  She sat down on the ground and took a little girls foot and began to unwind the cloth that had her feet bound so tightly in half.  The foot was completely white.  She began to massage the feet of the little girl and the blood began to flow again.  As she came into people's home with the authority of the government she also had the opportunity to share about the God who loved them so much that He sent His one and only Son so that they could be free.


The ministry of Jesus is "to set the captives free." For generations Chinese women were in captivity and extreme pain because of this horrible tradition.  How beautifully appropriate that a daughter of God would be called out to break this terrible curse in such a beautiful and personal way.  I don't know why generations of Chinese women had to endure the pain and why freedom didn't come earlier.  I just know  that when the ministry of Jesus comes, it brings a freedom of unimaginable beauty.


What I've learned from reading Gladys storyis that it is worth pushing through the pain and the hardships that try to stop us from going where God has asked us to do.  It is worth being a willing vessel, and Jesus will use us to bring his freedom to the captives.  As I read the story of Chai Ling and see the ministry of All Girls Allowed, I hear the similar beats of God’s heart.  The ministry of Jesus is still in effect today and his ministry flows out of his people.   May our generation reveal in the glory of the Lord setting another generation of Chinese women free.


Let it flow.

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