Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime

I had never heard of Gladys Aylward, so I’m glad I got the chance to read this book about her. Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime, written by Janet and Geoff Benge, tells the fascinating story of this British woman who served as a missionary in China.

Before becoming a missionary, Gladys attended the China Inland Missionary Society’s training school in London. She never graduated as her grades weren’t good enough for her to be a missionary. However, she was convinced God had called her to China and was determined to get there one way or another. She overcame amazing difficulties just to enter the country. Despite all the roadblocks in her journey to her new home, once there, her troubles were just beginning.

She was supposed to meet Mrs. Lawson, a missionary, when she arrived in Tsechow, China, 21 days after leaving England. But, Mrs. Lawson was no longer there. It took Gladys another 27 days to finally track her down, in YangYeng, nearly seven weeks after she left England.

When she finally arrived at Mrs. Lawson’s, she was not only tired from her long, arduous journey, she was dispirited to find the missionary living in a big, drafty house that required many repairs. Together, though, the two women were eventually able to transform the house into an inn, called The Inn of Eight Happinesses, a place where travelers could go to eat, rest and hear the Gospel.

Gladys managed to overcome language and cultural obstacles and survive, and even thrive, in a country that thought all white people were “devils.” She also managed to survive during the war between China and Japan when thousands of others died. And, she even befriended the Chinese mandarin, the government’s representative, who gave her a position of authority over the Chinese people (which she used to good advantage).

Gladys traveled once to England to recover from a serious illness, but she later returned to China, to “her home,” where she died in 1970.

What I Like: This is a great story about a truly remarkable woman.

What I Dislike: My only complaint is there are very few dates given for events in the story. In Chapter One we read about Gladys’ problems in reaching China on a Russian train, but the authors don’t say what year it was. There are very few dates given, making it difficult for the reader to put this story into historical perspective.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: Middle grades and teens.

Publisher Info: Y W A M Publishing, 1998; ISBN: 1576580199; Paperback, $8.99.

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Special Info: This book is part of P & R Publishing’s Chosen Daughter’s series. According to the publisher, “The Chosen Daughters series highlights the lives of ordinary women who by God’s grace accomplish extraordinary things.” Read our reviews of other books in the series.

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