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Fitting In

As a girl in England, Gladys Aylward sometimes felt like she didn’t fit in. Many of the other girls had long blonde curls, and Gladys had black hair. Gladys was less than five feet tall; other girls were much taller. But in China where Gladys later served the Lord as a missionary, the people were shorter and had black hair!

When Gladys arrived in China she gave up English customs to fit in better with the people of China. Mrs. Smith, a missionary in China, gave Gladys quilted slacks and jackets like those worn by Chinese women. In later years, Gladys said, “I lived exactly like a Chinese woman. I wore Chinese clothes, ate their food, spoke their language.”

But in other ways, Gladys did not try to fit in. One day she saw a woman on the street trying to sell a little girl. It was a shocking sight! She reported the situation to the Mandarin — a government official. He told her to ignore the child sellers. Gladys said, “I have to inform you, Mandarin, that I did not come to China only to observe your laws, I came for the love of Jesus Christ, and I shall act upon the principles of His teaching, no matter what you say.”

To Think About
Is it ever a good thing to not fit in? If so, can you give some examples? Should Gladys have obeyed the Mandarin to fit in? What are some ways you would not change to fit in with others?

The story above is taken from The Torchlighters Ultimate Activity Book and DVD set, available at The book includes 144 pages of stories, devotionals, challenging coloring pages, extreme dot-to-dots, crafts, and activities related to the 16 heroes on the accompanying Torchlighters DVDs. Learn more here.

Gladys Aylward

British missionary Gladys Aylward traveled to China by train and boat across Europe and Asia. God protected her through many hardships and adventures during her trip. After she arrived in China, Gladys helped an older missionary manage an inn where they shared Bible stories with visitors who passed through the area.

Then a local leader appointed Gladys as a foot inspector to help end the custom of foot binding. The Chinese considered small feet to be beautiful, so preschool girls had their toes bent down under the soles of their feet and bandaged tightly to create smaller feet. The procedure was painful and made it hard to walk normally. As a foot inspector, Gladys unbound the girls’ feet and shared the story of Jesus with many Chinese people. (The photos illustrate the size of shoes worn by adult women whose feet had been bound since the women were children.)

Gladys also helped stop a prison riot and taught the prisoners about Jesus. She was able to serve God in many other ways in China, because she was willing to be used by Him wherever He needed her.

Gladys said, “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done in China. I don’t know who was. It must have been a man, a well-educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. And God looked down and saw Gladys Aylward. And God said, ‘Well, she’s willing.’”

Note: “The Torchlighters: The Gladys Aylward Story” is a children’s DVD that tells how Gladys led more than 100 children on a hike through mountains in China to escape enemy soldiers. The DVD is available at View an English trailer for the DVD in the video section and an Arabic version here.

To Think About
Why might someone not be willing to follow the Bible’s teachings and God’s will? Do you think they might not trust God to provide for all their needs if they follow Him? Read Proverbs 3:5-6.

Middle East: “His Name Is Jesus”

Middle Eastern girl

Adara sat in front of a computer waiting to see what would happen. A man in her city had arranged for her to talk to someone on Skype, but he didn’t give her any more information about the conversation.

Adara lives in a country where most people are Muslims. Her mother and father died a few years ago — or so she thought.

Soon Adara was exchanging greetings with a man on the computer screen who introduced himself as Saqib. Then Saqib said, “Adara, I am your father.”

“No,” said Adara. “My father is dead.”

“I am not dead,” Saqib said. “But even if they are telling you I’m dead, and even if you forget everything about me, just remember one thing. His name is Jesus. That is the only thing you need to care about.”

The conversation ended.

Saqib used to be a very wealthy Muslim businessman. The companies he owned were making lots of money, and he adored his wife. Life was good, Saqib thought.

Then one day he came home from work and found his wife reading Christian materials she had found on the Internet. Saqib was furious! He ordered his wife to never read such things again.

Sadly, months later, Saqib’s wife died while she was giving birth to their daughter, Adara. Saqib grieved deeply. “I have never loved anybody as much as I loved my wife,” he said later. He looked for answers to his questions about life and death from Muslim leaders, but they could not comfort him.

One day, he was looking at his wife’s computer, and he found a Bible she had downloaded. He printed it, and for one month he did nothing but read the Bible. When his Muslim relatives found out what he was doing, they had him put in jail for five months, then kicked him out of the country. He lost his businesses, and he was separated from Adara. Adara was told that her father had died.

“I want to encourage Christians to pray for Adara,” said a VOM worker. “Pray that God will reach her and pass down the faith of her parents to her.”

(Source: To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this website and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)

Baruch: Hard Work Goes up in Smoke (Jeremiah 36 and 45)

The people in Bible times did not have computers and printers. When they wanted to write a book, they had to write it by hand on a scroll. The people who wrote books and important papers were called scribes.

Jeremiah was a prophet in Bible days. He warned the people that if they did not obey God, bad things would happen to them and their land. God told him what to say in his warnings, and He told Jeremiah to write down all the warnings in a book. God said that the people might read the book and stop sinning. Jeremiah asked a scribe named Baruch to write the words after Jeremiah spoke them. Baruch wrote down all the words faithfully, enough words to fill a book.

Baruch read the words of the book “in the hearing of all the people.” Later he read from the book to important men and princes in the kingdom. The important men were afraid because of God’s warnings in the book. “We will surely tell the king of all these words,” they said.

The king was in his winter house, sitting by the fire, when they read the words to him. After he listened to just three or four columns of the book, the king cut it up and threw it in the fire! He did not fear God’s warnings. All of Baruch’s work went up in smoke.

Jeremiah and Baruch worked together to write the words all over again in another book. But Baruch was disappointed. “Woe is me now!” he said. “God has given me sadness along with my pain. I’m worn out with suffering and can find no rest.”

But God reminded Baruch that He cared for him.

To Do
Copy a verse from the Book of Jeremiah by hand. What would it be like to copy the whole book twice? We can trust God even when He calls us to do hard work for Him.

To Learn
Translator William Tyndale loved the Bible and yearned to make it available to everyone. He translated the Bible into English, even though his work angered important people. Tyndale was translating the Old Testament when Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were destroyed in a shipwreck. He had to rewrite them by hand. Learn more here.


Sudan: No Food for Christian Kids

South Sudanese children and their families have been driven from their homes by fighting in the region. As refugees, many live in camps in Sudan and Uganda.

In some camps, Muslims tell the Christian children that they must recite Muslim prayers in order to get food. (Read about differences between Islam and biblical Christianity here.)  A worker at the camp said, “They are given the choice to starve, or they are conditioned to say Islamic prayers before [being] given food.”

(Source: VOM Canada and other sources)

Please pray for Christian children in the refugee camps. Ask God to meet their daily needs and to keep them strong in their faith.

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