Stories: by Person: A

Gladys May Aylward

(Ai Weide)
1902 ~ 1970

A housemaid born in Edmonton, north of London, Aylward went to China as an independent missionary. With little educational background, no specific abilities to commend her for missionary work, and unable to do well in some introductory mission studies, Gladys was turned down by the China Inland Mission. Despite this disappointment and no support, in 1930 she headed for China on the Trans-Siberian railway. Nearly detained in Russia, she managed to get to Tientsin (Tianjin and from there traveled to the province of Shansi (Shanxi) in northwest China. Learning the rough Mandarin language of the area, she identified herself with China and its people and became a Chinese citizen in 1936. She gained the favor of the mandarin of the city of Yangcheng (Jincheng), who appointed her an inspector to help enforce the local government's edict against binding the feet of young girls.

The late 1930s were days of strife, as government forces fought against the Japanese and Communists. In this chaotic context Aylward gathered many orphans into a home and in 1940 led them on a perilous journey to safety Sian (Xi'an), capital of the neighboring province of Shensi (Shaanxi), 240 miles west-southwest of Yangcheng. She returned to England during World War II, went back to China in the late 1940s, and then continued work with needy children in Taiwan through the Gladys Aylward children's Home until nearly the time of her death.

About the Author

By Ralph R. Covell

Formerly Professor of World Christianity and Academic Dean, Denver Seminary, Denver, Colorado, USA

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