Saving Soles - Gladys Aylward - The One Year Women in Christian History Devotional

Saving Soles - Gladys Aylward


Gladys Aylward, whose life was the inspiration for the 1958 film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, was a missionary to China who worked with orphans and wounded soldiers. It was a rather unmissionary-like job, but it earned her the trust of the Chinese people, paving the way to effective ministry.

In the early decades of the 1900s, there were a number of missionaries in China—this was before the Communist takeover—but they were quickly labeled as foreigners. Their size, appearance, language, and way of carrying themselves kept them from fitting in. But Gladys Aylward was different. Though she was British, she was less than five feet tall, with dark hair, and she had no desire to look and act British. Her appearance made the Chinese people comfortable.

The Chinese government had recently forbidden the ancient practice of binding the feet of girls, and they needed a foot inspector to help enforce the ban—a woman who would agree with the new law and still be trusted by the people. They asked Gladys.

Foot inspection. Probably not what Gladys had envisioned as missionary work. But she willingly visited the homes of the Chinese families where she could examine the feet of young girls. While there, she had the opportunity to share her faith. The people came to accept her, not as a missionary, but as someone simply doing her job well and talking about something that was important to her. Her later work with orphans and soldiers (featured in the film) might not have been possible if she had not won acceptance by inspecting feet.

Do you ever look at missionaries or ministers and wish that you could have such a holy calling? Wouldn’t it be great to make a living caring for people’s souls? Are you frustrated with the mundane, unspiritual nature of your current work? Then take a lesson from Gladys Aylward. Even something as down-to-earth as foot inspection can be a ministry. Do what God has given you to do, and do it for his glory.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3:23

From the Book:

The One Year Women in Christian History Devotional cover image

The One Year Women in Christian History Devotional
By Randy Petersen and Robin Shreeves

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