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Gladys Aylward’s Journey

Gladys Aylward was born 119 years ago on February 24, 1902. The story below is from the Torchlighters leader’s guide for The Gladys Aylward Story DVD. You can find student and leader’s guides for Torchlighters DVDs in the Downloads section of this site and at Learn more about the DVDs here.

Gladys Aylward may be small, but she serves a big God! She’s seen Him lead through countless trials and challenges. But now, after eight years of service in China, Gladys is facing a crucial decision. Her village is under attack by the Japanese, and the children in her care are in danger. Desperate to get the one hundred children out of harm’s way, the wounded Gladys awakens them in the night and begins a one hundred mile journey to safety. She is the only adult. There is no vehicle and no pack animal. They must carry what they need. It is a journey that can only be attempted with God at the lead.

As expected, the physical and emotional challenges of such a journey prove to be immense. Gladys must struggle through her own hunger, fatigue, injury, and illness in order to help the children persevere over the mountain. All the while they know enemy soldiers could attack. When they tire of singing songs, Gladys urges the children along with stories of God – sharing the many ways He has worked throughout her life.

Just when Gladys has given her all and seems unable to face one more roadblock, we find the tables have turned. The children whom she has protected, nourished, and led now offer hope back to her. They have learned well from their beloved role model and now remind her that God is still God and He will see them through. And indeed, He does.

Gladys Aylward’s faith and courage are strong examples for us. As a young Christian, Gladys faced immense obstacles. She had few means, was a poor student, and was told she should not become a missionary. Yet, Gladys decided that if God asked her to do something, she would do it. No barriers or roadblocks would stop her as she trusted in His plan and provision. The road was often uncertain and difficult, but Gladys persevered with her Savior by her side. The small woman with a big God left a legacy of faith in her adopted land of China. Her story encourages each of us to follow as God leads and trust in His provision.

Enter “Aylward” in the Search box to find more stories about Gladys Aylward.

Secret Christmas

What are some of your favorite things to do during the Christmas season? Do you like to:

Visit others’ houses to sing Christmas carols?
Get out of school for Christmas vacation?
Join with other Christians for a Christmas worship service?
Put lights and decorations outside your house?
Buy Christmas cards to send to friends?
Visit nativity scenes displayed in your town?

You might be in trouble if you did those things in some countries.

Schools in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to make Christmas a school vacation day.
A group of 150 people attacked 16 Christians singing Christmas carols in India.
It is illegal to sell Christmas cards in Maldives outside of areas where tourists visit.
In one location in China, officials banned children from playing angels in church plays, joining the choir, or singing hymns.

Some people in strict Muslim countries celebrate Christmas secretly and post photos of their secret celebrations on social media. But they are careful not to include any photos that would allow government officials to find them.

This Christmas season, thank God for your freedom to honor His Son. Pray for those who don’t enjoy the same freedom.

Praise the Lord Around the World

Use the chart below to learn how to say “Praise the Lord” in 10 other languages. Sing the song “Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah” or another song with the words “praise (ye) the Lord” in it. Substitute one or more of the phrases for the English words.

How To Say It
Iran Farsi KHOH-dah-rah SHOH-kr
Pakistan Punjabi RAHB-dee tah-REEF HO-vay
China Chinese tzahn-may joo
Colombia Spanish GLOH-ree-uh ah dee-ohs
Russia, Kazakhstan Russian SLAH-vuh BOH-goo
Many Muslim Countries Arabic MAHG-duh lah rahp
Eritrea Tigrinya gway-tah yeh mess ghen
Malaysia, Brunei Malay Poo-jee TOO-hahn
Nepal Nepali jay muh-SEE
Bangladesh Bangla ee-shohr-air goor-ohb hohk

A Hard Choice in China

[Photo: Chinese boy reading a Bible]

Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio recently talked to Brother Joel, a Christian worker who distributes Bibles in China on behalf of The Voice of the Martyrs. Joel shared stories of how Christians in China are dealing with current conditions in their country. Read part of the interview below.

Todd: What types of work is VOM doing to help meet the needs of Christians in China?

Joel: VOM is doing children’s work. There is a large project; I can’t speak too much about it on the air. But there is a very large project for discipling and evangelizing children that we are in the process of launching. Children’s ministry is number one.

Todd: The Communist Party is very afraid of children hearing the gospel and being discipled. What does that mean for churches that have a Sunday school class for kids or a school that is teaching Christian principles at the school?

Joel: The police have visited those places and told them to stop. They have threatened a lot of people. They have threatened families, and they have threatened children in the schools.

They take even very small children, in kindergarten and first grade, and the teacher stands the children up, and lines them up around the walls of the classroom. Then the teacher goes one-by-one to the children and says, “Do your mom and dad talk about religion? Do you ever talk about Jesus? Are you a Christian?” They are interrogating the children in front of their peers in the classroom where they would be more intimidated. Then they go threaten the families.

Todd: So they turn the children into spies against their own parents?

Joel: They intimidate the children to tell what is going on.

Todd: That is another thing we can add to our prayer list. Pray for the children of Christians to grow in faith and to grow in courage to be able to stand up to that kind of pressure.

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity)

To Talk About
*What does “intimidate” mean?
*Have you ever been “intimidated”?
*The children in the Chinese classes can choose not to tell the truth, or possibly get their parents in trouble. What do you think they should do?

Secret Rules

American girl eating in China

Missionaries to other countries may have trouble learning all the customs and unwritten rules of the people around them. For example, in some countries, it is not polite to eat with the left hand, and in some places, it is insulting to show others the bottom of one’s shoe.

Divide into two teams. Have teams meet separately where they can’t hear each other while discussing their strategy. Ask each team to make up a very simple imaginary secret rule about eating a snack. Examples: Use only your right hand to eat. Or everyone must sit with their right foot crossed over their left. Or every spoken sentence must end with “please” or “thank you.” Or girls must look down at their food and never raise their eyes.

Then let the teams interact while a simple snack is served. Try to discover the other team’s secret rule within a certain time limit. (If you do not want to serve a snack, teams can think of a rule to follow while listening to a story.)

To Think About

  • What are some “unwritten” rules or customs of your country that others might have trouble understanding?
  • With an adult, attend a church that follows customs with which you are not familiar. Talk about how it felt to be in a place with different “rules.”
  • How can you welcome and help new people who come to your church and might not understand how things are done at your church?