The Small Woman

Posted by admin in February 6th, 2021
Published in Uncategorized

She was 4’10” on the outside, but 9’7” and 375 pounds of raging obedience on the inside!

by Thane Hutcherson Ury, PhD


Most missionaries must endure demanding training, be backed by a bona fide mission agency, and do rigorous fund-raising before going to the mission field. For many, this means years of preparation, and also (sadly) the winnowing by which some never make it to the field.


But Lady Aylward broke the mold. China Inland Mission rejected her. Surprising, since CIM was long-known for seeing hidden potential in candidates that other agencies missed. It’s hard to imagine someone saying to Gladys, “We don’t believe you are capable of learning Chinese. We’re so sorry.” But in typical Gladys fashion, she not only learned to speak Mandarin, but learned to read and write the difficult language as well.


The way I see it, she was 4’10” on the outside, but 9’7”, 375 pounds of outrageous potential on the inside!


Another missions expert looked Gladys in the eye, and said she was unqualified and had “no specific abilities to commend her for missionary work.” But through perseverance and pursuit of an opening, Jeannie Lawson gave the small woman a chance and told Gladys, “We can use you in China…if you can get here!”


Gladys didn’t have enough money to go by ocean liner, but she spent her life’s savings to take the Trans-Siberian railroad across the Soviet Union and to the port city of Vladivostok, Russia. From there she hopped to Japan, and then got transport to Tianjin, China. All that remained was a train, a bus, and a mule to get to her final destination. Just do a little thought-mapping on all the logistics it’d take to pull this off: a single woman, traveling 5000 miles across a continent,  by herself in 1930, all without (yet) knowing any foreign languages and with no tour guide.


Small woman on the outside, but 9’7” and 375 pounds of unrelenting “don’t get between me and the lost” on the inside!


At one point, someone in England (behind a desk) decided that Gladys didn’t score well on “Introductory to Mission Studies.” But she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Her heart was bursting for China, and against all odds, she launched out on her own, an independent missionary…a petite 4’10” on the surface, but 9’7” and 375lbs of “hurricane Gladys” on the inside!


Her exploits are too numerous to list here. But her heart became so Chinese that she was actually awarded Chinese citizenship—a rare thing for foreigners in her day. The government needed an official “foot inspector” as they were finally eradicating the horrific practice of foot-binding. One source said Gladys truly was the ONLY viable candidate for such a job! She preached the Gospel, told Bible stories, and won the hearts of thousands of Chinese in small villages as she unbound girls’ twisted and deformed feet – setting them free both spiritually and physically.


None of this would have happened if that person behind the desk in England had had his way. He only saw a diminutive 4’10” lady who maybe wasn’t a good test taker, instead of the towering 9’7” Screwtape-stomping, 375 pounds of “radical other-centeredness” bubbling beneath the surface.


We’re leaving out much. She’s legendary for pouring her life into orphans, saving hundreds of children during the Japanese occupation, starting a settlement for lepers, bringing prison reform to Taiwan, and countless other feats. But to this punk MK, she was just Aunt Gladys, the short lady in Dad’s church who dressed funny and talked funnier.


I only saw the 4’10” exterior, and not the 9’7” history-altering, 375-pound heart of indefatigable obedience within!


There’s an ancient Chinese proverb, “Do not fear going slowly, only fear standing still.”


When your friends don’t get the God-planted urge within you, just keep plugging forward. Others may labor under the illusion that God can only use those who are “qualified”—and there can be some merit in that of course—but you’re the best judge of the throbbing passion for the lost within your breast. Plus, God has a pretty steady record of using the most unlikely candidates to get His will done.


The point is, God can take anyone He chooses and infuse them with a robust potential no matter what litmus tests others might have. I believe most of us have a 9’7”, 375-pound heart of potential inside. Imagine if that potential was uncovered and unleashed. #findyourbodacious




2 users Responded In This Post

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February 6th, 2021 at 11:29 am

What a joy it was to read this! We have this treasure in jars of clay so God will get the glory. Amen!

56285. admin said,
February 8th, 2021 at 7:27 am

In jars of clay and we with feet of clay. I’ll post another piece on Gladys’s absolute dedication to Truth. Bless you Annette! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

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